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Friday, May 17, 2013

Spring Fever … Guest post by Joseph T. Wilkins

Spring Fever …

Once upon a time not so long ago an incurably romantic writer named Richard Halliburton wrote incurably romantic books with titles like “Seven League Boots” and “The Royal Road to Romance.” Halliburton was a wanderer, much given to adventures like hiding overnight in the Acropolis at Athens, or in India’s beautiful Taj Mahal, and there communing with the spirits of the gods and maharajahs of ancient times while waiting for the first soft coming of dawn. One of his books opens with the author sitting comfortably in a ground-floor window seat at his college, then impulsively stepping out of it onto the green lawn dappled with sunlight and shade and walking away from books, studies, and musty libraries into the world of exotic travel and youthful discovery.

I couldn’t step so lightly out of my life in those days, but the lure has never faded. Today is a lovely day in May as I write these words, and my eyes drift away from my laptop and out my window to the lush appeal of shaded lawn and dappled sunlight. In that part of my heart that is forever young I yearn to be off in search of adventure and surprise. “Come, my friends,” as Tennyson says in his Ulysses, “tis not too late to seek a newer world. There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sails.

Push off and sitting well in order strike the sounding furrows with a bound, for my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars…”

Potent stuff, that, and not for the faint of heart. If ever I must give a commencement address I will read Tennyson and Halliburton to the graduates, and hope the auditorium will empty out in a mad rush of young folks to be on the road to adventure before they settle down. Life soon enough claims our time and energies.
 Wordsworth had it right: “The world is too much with us; late and soon getting and spending we lay waste our powers. Little we see in Nature that is ours.”

It is probably wicked of me to spread such temptations. At the very least it is irresponsible – a shameless call to backsliding and shirking of the sort frowned upon by the serious movers and shakers of the world. After all, we all have bills to pay; jobs to work at; lists of things we’re supposed to be doing this very minute.
No doubt the ghost of some outraged Puritan is already sounding the alarm; some dried-up bony-fingered scold is clucking his tongue and slamming shut the

And yet. Why is there such a thing as youth if not for this? Why, after all these billions of years have we become creatures that come alive with hope and excitement at the arrival of Spring and its flowers and scents and sweet yearnings?

Which of us does not thrill at the flash of some free spirit on a quest; some flyer setting out to circle the globe; some volunteer off to help children in a distant land; some young mother packing a picnic lunch and heading out with her toddlers for a bit of sunlit nature? There is no rule of scale in such things. Adventure does not require travel agencies and passports; only a questing heart and a willingness to be delighted by something new; something unexpected.

The squirrels that play beneath my window and the birds that flit and chirp so merrily do not have to withstand such silly temptations; their’s is a life of do or die. They must eat and mate, and raise their young. We also are bound by those basic conditions of life, but for us there is more; much more. We hear music in the world around us; smell perfume in the grasses and the woods; feel our hearts rise with the freshness of the morning breeze. Why, then, clog up our ears with the noises of mankind and shut ourselves in from the day?

If this be Spring Fever, as Patrick Henry might have put it, let us make the most of it.

Copyright Joseph T. Wilkins. 

Joe Wilkins is a semi-retired lawyer and former municipal judge who lives in Smithville, NJ. He is the author of  "The Speaker Who Locked up the House", an acclaimed historical novel about Congress set in the Washington of 1890, and "The Skin Game and other Atlantic City capers", a richly comic account of the stick-up of an illegal card game as Atlantic City casino age began. To buy Joe’s books, invite him to talk to your group, or send him your comments, you can email him at, visit his website at or catch his author's page on Facebook.

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