Sunday, February 17, 2008

A wind's in the heart of me, a fire's in my heels

A wind's in the heart of me, a fire's in my heels,
I am tired of brick and stone and rumbling wagon-wheels;
I hunger for the sea's edge, the limit of the land,
Where the wild old Atlantic is shouting on the sand.

Oh, I'll be going, leaving the noises of the street,
To where a lifting foresail-foot is yanking at the sheet;
To a windy, tossing anchorage where yawls and ketches ride,
Oh, I'll be going, going, until I meet the tide.

Excerpt from A Wanderer's Song by John Masefield

Anyone who's ever had the wander-lust knows the irresistible pull of an open stretch of road, the seductive bend of the mountain, the lure of infinite possibilities. It's not about where you go, it's about how you get there and where you stop along the way. People whose souls aren't filled with it can never, ever understand. When I was a little girl walking with my parents, I would always ask them to go "just until after the road curves." My mom would laugh and say, "What do you think is there, a circus?" But it isn't about that at all, is it? It's about the act of going, of doing, of giving in to that excitement that tells you - well, maybe there is! It's the satisfaction of knowing that you've climbed to the top and the view is that much sweeter.

Which is why when faced with a prospect of a three-day weekend, beautiful weather and nothing to do, I felt the "old familiar glamour" (and if anyone knows where that's from, would you marry me?) and I knew that I had to just go. Unfortunately, with all his perfections, A.'s wander-lust gene got lost somewhere along the way and there followed a conversation that will be familiar in its form (if not in content) to many a married person:

Me [with a "Sound of Music" stretch of the arms and a twirl]: Oh, the weather is beautiful! Let's take the car and just drive somewhere!

A: Why?

Me [mental sound of screeching tires]: Um, what do you mean, 'why?' Weather = good, time = free, etc...

A: Still don't get it.

Me [Sigh]: Well, all right. I suppose you don't have to go with me; I would never force you to do something you don't want to do. [Brightly] I'll just take the car myself and drive along the coast to, oh, I don't know, Santa Barbara, maybe? Not such a long drive, but so pretty. I'll stay for the day, maybe do some wine tasting, meet some of the wine-makers...

A [Meditative silence]: .................. Can we rent a convertible?

Me: YES!

And so, a compromise was born.

We drove leisurely down the shimmering coast, the water dotted with surfers like the top of a bread pudding with raisins, past the giant RVs and the noisy seagulls, past the parents watching with lazy satisfaction as their kids build sand-castles, past the beach houses sparkling like little brightly-colored jewels in the sun. We drove until there was nothing left but us and the road and a stretch of sprawling countryside, and only then did we feel at peace.

Predictably (for a three-day weekend), the wineries were crowded and there were limos and tour-vans parked in every parking lot. We were lucky enough to find a quiet table in the sun and enjoyed our wine with a side of people-watching.

The wine was good and the company was better. Next to us, a family opened a giant cooler and, in the blink of an eye, had the picnic table covered with a checkered table-cloth and spread with the most enviable variety of meats and cheeses and fruit, which put the two little plastic containers I packed at home completely to shame. A. looked over and said: "Next time, I'm packing the food!" :)

We even splurged on the "Reserve" tasting at Sunstone and got to go into a cave filled with rows and rows of wine bottles, dark and dusty and waiting to be tapped.

And as we were driving back in the dusk and A.'s hands held the steering wheel in a firm grip and I was dozing off to the strains of Miles Davis, the words of an old, half-forgotten poem I had read years and years ago came back to me; and I knew that the next time someone asks me "why," I will just shrug and tell them: "a wind's in the heart of me, a fire's in my heels."


Anonymous said...

Queen Lucia By E. F. Benson would be my guess

Irene said...

YES!! Oooooooh, I am so excited someone knows (and hopefully loves) those books. :D

Unknown said...

My friend Yves-Marie Deshays and I are currently (June 5015) completing our translations into French of the Mapp and Lucia novels. Our translations of the first five were published years ago but for reasons I won't go into (hint: mean publishers) we never got to translate "Trouble for Lucia".

We are now working on our translation of this sixth and last book in the series but are stuck on the quotation "the old familiar glamour".

Did you ever find out where it is from and did you marry the person who put you out of your misery?

Any help you can give would be much appreciated.

Patrick Micel, Peypin d'Aigues, France

Irene said...

Ah, I meant that i would be surprised and delighted if anyone recognized that this quotation was from the Mapp and Lucia novels. Not many people know about them, but those who do are a dedicated fan club :) As far as I'm aware, it's not a quotation from anything else, though. Good luck with the translation!