One Brief Shining Moment

I never lived in Camelot where “rain may never fall till after sunset and by eight the morning fog must disappear,” but I have shared real “brief shining moments” of what life was like in that mythical land created by Lerner and Loewe.

My latest glimpse was a few days ago – on a Tuesday morning when the usual calm embrace of Berwick Royal Oak, my semi-rural retirement residence, was interrupted by a flow of children burbling like a pebbled creek.

They were students from Strawberry Vale K-5 elementary school located on Rosedale Avenue “surrounded by Garry Oak meadows” and sporting a stream and pond as an outdoor classroom. It is home school for 304 students with what looks like 25 or 30 of them in the subdued chattering group that was politely flowing through Berwick’s corridors.

They were bright of face, neat of dress as befits students from a school listing among its aims “caring, sharing, learning,” as they were shepherded past the in-house Interdenominational Chapel, seconded this day for flu shots. While seniors waited in line for their shot, the young flood swept on in search of a bloodline grandfather or grandmother – or lacking such, a designated volunteer granddad and grandmother.

The adults were waiting in what the natives call The Zoom Room, the well-equipped exercise room where oldies like I go once in a while to dream about the days when we didn’t need machines to help us run. Or walk.

Fully in charge were the four Berwick recreation program staffers – Debby, Wendy, Annalise and Bonnie. Within minutes, they had the youngsters sorted – two students to an adult and one pumpkin to prepare for the First Annual Berwick Royal Oak Great Pumpkin Parade scheduled for 6 p.m. that evening. The workers cut and carved until it was time for the young to return to school for an afternoon of study while senior carvers sought afternoon naps.

There were 50 pumpkins – pre-prepared by Strawberry Vale and returned hollowed out for the master-mistress carvers and their carefully supervised students. Not all the end-products were masterpieces, but a few came close – and a few looked fiercely hacked and hewed. But they all looked wonderful as dusk fell and 50 orange beacons guided mothers and fathers around a patio garden trail, over a sweeping bridge, a cascading waterfall and back to a pool patio where live music played and hot chocolate was served with mini-treats for young care giving “carvers.”

As stated earlier, I never lived in Camelot – but I’ve been there for short visits as I am sure everyone who has lived to adulthood has and “Each evening before you drift to sleep upon your cot/ Think back on all the tales that you remember … that once there was a fleeting wisp of glory/ Called Camelot.”

Wonderful memories but too often accompanied with regrets of “what might have been” had we worked harder to give shining moments longer life; to make Camelot more than a dream. There is always hope that our children will succeed where we, the departing generation have failed. That they will come to understand that the openness of their childhood love, their joy in giving and sharing with refreshing laughter, their faith and trust and the quality of innocence, make much sounder foundations to build on than the one we are leaving them.


  1. We must not give up hope that our children and grandchildren will not make a hash of things as we and our predecessors have.

    But I’m sure previous generations of senior citizens have had the same wish, that their children and grandchildren, with “their faith and trust and the quality of innocence” would “make much sounder foundations to build on than the one we are leaving them.”

    At some moment, after they’ve left childhood, people seem to acquire some of the seven deadly sins, particularly, avarice or greed and pride or hubris. Thus the innocence disappears.

    Perhaps we fail with our instructions.

  2. Following your column, travels and blog over the last fifty years, I don’t think you have missed out on much

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