Natural History magazine, December 2000–January 2001
I Have Landed
In the final essay of this twenty-seven-year series,
the author reflects on continuity—from family history
to the branching lineage of terrestrial life.
|I would nominate as most worthy of pure awe the continuity of the tree of earthly life for 3.5 billion years, without a single microsecond of disruption.|
|Family genealogy is our tiny twig on the great tree of life. Evolution is “roots.”|
|“I never met with so sweet a temper, so self-sacrificing and affectionate a disposition.”|
— Thomas H. Huxley, on first meeting
Henrietta Heathorn in Australia, 1849
For years now I have been reading your books, and I think I should really thank you for the pleasure and intellectual stimulation I have received from you. But how to make even a small return for your essays? The answer came to me this week. I am a genealogist who specializes in passenger-list work. Last Sunday I was rereading that touching essay that features your grandfather, Joseph A. Rosenberg, who wrote “I have landed. Sept. 11, 1901.” It occurred to me that you might like to see his name on the passenger list of the ship on which he came.
|I loved my grandparents fiercely and reveled in their unconditional blessing and unvarying support—not always deserved, for I really did throw that rock at Harvey.|
|I can say goodbye to this particular forum because I know that I will never run out of unkept promises or miles to walk.|