Sunday Wanderings

Ceramic Doll Head

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.

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16 responses to “Sunday Wanderings

  1. Sassy, this sounds like a great day! Did you buy the ceramic bust you pictured? It would look great with your collection of oddities.

    I have been a few places where I have the history of the earth–a civil war battlefield in Kennesaw, GA, a cemetery in Cambridge, MA, a 500-year-old street in Salvador, Brazil. Some place just glow with history.

  2. It was a great day. I didn’t buy the little thing (it was expensive), but I did buy some old 45s with great covers. I’m going to hang them together. I’ll post a picture when I figure out what to do with them.

    The last time I really felt that was in Rome, but I get a similar feeling around here (don’t laugh, European friends—I know that your stuff is older). I don’t know what to make of it, honestly. Part of me really doesn’t like the idea, but another part of me is fascinated by the traces we leave.

  3. Being a history lover I can’t help but think about those who stood in the places before me and seeing the same things they saw.

  4. I was just getting caught up over at Kav’s, and noticed you had recommended Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Left Hand of Darkness.” I’m a UKL fan (if I had money, I’d be stalking her), too. Small world, no? Have you read all her other works? I’m screwed, as our crappy library system doesn’t carry her more obscure poetry titles, and those heartless bastards at B&N refuse to let me pay with my good looks.

  5. Fucking Hell! Don’t do that to me!
    A man of my age begins to think of his own mortality and clicking onto your blog then jumping two feet in the air with a shriek is not good for my heart.
    That is SCARY!

    And Nature is, unfortunately, the Victim of human history.

  6. Me too, Knudsen. I’m always fascinated by it. I’m just not sure if, like Dive, I want to think of how we’ve victimized the Earth.

    Fat Sparrow! I do hope that this finds you feeling much better. Great to hear from you. I’ve read a few short stories by Ursula Le Guin, but the Left Hand of Darkness was the first novel I’ve read of hers. I really liked it, so I think I might try to scrounge up some more. Our library here is so horrible that I never bother to look there for anything.

    Dive, I liked the thing because it was a bit creepy, but I’m sorry to give you a fright.

  7. It’s scary in the same way that Palin the torturer’s baby mask was in Brazil …
    Ew … shudder …

  8. If you want that weird sense of history and memory, go out back behind our workplace, into the woods, on the trail that runs past a pond, where you can’t see our building anymore. I once sat out there on a rock, and visualized (while meditating) colonial soldiers and a British soldier they had captured.

  9. You know, Dive, you are absolutely right. A theater around here showed Brazil a while back. It was amazing to see it on the big screen.

    Before Girl, I’ve often wondered what this whole place looked like before the industrial park.

  10. Oh, and Dive, I totally played with that picture to emphasize the scary.

  11. Just looking at it again, the really scary bit is that somebody actually MADE that, and probably thought it was a good idea!
    I’m certainly not going walking in the woods with the image of that face in my head.

  12. Hee hee. It will come after you.

    It was rather cute, I thought. But then I thought that it should be a bit freaky.

  13. Cute but freaky. Sounds like my kinda gal.

  14. How can a conversation about an impending divorce be boring? Lives being ruined. Crying. Shattered dreams.

    Thats some good shit. ;)

    Steve~

  15. Steve, trust me. There were no lurid details. It was just the same old, same old. Welcome back. How was the blogging vacation?

  16. Oh, oh, if you can get it, I highly recommend UKL’s “Always Coming Home.” Sheer brilliance. And as a native Californian (she was raised here, too), it really strikes a chord, as she gets the atmosphere just right. Oh, oh, and “The Dispossessed.”

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