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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Lovers in the morning ...

By Joe Wilkins





It was a touch after six this magical morning when, restless for motion, I slipped on my sandals and stepped out for a morning walk. “Magical” because of place, time and happenings. With apologies to my snowbound friends in the North staring out their windows at yet another dreary day of winter weather, I am on a Florida Key as I write this, a coral island so small it’s little more than a wide place in the road. But that road is US 1 at a point where I can dip my toes in the calm Atlantic or walk across the road and dip them in the even calmer Gulf of Mexico.

 On this particularly mild morning I choose to dip them in the Atlantic where, walking past the boat slips and through the palm trees and scrub vegetation I come out at the end of a jetty to catch the faint rosy glow of the coming dawn in the east and, over my shoulder in the west, the brilliance of a full moon still coloring the night sky. 

High out over the ocean is Venus, bright with the reflection of the sun still hidden below the horizon. From its corner of a great celestrial triangle, the sun lights up both Venus and the full moon, filling the sky with light from three different directions. I am enchanted by the scene, and lulled by the easy slap of water hitting the jetty. There is no light-pollution. No street lights or neon signs or city skylines spoil the sight of the Atlantic Ocean rubbing its eyes and slowly coming awake.

 I am in this lovely place determined to finish my current work-in-progress, a personal memoir of my work and travels during the first decade of the federal “War on Poverty”, now fifty years old. For days I have been deep in my notes about trips to the hard-times scenes of Appalachia, Indian Reservations, migrant camps on the West Coast and the slums of our big cities. It is an important, if obscure, tale to tell, a matter more of a writer’s duty to record than a thrilling adventure, something like a soldier’s recollection of lost battles in a forgotten war that some university press may publish for some future historian to consult. There can be sadness in such tales, but I prefer to search for the positive side of things. I am proud to have been involved and happy to be doing the book, but a short break from work on this wonderful morning is a welcome thing. 

Out on the jetty, bemused and entranced by the romance of this morning’s scene, my thoughts turn to a writer from a previous time, Richard Halliburton, whose “Royal Road to Romance,” “Seven League Boots” and “Flying Carpet” filled my young boy’s head with dreams of adventure and romance. He was a writer famed in the days between the great wars for such ideas as sneaking into the Taj Mahal on a moonlit night to commune with its beauty; and hiding overnight in the beautiful Parthenon atop the Acropolis in Athens to talk with the resident goddesses. 

It was an odd mix of emotions, there on the jetty. My book-in-progress covers a rough time in America and folks caught in private worlds of electric-bill cutoffs and dead-end jobs. And yet, deep in my notes I find long-ago interviews I did with high-school dropouts dreaming of getting into the Navy; of teenage volunteers from upstate New York and southern Louisiana working to inspire even younger Indian girls trapped on desperately poor reservations; of young people across the country fighting their way up from scenes of Dickensian want. Their determined optimism still shines from the faded pages of my old notes. 

As I reached the quiet boat slips on my walk back, I heard the slow crunch of tires on the shell-covered path and stepped into the shadow of the bushes wondering what early-rising fisherman was on his way. But it was no fisherman. Passing by in an old golf cart were a young couple. The driver was a tall, lean young man in jeans and sweatshirt. Snuggled up to him for warmth and love was a beautiful young woman, the two of them heading neither for the rising sun nor the lingering moon, but for the beckoning light of Venus, known to young lovers since the dawn of time itself as the Goddess of Love. I am reminded it is still true that the dreams of the young remain the strength of America. 

Thinking of the young among so much morning beauty I felt my optimism coming back and my spirits rise. Refreshed, I made my way back down the jetty’s path in the still-bright moonlight, ready to return to pages and chapters still to be polished.

 © by 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 the Atlantic City casino age began. 

PUBLISHED!! 




 Kennedy's Recruit: Tales from the Poverty Wars - the vivid account of the great federal anti-poverty effort that sparked the social wildfires of the Sixties and Seventies across America, told by a man who was there and saw it first-hand – and the political storms it brewed, from the migrant camps of California and Southern New Jersey to the haunted poverty of the Dakota Sioux reservations; from the truck coal mines of eastern Tennessee to Dick Daley’s Chicago and Louise Day Hicks’s Boston. 

To buy Joe's books, invite him to talk to your group, or send him your comments, you can email him at  wilkinsjt001@comcast.net,  visit his website at  www.josephtwilkins.com  or catch his author's page on Facebook.














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