Many of us are aware that George Washington’s birthday, February 22, is approaching, with all of the Presidents Day sales, vacation plans, and general gas pump price obnoxiousness. But did you know that before that special day in American history it will be Ansel Adams’s birthday on February 20, followed by W.H. Auden’s on the 21st?
Adams is, of course, famous for his photographs, especially of Yosemite National Park, and Auden has been hailed as perhaps the greatest writer of the 20th century. Now, someone named Hugh once called Auden “a complete wash-out,” but then, who hasn’t been called that once or twice in their life and even worse by someone named something not that different from Hugh?
Reflecting on the idea of these famous men and their birthdays, and how they will actually never have another, no matter how many times we remember the days specific to each of them, I wondered if they had ever had anything to say in a personal way about time, age, etc. Here’s what I found:
Ansel Adams: “In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”
George Washington: “Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.”
W. H. Auden: “If time were the wicked sheriff in a horse opera, I’d pay for riding lessons and take his gun away.”
And so, in memory of these accomplished men, let me encourage you this week to contemplate a landscape and savor the breath of a favorite poem. Let me caution you before you decide to go into politics, and if anyone knows where I can take riding lessons, drop me a comment. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do, and as we all are probably aware, though currently in good health, I am steadily running out of time.