PANORAMA - 'The Great Gatsby' and going for summer gold

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A lone, pollen-laden bee buzzes away from the golden, backlit face of a sunflower on a hot summer morning.

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Like the infamous yellow-spectacled Dr. T. J. Eckleburg, gazing from his billboard over the wasteland of Jay Gatsby's world, a great horned owl finds relief from the dry summer heat atop a monument of cold stone at a local cemetery.

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Another golden summer day melts into the darkness of the night.

I remember American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald's golden boy Jay Gatsby very well.

He wasn't just "Gatsby," though.

To me he was, as the book so appropriately titled him, The Great Gatsby. This was my first really good book and, though I never admitted it in my youth, it put all my comic books, Sports Illustrated and even Jules Verne to shame.

By the time the last page of the story had been turned, I felt a detached appreciation and enlightened fear for all things that glitter with that special kind of yellow glow. Whether it was the shimmer of lost love in Daisy Buchanan's backlit hair or the lustful yearnings of the material world - its power, influence and tragedy, driven home in the rumblings of a fated yellow car - ultimately it appeared all things that carried a value required you pay the price. The endless parties at Gatsby's mansion, where the summer world hummed with rich color and life, seemed ultimately doomed to melt with the sun and horizon, then finally disappear into the darkness of night. Often the expense of a bright light was the attached void of its darkest shadow.

But even when things got dim and the title character faded beyond his own final horizon, there was something brilliant lurking in the passing moments of Gatsby's life.

With the darkness of the novel there was always the light of summer - the "yellow cocktail music" of the endless party, a celebration of new life without end.

The light of the dream.

The hope for better things.

The quest for summer's gold.

To this day, within every hot summer that comes and goes, I find the lure of Fitzgerald's great American novel haunting my daily hunt for a worthwhile moment.

One that doesn't, unlike Gatsby's quest in the summer of 1922, end.

But the sunsets, no matter how beautifully they burn and glow, eventually fade. The flowers wither. Birds fly away.

Perhaps the golden moment draws its wealth from the briefness of its existence. Like the eventual coolness of the coming evening, its destiny is to be replaced by the hot noonday sun. Within the confines of a single day it never has a chance to last.

A fleeting end comes to everything that blossoms but carried with it, on the pollen collected by tiny bees, is a new start. Buzzing off into the vast blue uncertainty of each novel moment we've ever read or been given the great privilege to see - the golden hope for tomorrow.

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