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Spring will come again, I promise

Just as my location plunged below freezing, I came upon this piece of transportive writing, wonderfully rendered to remind us just how Spring is worth waiting for.

If you prefer to hear it beautifully read by a professional actress, click THIS LINK and scroll down to Ch. 29.

(The fact the person traveling through this excerpt is a Class A villain incapable of appreciating such natural beauty, and a bigot of great privilege who uses his charm to con many who mistake imagined wealth for greatness, and harms anyone of a social/economic/religious group he condemns, is irrelevant.)

“The thoughts of worldly men are for ever regulated by a moral law of gravitation, which, like the physical one, holds them down to earth. The bright glory of day, and the silent wonders of a starlit night, appeal to their minds in vain. There are no signs in the sun, or in the moon, or in the stars, for their reading. They are like some wise men, who, learning to know each planet by its Latin name, have quite forgotten such small heavenly constellations as Charity, Forbearance, Universal Love, and Mercy, although they shine by night and day so brightly that the blind may see them; and who, looking upward at the spangled sky, see nothing there but the reflection of their own great wisdom and book-learning.

It is curious to imagine these people of the world, busy in thought, turning their eyes towards the countless spheres that shine above us, and making them reflect the only images their minds contain. The man who lives but in the breath of princes, has nothing in his sight but stars for courtiers’ breasts. The envious man beholds his neighbours’ honours even in the sky; to the money-hoarder, and the mass of worldly folk, the whole great universe above glitters with sterling coin—fresh from the mint—stamped with the sovereign’s head—coming always between them and heaven, turn where they may. So do the shadows of our own desires stand between us and our better angels, and thus their brightness is eclipsed.

Everything was fresh and gay, as though the world were but that morning made, when Mr Chester rode at a tranquil pace along the Forest road. Though early in the season, it was warm and genial weather; the trees were budding into leaf, the hedges and the grass were green, the air was musical with songs of birds, and high above them all the lark poured out her richest melody. In shady spots, the morning dew sparkled on each young leaf and blade of grass; and where the sun was shining, some diamond drops yet glistened brightly, as in unwillingness to leave so fair a world, and have such brief existence. Even the light wind, whose rustling was as gentle to the ear as softly-falling water, had its hope and promise; and, leaving a pleasant fragrance in its track as it went fluttering by, whispered of its intercourse with Summer, and of his happy coming.

The solitary rider went glancing on among the trees, from sunlight into shade and back again, at the same even pace—looking about him, certainly, from time to time, but with no greater thought of the day or the scene through which he moved, than that he was fortunate (being choicely dressed) to have such favourable weather. He smiled very complacently at such times, but rather as if he were satisfied with himself than with anything else: and so went riding on, upon his chestnut cob, as pleasant to look upon as his own horse, and probably far less sensitive to the many cheerful influences by which he was surrounded.”

– Chapter 29, Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of ’80
by Charles Dickens

The Pacific – Monday Map

This map helped win the War in the Pacific, 77 years ago today

(click to enlarge)

The Pacific 1942 National Geographic Map

The February 1942 issue of National Geographic contained this map entitled the Pacific Theater of War.

It was published less than two months after the coordinated attacks launched by Japan across the Pacific and Western Asia on December 7 – 8, 1941, including the aerial bombardment of Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands.

It is not an exaggeration to say this map actually helped win the Second World War

On the 30th of September, 1942, a B-17 bomber of the United States Air Force left the island of New Caledonia, 912 miles east of Australia. It was heading to Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands, some 830 miles over open seas. On board was Admiral Chester Nimitz, the overall commander of the American force that had been engaged in a ferocious battle on Guadalcanal for nearly two months against the Empire of Japan, which would continue until February of the following year.

Due to poor weather and insufficient navigational charts, the plane was in danger of running out of fuel before it found the way to its destination. But the Admiral’s aide, Commander Hal Lamar, happened to have the February issue of National Geographic in his gear. It contained the map displayed above, which the pilot was able to use to navigate successfully, arriving with a scant few gallons of fuel remaining.

The Pacific 1942 National Geographic zoom

source: natgeo maps

The Admiral and his staff touched down in a driving rainstorm on Henderson Field, where he immediately performed an inspection of the front lines, at a time when it was seriously in doubt that the Americans could hold out against a foe that was determined to win at all costs.

Based on his firsthand assessment, Nimitz’ actions over the coming month included replacing high ranking officers involved in the battle, and proved decisive in the Allies’ first significant victory of their “island hopping” strategy in the Pacific Theater.

Without this map, Admiral Chester Nimitz and his staff could very well have ended up among the 78,700+ American service men and women listed as Missing in Action by the war’s end. And the Battle of Guadalcanal and the ensuing War in the Pacific might have gone very differently.

A wonderfully zoomable map made from the original 1942 map can be seen HERE.