Sunday, November 24, 2013

First Big Snowfall

Orchids, blooming in a windowsill.
The first big snowfall of this season took us by surprise. We awoke from dreamy sleep, and looked out the window to see the whole lot covered in white . . . and silent. A big cape of white, thrown atop everything—as if to stop the world.
We ventured forth despite the cold and cumbersome streets, slipping our way along to a coffee shop that dared to open. Not as busy this morning. After coffee and the Sunday paper, we trudged for a walk in the old part of town. Our dog, Gracie, liked this new experience very much, leaping about with glee. She comes to us from California, where she never knew what cold is.
I love photographing in snow . . . it is poetic, and shapes become minimal—surfaces serene.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Storehouse Of My Mind

The storehouse of my mind is bursting and begs to be released. The most fluid, direct, and succinct way to accomplish this is by writing. Writing from memory is typically in the form of memoir. For a good memoir, there needs to be vivid recall, and studies have shown that our memories are more profound when they are accompanied by emotion. In other words, a boring life does not make for a good memoir. My life has been far from boring—especially the year that I gave up home, car, typical security, and traveled solo around the globe . . . feet firmly on the ground. I have begun writing chapters from that year; and chosen to write in the third person.

Here is a sample, taken from a chapter on Belize:

They ambled casually together, past the run-down shops, enjoying one another enough that each day when they happened to meet, they grew friendlier. The black man, Hugh, had buttery cocoa skin and wore his hair in dreadlocks. He wore old jeans, a tank top, and flip-flops on his feet. Outside a cafe one afternoon, the traveler asked Hugh if he would have his picture taken. Hugh posed bashfully, eyes twinkling and lips tightly shut. The traveler had to put down his camera and smile himself before Hugh at last grinned. Then the best picture was taken, with Hugh smiling broadly and showing a gaping hole in his top row of teeth—so that his tongue pushed through the gap.
One afternoon, Hugh took the traveler to his house. They walked out of town, about a half mile along the beach, past some respectable private homes until they reached a curve, and then, looking past a little fresh water stream emptying into the sea, Hugh pointed toward an area where it appeared a jungle had marched to the shoreline. "My place is back there," he said. They walked on and soon could spot a ramshackle hut. “My girlfriend Susie is home . . . we been together awhile . . . she is good!” He said, winking at me with his toothless smile. As we neared the hut, I noticed how primitive it was. “I built it myself” he said, “out of stuff I found.” The traveler peered into the windows lacking glass or even screens and imagined what might happen during a storm. “What about when it rains?” he asked. Hugh grinned and replied right away, “My girlfriend and I fight over the dry spots.”
We came to the front steps and Suzie stepped outside, smiling broadly.
She was plump and homely and had dreadlocks like Hugh. They went inside. There was nothing there but a few kitchen utensils and dilapidated sticks of furniture. They went out back and Hugh showed his primitive operation for collecting juice from harvested Nomi fruit, which he marketed. The traveler suggested photographing Suzie. She perked up to the idea, put down her glass of rum and changed into a hand knit dress in Rastafarian colors, barely covering her torso and ended just above her knees.
For some reason, Hugh decided to leave. He gave a knowing smile, and said he needed to go to the store and get something. Inside with Suzie, she flopped down on a chair, leaned backward with her eyes half open and spread her legs. The episode seemed odd, and he got her to stand up and pose on the front porch for photos. In a reverie, she acted sexy and posed like a model. The air was perfect and the sky clear.
Hugh did not come back before the Traveler left. That afternoon, he burned a cd with the pictures of Suzie. The next day he went back to Hugh’s but the place was empty. Looking around at the shack one last time, he placed the cd on the kitchen table and left.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Passage Of Time

When the days grow cold in Santa Fe, at least once a year, Heidi Of The Mountains decides that we will go visit her parents in their second home in Sun City, Arizona. They spend time there when the temperatures are perfect, which is usually between late October and end of April. At other times, it can be blistering hot and nobody goes outdoors. 

On our way from New Mexico, we take highways that go near the Grand Canyon, and this time we stopped there on our wedding anniversary. It is only three hours from Phoenix, but the elevation is higher and the temperatures are much lower—below freezing at night now. It is such an inspiring place—an open book on the passage of earthly time. We rented bikes and rode along trails that border the rim, stopping often at lookouts that offered breathtaking views.

Sun City is a retirement community that is within the Phoenix metropolitan area. It is very clean and quiet, with trim houses of five different designs lining the mostly empty streets. The minimum age to own a home is 55. Children are rarely seen, and for that matter the place seems rather empty, with life limited to the golf courses and shopping areas. Furthermore, it is entirely homogenous, since it is essentially white retirees, and mostly second homes—poor people are not around. 

 A wealthy community of old people with no diversity feels odd to me. On the other hand, it is entirely safe and folks passing by in their golf carts always wave hello. Yet the safety is bought, and comes from being insulated from outside society.