David Bouchier

Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island and a great traveler himself, once remarked that it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive. As a philosophy of life, you can scarcely argue with that, since we all know what happens when we arrive and, as a prophetic description of the tourist experience in the twenty-first century, Stevenson's words hit the mark exactly.

At harbors and marinas all along the Connecticut and Long Island shores, the pleasure boats are being unwrapped from their winter plastic and prepared for the new season. In this way we continue to honor the great New England seafaring tradition. Our ancestors arrived from the old world by ship, a perilous three week voyage in the days of sail, battling contrary winds and terrible storms.

Spring flowers,soft-focus TV commercials, special advertising supplements, and white stretch limousines making wide turns into the catering halls: it all adds up to wedding season. In spite of the enormous social changes of the past fifty years, this one historic ritual still survives.

It’s Commencement Week at many colleges and Universities. Tens of thousands of young people will be launched into a new life and let’s not forget, a few people who are not so young. There may be as many as two million students over thirty in higher education right now, and some are even older. Last year a remarkable woman, Ingeborg Rapoport finally got to defend her doctoral thesis at the University of Hamburg, at the age of a hundred and two.

Since the dawn of history people have performed rituals of cleansing and purification involving water. Just about every religion has some form of ceremonial immersion.The ancient Romans had their grand public baths, and regarded dirt as a mark of barbarism.And here in America we have the car wash.

I am old enough to remember when suburban husbands were expected and required to spend every summer Saturday morning in the driveway, washing their sacred vehicles by hand with sponge and detergent, and finishing off with a hose and leather.

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