Old pennies

Posted by Ken Campbell June 18, 2008 0 Comment 661 views

There are buildings in Prague that are 900 years old. Imagine that. Actual structures, multi-storey homes and public houses, some of them built on foundations laid by Roman conquerors centuries before. Around the Old Town Square in downtown Prague, Staromestska namesti, the gothic buildings stand as they have for so many years, through so many changes.

We have learned to treasure the old things. The lesson has been slow in coming and the teaching is still not completed, but there is something about the past, the people and events that have come before, that most civilized folk have an interest in preserving. Even here in North America, where architecture is nowhere near the age of that in Prague, even here there are reminders of the days and times that came before this one. A highway memorial or a plaque on a park bench, with the names of people you don’t recognize but who were obviously people of some substance. Glimpses of wooden farmhouses off in the distance, through draperies of willows and framed against a green, green background. Old places, where some settler was killed by Indians or where Butch Cassidy spent the night.

“Old pennies,” I call them. Like when you count out the change in your pocket, sifting through the coins. Once in a while, one of those old pennies with the crossed wheat on the tails side will jump out at you. It’s old, it’s not like the others. It’s a connection to a time that, although not particularly ancient, is still a time that is gone now, and not expected to return. Old pennies, connections to the past.

There are spruce trees in the Hoh River valley that were a hundred feet tall when the builders of Old Town Square were still soiling their chlupatý. These are ancient beings, by anyone’s measure, transcending time itself. These are among the oldest things in the world, the longest continuing link to all of the previous chapters in this ongoing saga, this captivating tale in which we all play a part.

Very old pennies, indeed.

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