THERE IS a time for flowers and a time for roots and I was very glad to learn Jayne Ikard's ancestors arrived in good shape this week from Vineyard Haven.
She and her husband, Frank, the head of the Petroleum Institute, have this new house and there has been plenty of space to hang some of her husband's family portraits.
The more she thought of it, the more she thought it unfair not to have a few representing the female side of this marrriage, but she happens not to possess her own family pictures. So she ordered some suitable ancestral oils from the Bruce and Brandy shop at Vineyard Haven and, as noted, they arrived this week. She has no idea who they are, of course.
They just look grand. One lady, done up in an Italian gilt frame with shells and perhaps cupids too, has evidently just finished building Beacon Hill.
One 18th century-type lady is garbed in sober clothes and a bonnet with an outrageous twinkle in her eyes. The costume doesn't fool anybody. A hellion from Old Lyme.
Anyway, the sellers were surprised that Jayne Ikard bought them sight unseen. "Don't you want to see if you like them?" they asked.
"Of course not, said the purchaser. "That would be snobbish and rude as well. When you have children, you have no idea what they are going to look like, you take what you get. I feel it is the same way with ancestors. It is wrong to pick and choose."
So now the husband's family portraits will be properly balanced by the wife's Alex Haley, meet Gloria Steinem.
Sometimes people grow up in houses where the past hangs partly like a glory and partly like a weight over every green grout. Persons in such places are often helped immeasurably by a course in biology or, for that matter, a tour if French places like Chartres where they have those Tree of Jesse windows.
From science one learns the roots go farther base than the end of the 17th century, far back past Lincolnshire, past the Danes, past the Romans. All the way to the warm sea and her first bright germ.
And everyone admires those old windows in old churches with a flowering sunburst at the top, and all up the height of the glass are pictured leafy branches with men and women perched on them. At the bottom is old Jesse, sound asleep, and the tree grows out of his sleeping form, and no doubt his aching back.
It doesn't make much difference, in such windows who the people are, peering gravely out along the branches. Some of the names are known, some not, but the tree grows through them also. They are person of import. Not because they manage to sell their tobacco at a whale of a price in 1961, or because they decided Marbury versus Madison, or because they were princes of Judah.
Their only importance in the design of cobalt and scarlet is the flowering above them flashed with sun. They must have had lives of their own, been late to dinner, weathered the storms.
Makes no diference. Through them the tree grew. Age by age they were not the glory of their generation, their flower was not yet, and the only glory they had was that they lived, that they branched. And at last the radiance everyone had dreamed of and nobody expected. Sudden like a flower.
When I first saw the window at St. Denis, I realized there is only so much space in any design so they had to stop somewhere, but I was sorry they only began with Jesse. Under his shoulder is a spot of color, which is sometimes called a slight imperfection of the glass, but which is clearly something else, the blob in the sea that first felt more than just temperature from the sunshine.
So I wish the next ancestors well. Jesse's and Jayne's alike and peace (as a wit once said) within their walls.
The concrete monkey that used to stand in tight esthetic relationship to the concrete ostrich in front of Wheaton Woods elementary school has vanished.
I do not say there has been a crime. But there have been victims. This was the only serious and sophisticated piece of sculpture the schoolchildren had, and while the artist (Elaine Pear Cohen of Stony Brook is replacing it, still a violation has occurred, as if Khafre vanished from the Cairo Museum.
It seems clear that without authorization and evidently surreptitiously, the monkey was sharply chiseled beneath the hind paws on which he so bravely stood, and just vanished.
"I hate to think of him in some fraternity house," said the artist, who thinks the disappearance may have been a prank of some sort.
"If he was so neatly chiseled beneath his paws," said one analyst, "maybe a sculptor stole him."
"Imagine another sculptor liking him that much," said the artist, beginning to think better of things. Artists are so easily made happy, and so quickly lose sight of hard facts.
Boiling art thieves in oil is what the world needs now.
The Environmental Fund has erected a Population Clock (like an enormously enlarged pocket computer) at 1302 18th St. N.W., to remind us all that every minute the world gains 172 additional people. It started clicking on Wednesday. The Fund is concerned with population statistics, and glum prophecies therefrom, and they choose the name mainly to remind such environmental groups as the Sierra Club that if population does not slow does not slow down there "won't be a blade of grass, let alone a sequoia tree" left on the earth. The president, Justin Blackwelder, has no bright answers, really.
If you tell him you understand there is a great deal of reproducing going on, he merely says:
"Yes, and it had damned well better stop."
A book about rabbits has been dumped on my desk and presuming this was connected in some way with my work, I glanced at it but did not find it germane. On the theory, however, that warnings should always be relayed. I will quote one sentence that may save somebody (or some rabbit) heartbreak:
"Do not use your hair dryer on your rabbit."
For that matter, I would not put my rabbit in the shower, but one warning at a time.
Few joys approach the victory of sawing out and then hanging your own door and having it work. Happiness is fits. My woodshed, now under construction, and said to be an Important Shed, by fine critics, has a door.
Seventeen inches wide, five feet 10 inches high.Not all that monumental, but that I am not expecting the arch-bishop of York and his entourage to go fetch a log. We speak of the "opening of a door" with grand symbolic meanings. But only those who ever sawed one out of wood and got the hinges right, know triumph.