“Who Knows Where the Time Goes?”

By Rosalie Tirella

“Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” This is the title of the beautiful Sandy Denny song, written by her when she was just a kid with Fairport Convention. In the 1970s, when I was around her age. Just a kid, too. I love everything about Denny’s record: the melody, Denny’s pretty but husky-around-the-edges voice. Her lyrics especially. Denny sings, begins her song with an image of her watching a flock of birds flying across the sky one autumn eve and asks of their migration to warmer climes: “How do they know when to leave?”

Your heart, if you’re an older person like me, and have lived through many seasons, many births and deaths, aches a little at the question. You learn in grade school: It is their “Instinct.” But what does that mean? You still don’t know the answer! Only now tbe question brings tears to your eyes. Now you know you will never understand God’s handiwork. You’re just a broad with a newspaper living in Worcester. Just a human. You are part of the poem but not responsible for the goose poetry. And you are aging, like the tree in the parking lot outside your house – its crooked branches and your crooked fingers make a funny pair!

Rose’s left pinky. pics:R.T.

Still, every year you see the same beautiful patterns – even in Worcester. You look up to see the geese in their perfect V shape, up against the grey fall sky, and you are in awe! Three or four big fat wild turkeys are in the parking lot, strutting by your old Hyundai and you feel their magic. Still! Every year you wonder, the question slips through your mind for a few seconds only because you do not want an answer: How do the birds know it is time to leave?

Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

Nature’s signals stronger than ever during these COVID 19 days. Last I checked it was January and I was giving out hats and scarves to homeless men and women under the Green Street bridge … Then COVID struck. St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, now Memorial Day happened, came and went, and I do not recall anything. Except that the trees were bare and now they are sprouting new moist leaves – looking beautiful. The days ended abruptly – now daylight lingers until I am sleepy, almost ready for bed. My landlord, 80 and living alone in the country (which he loves) told me: My best days are behind me. He wants no part of LifeLine Senior Rescue alarm. He said, “I go to bed with the birds and I wake up with them.” Only they will know when he is gone. And they will still sing their songs!

The little kids in the neighborhood, not in school for weeks, sheltering in place with their parents, fall backwards onto the summer lawn when they run outdoors. They look at the sky as they lie on their backs … stare at the beautiful blueness. They believe in it now. They see summer in her, high above them, and maybe wonder: Where am I? In March? In April? In May? Under the warm sky!!

Even the old sky is pristine again! It is getting healthier, cleaner, quieter now that we humans have been in “lockdown.” Everything has stopped as we humans all over the world have sheltered in place to not catch the novel coronavirus. And maybe die from it.

Where has the time gone?

I miss my late Mom, Cecelia, but can only picture her veiny hands when I close my eyes these days. I can’t count the number of cats I have loved and owned (feels like 20) … my dogs, the ones who have passed, are still loved by me but their personalities faded. Will I ever forget my favorite, my beloved Husky-mix, Jett?


I remember every story The Old Beau told me when we were together. About growing up in Lynn and about his parents and his dead pet rabbits in their hutche outside his house – a floppy ear the only part remaining of one pet. I remember him telling me how when he was very young and just married and he and his pretty young wife were groundskeepers/carpenters for a motel chain/B and B inn in Vermont, how when he was doing handyman work one summer day on a building on the grounds but moved his ladder up a ways, to their building, their second floor bedroom and how The Old Beau leapt in through the window scaring the heck out of his wife as she was getting dressed for work and … then made love to her. Saw him last week … he walks with a cane these days. His long hair silver. Still gorgeous.

Who knows where the time goes?

Not me! That’s for sure!