Glimpses and Echoes

Editor’s Note: This little poem essay appeared in The Tropical Sun in 1891 under Byrd Spilman Dewey’s weekly column “The Sitting Room.” It is a delightful glimpse into a day-long picnic to what was then called “Pitt’s Island,” today’s Munyon Island, now a wildlife refuge north of the Palm Beach Inlet. Enjoy the rich description of a simpler time in an unspoiled paradise.

A glorious morning after days of storm.
A white winged boat speeds towards the wharf.
She pauses; friends disembark.
“Get your hat!”
“Never mind the lunch!”
“Plenty on board!”
“Picnic!”
“Come along!”
“Hurry up!”
All talk at once. Bread butters itself. Gloves and hats are found to be already on. Everything does itself.
“All aboard!”
“Cast off!”
Flying up the Lake.
Pausing for more picnickers.
Greeting passing boats with friends on board. Everything and everybody glad of the inspiring weather – drunk on sunshine.
Flying past the Inlet.
“Where to?”
“The Island.”
“What Island?”
“The island of palms and flowers!”
We disembark. Flowers, singing birds and happy people, bright dresses, warm welcome, laughter, everybody talking at once.
“Dinner time!”
“Spread the cloth!”
Bread and butter-fish-chicken, potato salad-
“No cake?”
“No cake.”
“No pie?”
“I thought you had brought the cake.”
“I thought you had.”
“Never mind; who cares for cake, anyway.”
“Not I.”
“Nor I.”
“I adore bread and butter.”
“And I.”
Good bread and butter.”
“Yes, indeed.”
“Mh-hm.”
“Pass the jelly.”
“Have some more chicken? salmon?”
“Good coffee.”
“Yes, splendid. Another cup.”
“Cucumbers?”
“Yes and bananas.”
“Everything but cake and pie.”
“Unique picnic.”
“Gather up the dishes. Let the birds have the fragments.”
Long paths and avenues of palms, rubber trees, and all queer vines and shrubs. Hermit crabs.
“Oh, he bit me, the horrid thing! I want his pretty shell.”
Laughter-jokes-conundrums.
“Inlet?”
“Yes, come along.”
Lying on the sand. Point of rocks, with spray falling over it. Woman in a red shawl watching steamers plowing through white waves. Tide coming in.
“See that shark!”
“Where?”
“There he goes.”
“Sand fleas.”
“How funny, where do they go?”
“Time to go back on the boat.”
“Come on.”
“What a lovely conch shell.”
“Phe—-ew, he’s dead!”
“What a funny fish! There see it?”
Homeward bound.
“How lovely!”
A silvery moonrise on one side, a golden sunset on the other.
“Oh, for eyes all around like a spider!”
“How beautiful the cocoanuts, on that point against the sunset! Their leaves, ‘each alone in feathr’y grace, against the tropic sky.”
“That was written about the pine trees.”
“Yes, I know; but it fits the cocoanut even better.”
The afterglow dies swiftly. The beautiful moon! We sail through the pathway of silver.
Home at last.
“Good night!”
“Good night!”
“Tired?”
“Yes.”
“Sleepy?”
“Oh no.”
Sunlight. Moonlight, laughter, fish, steamers, winds, waves-the pillow is full of them.
The day is gone; but its echoes linger.

 

Copyright, 2013. Ginger L. Pedersen and Janet M. DeVries

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