Sunday, November 16, 2008

Point Reyes, A Sleeping Toddler, Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Drake and the Golden Hinde

So, here I am sitting in my car in the North Beach area of Point Reyes. If you've not been there, you really should go. The strength, size and power of the waves are all quite humbling. I lounge back in the front seat as my toddler son sleeps. It's a busy day, it's gonna get busier, but even a 1 hour nap can give him ample fuel to burn.

While he's "out," I'm awake, and it occurs to I look out upon the Pacific...that Sir Francis Drake's Golden Hinde reached Point Reyes in 1579.

I could squint my eyes just enough to imagine the little 120-footer bobbing its way across the horizon. Oh, and there's Sir Francis dangling off the prow, hand gripping rope, shouting "boys, it's land I see!" Cool. I then refocus my eyes - there's nothing there, except for the same smells, the same sounds and see many of the same sights that Drake and his Salts saw.

It's weird also that I'd chosen to bring the soundtrack from the 1998 film, Elizabeth; that's Elizabeth the First, probably Drake's most generous and well-known patron. Domine secundum actum meum is what I can hear. It was written in 1575 by William Byrd. Haunting, especially with the backdrop of crashing whitecaps. The dirge builds and builds, a tenor spilling out - what to me - is unintelligible, but sublime Latin. I then look at my son, then the ocean, the same one that held the Golden Hinde so many centuries ago, and I wonder what my son's Point Reyes will be. My thoughts lean to less material concepts: tolerance, peace, trust.

I hear a stirring in the back of the car. It's my son. His puffy little eyes open and look over at me. Then his head swings around to an SUV blazing its way out of the parking lot. "Bus," he says. "Yep, that's a bus, sweetheart," say I.

So, how does all of this relate to the library? Well, I may not know what my son's Point Reyes will be, but I do know - a least early on - what shape his Golden Hinde will take. The library. The book. The written word. All of which will sail any sea, traverse any desert, and plant a flag atop any mountain. The economy is down, news about the world is a bit unkind, but one constant in a world of ever-decreasing constants is...our library.

To hear Domine secundum actum meum, click on the image below:

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