Growing up in Colorado, I experienced four distinct seasons every year. I loved the changes and the anticipation of the next season. When my family and I moved to Texas around thirty years ago, I often lamented about not experiencing those quarterly changes, after all, for the most part there are two seasons in Texas depending on where one lives…hot and hotter. As the years passed, so too did my seasonal laments. In fact, there is now a strong correlation between my advancing age and my fondness for warm temperatures.
I haven’t thought about seasons often over the last few years, that is, until my visit to Romania. It did not take long to remember what winter felt like. How quickly it came back to me as I walked along the shores of the Black Sea with bone-chilling winds hastening my winter recollections. Suddenly out of the recesses of my memory banks, I remembered walking to Columbian Elementary School with my friend of nearly 60 years, Orlando Montoya. Our friends and I always called him Lando and still do to this day. Every day we walked to school we had some kind of challenge, for example, walking all the way to school without touching concrete…definitely a challenge, but doable. Lando was lightening fast on his feet and during the cold winter, he loved to sneak up behind you and flick your ear lobes, leaving you in agony for several minutes if not hours….anyway back to seasons. As most of you know, when I travel, I like to walk around and take photographs. One of the things I love about traveling is that in its solitude, there is opportunity to think about things I don’t normally think about when I’m at home and usually these thoughts occur when I least expect it.
Anyway, walking along the seashore, I came across Casino Constanta, a beautiful yet haunting structure that has not been operational since 1990 due to the high cost of maintenance. The history of the Casino is one of great heights as royalty from all across Europe and also Russia visited this opulent, Art Nouveau edifice to the elite. The structure was built in the early 1900s. Now it is in disrepair and is located in Romania’s second largest city, Constanta, in a section of the city known as Old Town. Even in its decayed state, one can imagine what royal times must have been had within its walls. It was the number one vacation spot for anyone of substance, preferred over even the French Riviera. And yet, there it is, withering away…
As I laid in bed that night thinking about the day’s walk with it’s freezing temperatures, the strong winds, the crashing waves, the magnificent, yet crumbling casino, my imagination was creating scenes of royal glamour as well-dressed, sophisticated elites enjoyed the best that money could buy…gambling, music, dancing, food and drink. I began thinking about other walks I’ve taken in Romania…the crumbling buildings of another time in close proximity to modern buildings…the old, the young…beginning history, current history and old history…cold war remnants, an ongoing circle of renewal, kinda like the seasons.
I woke up at 3:00 a.m. thinking about Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 and The Byrds (Turn! Turn! Turn!).
3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every [a]purpose under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.