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Mars? In my lifetime?

My maternal grandmother lived to be 99 ½ years.
My maternal grandfather lived to be 70 ½ years (Melanoma).
My paternal grandmother lived to be 89 ½ years.
My paternal grandfather lived to be 87 ½ years.
My father lived to be 58 years. (3rd open heart operation in the early 1970s.)
My mother lived to be 104 ½ years.

I am, ONLY because of the grace of God, now 76 years.

If God’s grace allows it, I may well live to see my boyhood’s fantasy become a reality. Then there will be at least 2 (Two) planets with life on them. And if there are two there can be, now or along the corridors of God’s deep time, through God’s grace, more; Many, many more.

Though our bodies be of infirm flesh,
Our thoughts enslaved to blood and heat;
Though we scan the skies with eyes of beasts,
Still, we would walk in fields of wheat,
And from such sheaves deduce the laws
Of war and wealth and God, and pause
To build our towns and temples, our cobblestoned streets,
And gird the very globe with grids,
And make our maps and take our measures,
And populate the final stars with our myriad
Grown from one, in the harsh soil, our single treasure.
The Wheatfield


From The Million Year Picnic by Ray Bradbury:

He dropped a leaf in the fire.

“I’m burning a way of life, just like that way of life is being burned clean of Earth right now. Forgive me if I talk like a politician. I am, after all, a former state governor, and I was honest and they hated me for it. Life on Earth never settled down to doing anything very good. Science ran too far ahead of us too quickly, and the people got lost in a mechanical wilderness, like children making over pretty things, gadgets, helicopters, rockets; emphasizing the wrong items, emphasizing machines instead of how to run the machines. Wars got bigger and bigger and finally killed Earth. That’s what the silent radio means. That’s what we ran away from.

“We were lucky. There aren’t any more rockets left. It’s time you knew this isn’t a fishing trip at all. I put off telling you. Earth is gone. Interplanetary travel won’t be back for centuries, maybe never. But that way of life proved itself wrong and strangled itself with its own hands. You’re young. I’ll tell you this again every day until it sinks in.”

He paused to feed more papers to the fire.

“Now we’re alone. We and a handful of others who’ll land in a few days. Enough to start over. Enough to turn away from all that back on Earth and strike out on a new line–”

The fire leaped up to emphasize his talking. And then all the papers were gone except one. All the laws and beliefs of Earth were burnt into small hot ashes which soon would be carried off in a wind. Timothy looked at the last thing that Dad tossed in the fire. It was a map of the World, and it wrinkled and distorted itself hotly and went– flimpf–and was gone like a warm, black butterfly. Timothy turned away.

“Now I’m going to show you the Martians,” said Dad. “Come on, all of you. Here, Alice.” He took her hand.

Michael was crying loudly, and Dad picked him up and carried him, and they walked down through the ruins toward the canal.

The canal. Where tomorrow or the next day their future wives would come up in a boat, small laughing girls now, with their father and mother.

The night came down around them, and there were stars. But Timothy couldn’t find Earth. It had already set. That was something to think about.

A night bird called among the ruins as they walked. Dad said, “Your mother and I will try to teach you. Perhaps we’ll fail. I hope not. We’ve had a good lot to see and learn from. We planned this trip years ago, before you were born. Even if there hadn’t been a war we would have come to Mars, I think, to live and form our own standard of living. It would have been another century before Mars would have been really poisoned by the Earth civilization. Now, of course–”

They reached the canal. It was long and straight and cool and wet and reflective in the night.

“I’ve always wanted to see a Martian,” said Michael. “Where are they, Dad? You promised.”

“There they are,” said Dad, and he shifted Michael on his shoulder and pointed straight down.

The Martians were there. Timothy began to shiver.

The Martians were there–in the canal–reflected in the water. Timothy and Michael and Robert and Mom and Dad.

The Martians stared back up at them for a long, long silent time from the rippling water. 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Joe Krill March 2, 2022, 9:45 AM

    Gerard, May you be Blessed with many more good years filled with friendship, enlightenment and great health. As my old friend Jim Troesh, who was a quadriplegic, used to say, “Never, ever quit.”

  • ghostsniper March 2, 2022, 9:58 AM

    When half the planet’s inhabitants are content with squabbling from the gutters it is impossible to reach for the stars.

    • B. Liever March 2, 2022, 1:36 PM

      Luke 1:37
      “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

      “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”
      -Henry Ford

      Optimism, faith, and dedication are all that’s necessary.

      • ghostsniper March 2, 2022, 2:03 PM

        You forgot the most important part, the linchpin, the keystone, that part that without nothing in this scale is possible. Vast money.

        What money there is, is vanishing as I type.
        When I was much younger I thought it was more than possible to inhabit the stars, after all, we went to the moon. But a lot of time went past, and a lot of things happened, and I grew older and more attentive and somewhere along the way I realized that I’ll never have the flying car that was on the cover of Popular Mechanics in 1964 and we will never return to the moon in my lifetime much less Mars.

      • Mike Austin March 2, 2022, 2:26 PM

        “Optimism, faith, and dedication are all that’s necessary.” Umm…no. God uses people and things and nations to work His will. Noah certainly used “optimism, faith, and dedication”, but he also used lumber, nails, carpenters, workmen, hammers and everything else needed to build an ark. God expects us to get our hands dirty.

        Those who would just sit around waiting upon God will be waiting a long time.

  • tired dog March 2, 2022, 10:04 AM

    Maybe in your (our) life.

    Must book the execrably ignorant Sheila Jackson Lee (TX 18) on the inaugural trip. She of the ‘…has the Mars rover found the flag the astronauts left behind’ question.

    Yale grad…oh well…the CONgress is truly graced with intellect.

    • Julia March 2, 2022, 11:52 AM

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  • John Venlet March 2, 2022, 10:32 AM

    I remain exceptionally skeptical of colonization of Mars, or space in general. Though we have the technology to get a rocket to Mars, possibly even one with men aboard, the technical and logistical problems, not to mention the money required to overcome the technical and logistical problems of maintaining human living conditions on Mars, remain, at this point in history, insurmountable. It’s as much science fiction as the people in Bradbury’s story peering at their reflections in a Mars canal.

    • Fletcher Christian March 2, 2022, 11:47 AM

      At this point in history. You said it!

      Elon Musk is a little like the fictional D.D. Harriman. He may well turn out to have been the most important man in history, from the vantage point of a century or two from now. And the money may well not be an issue, because of asteroid mining if nothing else.

      He will join the true greats, those who will be remembered when the Palace of Westminster and the Washington Monument are dust. Along with Newton, Einstein, Neil Armstrong, Yuri Gagarin, and whoever it is that first plants his (or her!) boots on Mars.

  • Mike Austin March 2, 2022, 11:36 AM

    I have as much desire to head for Mars as I have for moving to California. There is so much beauty here on earth; and absolute freedom if you can find it. How much freedom would one have on Mars? It would be like living your life on a tennis court while wearing a wetsuit and a deep-sea helmet.

    To all those who dream of such an adventure, my hat is off to you. Somebody has to do it. Better an American than some rando Chinaman. Much better.

    Besides, there are as yet jungles south of the Rio Grande—not many, truth be told—that have yet to feel my boots. It is there that my dream lies, my Xanadu.

    • ghostsniper March 2, 2022, 2:14 PM

      At age 18, in 1973, I set out on a motorcycle for Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina but I failed. I still want to go there but I probably never will.

      The galling part is, my next door neighbor and best friend has been there, on motorcycle no less, and I get to hear about it now and then. When he starts down that beaten trail again I get up and head to the fridge for another one….

      • Mike Austin March 2, 2022, 2:29 PM

        And therein lies a tale. Ask him how he crossed the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia.

        Been there. Done that.


        “Out of space, out of time.” Never again.

        • ghostsniper March 2, 2022, 7:25 PM

          You aren’t gonna believe this but I wondered if you’d catch that. It was a few years ago that he told me how he got across and it escapes me at the moment. In my 18 yo naivete I had no idea it wasn’t possible to motor all the way down there. Guess it’s a good thing I never got started.
          BTW, he and I are getting together this weekend for some shooting and I’m gonna ask him about that. I’m going to read your story tomorrow.

      • James ONeil March 2, 2022, 9:42 PM

        Shucky darn Ghost, From mylate teens, in the ’50s on that’s been an off and on dream of mine too, but I wanted to do it under sail gunkholing down the coast.

        Who knows, I still might make the run, starting out of Valdez if I ever finish refurbishing my Balboa 26. 😉

        • Mike Austin March 3, 2022, 4:45 AM

          I agree with Dr. Johnson: “Being in a boat is like being in prison, with a chance of drowning.” A shipwreck off the coast of Honduras (1986) cured me of any fantasies of traveling anywhere by boat. If I can’t get there by foot or by bike, I can’t get there.

  • Princess Cutekitten March 2, 2022, 5:32 PM

    You must be blessed with excellent genes, I thought you were 65-ish. (I’m 62 and when I look in the mirror I wonder who the heck painted that old lady’s face on it!)

  • LS March 4, 2022, 5:56 AM

    Within her lifetime, my grandmother listened as a schoolgirl to Lindbergh’s speeches of his exploits, to her later traveling by Concorde across the Atlantic.
    Who knows what we’ll see by the end of this century?