Little oases

In January 2015, the sunny shore of Tulum, Mexico was an oasis in more ways than one.

In January 2015, the sunny coast of Tulum, Mexico was an oasis in more ways than one.

“All that the historians give us are little oases in the desert of time, and we linger fondly in these, forgetting the vast tracks between one and another that were trodden by the weary generations of men.”John Alfred Spender

One of the most fascinating (and frustrating) aspects of visiting historic sites, especially ancient ones, is the way time becomes telescoped into a deceptively small package.  There is no real way to grasp the magnitude of centuries, even when careful excavation reveals a wealth of solid clues.

Still, most of us do linger fondly at these little oases, as Spender has noted.  Why?  Aside from their frequently beautiful physical appearance and appealing climate, I think there’s something unseen there that draws us in.  As the guides spin their truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tales of civilizations beset by warring neighbors, epidemic disease and grisly cultural practices such as human sacrifice, we feel a bit happier with the modern world than we were before.

It’s interesting to wonder how future centuries (assuming the world as we know it stands that long) will describe our societies, and how history will judge us.  From my admittedly limited perspective, though, I think Now has a lot going for it.  I hope that our weary generations will occasionally pause to dance as we tread the vast tracks.


  1. Good morning, Julia! So true!
    Your writing made me think how many people in history have thought that certainly they lived at the best of times. Unless they didn’t, like persons living under foreign occupation.
    “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times ….” what a different story it would be, had it been a kind of boring time. Meh. Probably a much shorter story, too!

    • Susan, you quoted from one of my very favorite books. I do imagine that it’s much more fun to read about those times than to have been there, though. I often think about one of my favorite SNL skits, Theodoric of York, when I think about how people in the future tend to see the past, when those folks also were thinking about the ignorance of the centuries that went before. I guess we are all born at the right time, in the great scheme of things.

  2. Sheila

    Good Monday morning, Julia. This is so beautifully written and the accompanying photo is a wonderful oasis for this morning. What a contrast your weather was on your recent trip opposed to the weather at home that week! Have a very good week! 💖💖

    • Sheila, it’s also quite a contrast from the weather today, although the weekend was lovely so I can’t complain. Walter would have felt right at home in Quintana Roo, I’m sure. I saw some pretty birds, but none prettier than he is. Hope you have a great week too!

  3. I wonder about what future generations may find when we’re gone too. Nothing lasts forever, that includes civilizations. The things you touched on that affect the longevity of mankind are adversely affecting us right now. Warring neighbours and disease are so much a part of our nightly news, you almost stop listening because in fact they aren’t news at all. Personally, I choose to ‘always look on the sunny side of life’ and ignore what I can’t affect. Do you know the song from Monty Python? I love the verse:

    When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
    Don’t grumble, give a whistle
    And this’ll help things turn out for the best..

    ah yes, words to live by 😀 LOL xoxox K

    • K, I hadn’t heart that song (is it from Spamalot?) but the Monty Python troop has been the source of much therapeutic laughter in our family. Everytime we go home to see my parents, if my brother Al is upstairs, he hangs out the window when we pull up in the driveway and says “‘ello Dennis!” (in fake English accent). I do agree, it’s definitely best to be thankful to be where we are. There is nothing to be gained by hand-wringing, as far as I can tell. Counting down till the end of March!! 😀 😀 😀

  4. It is from Spamalot Julia! Good eye! We were crazy about Monty Python as teens. Made for good drive-in double features. Jim and I saw Spamalot as live theatre here in Edmonton. So funny. We often quote their crazy movies, “merely a flesh wound” LOL, I say that one a lot.
    My other favourite Monty Python song is from ‘Life of Brian’, called The Galaxy Song. Jim sang it to me on one of our first dates looking up at the stars at the lake. I was so impressed he knew the lyrics by heart. If you know it, you’ll ace your next science quiz. Goes like:
    “We’re standing on planet, a planet that’s evolving and revolving at 900 miles on hour. It’s orbiting at 19 miles an hour, or so I recon. The sun that is the source of all our power. The Sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see, are moving at a million miles a day”….and it goes on with a fun melody

    Looking forward to our visit too. So darn busy at work and home, I’ve had no time to plan at all. But I will soon xox ❤

    • I do remember seeing that Galaxy song. It’s very clever, but my favorite part is the pink sponge rollers like the ones I wore for years. 😀 Speaking of planets spinning fast, I can totally identify with the busyness. WOW how did it get to be February already? This winter has been short and relatively easy weather-wise for us, at least so far.

  5. Sheila

    Julia, I spent the afternoon in MAYBERRY… I am still amazed that the quaint little town that was home to Andy Griffith is still just that! We had lunch at “Snappy’s” and then went next door to Floyd’s Barber Shop. Mr. Floyd had just closed for the day, which disappointed me, as I really wanted to see inside the shop where Andy and Barney used to get their haircuts. I can appreciate that he closes at 2:00 since he is 94 years old. 👏 I loved a t-shirt that said it best, “Stay Calm And Let Barney Handle It”! Just know that you really were with me today, across the miles. 😍 Goodnight from Winston Salem~~~Sheila

    • Sheila, is that the PERFECT t-shirt or what? Where is Barney when we need him? I can just hear Floyd saying “GOOOOOBER!!!”

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