It’s still way too hot here for January, but at least I needed a light sweater today. Inspired by the sunshine, I took off for a little town not too far from here and did some wandering around. Apparently I wasn’t the only one inspired. A street musician, wearing some multi-colored quilted jacket, was wailing away on his recorder. In between little trills on the thing, he’d yell out “Aieeee!” or “Arghhhhh!” I tried not to make eye contact with the madman as I passed, but he started to follow me a little bit, inclining his head in my direction as I sped away. I ducked into a shop, and the owner explained that he just does that. She simultaneously turned the music up a bit louder. Poor thing, having to endure that all day.
After walking around for a bit and getting a junk-shop fix (where I saw the ceramic bust, above) I stopped for a coffee at a little café. There I did some knitting, reading, and uninteresting eavesdropping (gossip about a friend’s impending divorce—these friends don’t think it’s a good idea—and the wonders of Tide detergent pens). It always disappoints me when I take the time to listen in and the conversation’s boring. Oh well. I was being rude, so I guess it serves me right.
I also read this interesting passage from my book (The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova, a little literary candy about vampires). In it, the father of the narrator is musing about the change in landscape from Istanbul to Budapest:
It is a gradation of towns, of architecture, of gradually receding minarets blended with the advancing of church domes, of the very look of forest and riverbank, so that little by little you begin to believe you can read in nature itself the saturation of history. Does the shoulder of a Turkish hillside really look so different from the slope of a Magyar meadow? Of course not, and yet the difference is as impossible to erase from the eye as the history that informs it is from the mind. Later, traveling this route, I would also see it alternately as benign and bathed in blood—this is the other trick of historical insight, to be unrelentingly torn between good and evil, peace and war.
I thought briefly about the way the Earth has memory that can be sensed from being in a place. I also resisted the though, because I don’t like to think of nature as being solely a reflector of human history—we don’t define it; it defines us. But then my coffee was getting cold, and it was time to go.