C–who got his undergrad degree at the same university that I’m getting my grad degree– jokes that he sees more of the campus’s flowers now, through my pictures, than he ever did as a student. To which remark I roll my eyes and invariably reply with some idiotic crack about stopping and smelling the roses or seeing the forest for the trees. (oh, so so clever.) And then I take another picture.
Here’s what has been catching my eye lately:
My title is from “Talking Back to the Mad World” by Sarah C. Harwell. I think this is what I love so much about these flowers–they are a gift. They are unexpected, I don’t do anything to grow them. I wander by and they are just there–beautiful, someone else’s responsibility, I just enjoy.
I will not tend. Or water,
pull, or yank,
I will not till, uproot,
fill up or spray.
The rain comes.
Or not. Plants: sun-fed,
Watch as flocks
of wild phlox
appear, disappear. My lazy,
makes this nothing
nothing. The world
runs its underbrush
course fed by
the nothings I give it.
Wars are fought.
Dirt is a wide unruly room.
This week marked the end of my Boston/Cape Cod/Rockport adventuring and my return to whatever reality an extraordinarily relaxed summer represents. Which is fine–I like my reality, on most days–but before I get into that, here are a few more images of my favorite things from vacation.
We took a day trip to Rockport on Monday. Rockport is a gorgeous little fishing and tourist town at the tip of the Cape Ann peninsula in Massachusetts. Quirky shops cater to the souvenir-minded tourist; fishing boats and piles of lobster traps, against the background of the beautifully rocky coast, are almost unbelievably picturesque. That picturesque reputation is responsible for much of Rockport’s economy: after the granite industry in the area was no longer productive, and as the fishing industry began to peter out, an art colony–which later developed into the thriving tourist trade–supplied the deficit. Motif #1, so named because it was often one of the first landscapes a visiting artist would attempt, is one of the most popular sights in Rockport. (Read more about Motif #1 here.) As I’m not exactly of an artistic bent, I just took pictures. Many, many pictures.
Rockport marked the end of our journeying. On Tuesday we packed the car, and on Wednesday I drove myself, the dog and the long-suffering cat back to DC. (An eight hour trip with a cat and a dog in a car that is completely full is an adventure, to put it mildly. We all survived. Some of us were not happy.) And while I hate the end of an adventure, it’s nice for things to get back to normal. (It helps that I’m planning another trip to visit the boyfriend in Boston next month.) But here, home again, I’m slowly but surely unpacking the car, catching up on laundry, prepping blog posts, restocking the fridge, making to-do lists, and planning home improvement projects and sewing projects and recipes and all of the things that the busy school schedule prevents. And that’s also one of my favorite things.
C and I have spent the last several days vacationing on Cape Cod. We’ve been touring and shopping and eating perhaps more than strictly necessary and lazing around on the beach and generally just relaxing and remembering what it means to feel human. And it has been absolutely wonderful. It’s early enough in the season that the beaches are empty; the restaurants and shops that will be packed in a month are still enjoyable. It’s a little cool for swimming, though there are the intrepid few, but I’m content to dabble my feet in the shallows and watch the waves crash.
Amazingly, as much as I love wine, I’ve never toured a winery. We tried a few years ago at the Biltmore in North Carolina, but ended up just waiting out a storm with a glass of wine (or two) and skipping the tour. This time, though, the weather was glorious during our expedition to the Truro Vineyards. We tromped through grape arbors and aging facilities and left with perhaps a few more bottles of wine than planned. Which is perfectly fine by me.
Mother of god, we ate a lot. There’s another post in the works about my favorite meals, drinks, clam chowders and over-all restaurant experience on the Cape–and wow, did we found some great ones–but even more than all of that deliciousness, I love sitting in the sunset, sipping something fabulous, re-living the best parts of the day.
I tend to stop at bookstores. I always think– and I’m usually right– that there is some amazing find, buried behind that precarious pile of paperbacks. We visited several amazing bookstores: I walked away with nine incredible finds, had a weirdly intense conversation with a bookstore clerk about the merits of Roland Barthes, and thoroughly enjoyed the hours I spent browsing the shelves.
We spent a day and a half exploring a few of the beaches around Cape Cod. C likes to look for sea glass; I like to sit on the beach and stare at the waves. There’s something about the water crashing in that makes all of my hoarded up stress just float away. And more than some fantastic drink or an amazing book, that was my favorite thing of all.
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The spark of life is not gain, nor is it luxury. The spark of life is movement, color, love. And furthermore, if you really want to enjoy life, you must work quietly and humbly to realize your delusions of grandeur.
~A Soldier of the Great War, Mark Helprin
I love that. Working to make your delusions of grandeur a reality. So less fatalistic than the perspective usually given to seemingly impossible dreams.
And on this dreary and drizzly May morning in DC, I’m spending the day treading the long and dusty path from Rome to Saint Angelo with Allessandro and Nicolò, listening to reminiscences about life in Italy before the war, falling in love with the girl next door, and dreading the devastation that is to follow.
Though in what listening horror for the cry
That soars in outer blackness dismally,
The dumb blind beast, the paranoiac fury:
Exquisite in the pulse of tainted blood,
That shivering glory not to be despised.Take your delight in momentariness,
Walk between dark and dark—a shining space
With the grave’s narrowness, though not its peace.
This morning I’m thinking about the character of Harper Pitt in Angels in America. I’m trying to locate an opinion about a marginalized group in a play about marginalized groups. Is Kushner re-enforcing the trope of the silenced woman, who exists as a prop for male sexuality, or revealing it? Investigating or relying on the preconception of the female as mad? In this post-everything age of gender politics, is focusing specifically on the female role in a play about AIDS and gay identity somehow repressive or restrictive? Am I missing the point? Or does this play just rewrite a binary of male subjectivity and female secondary positions in a more fabulous key?
“By writing her self, woman will return to the body which has been more than confiscated from her, which has been turned into the uncanny stranger on display–the ailing or dead figure, which so often turns out to be the nasty companion, the cause and location of inhibitions. Censor the body and you censor breath and speech at the same time. Write yourself. Your body must be heard.”
–Helene Cixous, The Laugh of the Medusa