Monday, July 26

places and possibilities

Pitkerro roundabout, Dundee, Scotland

thinking about going places. far away places.

nearby places have their charm... but running errands is mostly tiring; walking the dog is lovely but routine.

summer and travel go together most years. or they have in the past, anyway. lately it seems like so long since I've gone anywhere new just to see what's there and what it looks like.

as i reread some of my old journals, it seems astonishing how much I traveled even just five or six years ago. so much back and forth home for holidays, random cities for conferences or helping friends move, and a few weeks-long adventures for studying abroad. it seems like half my journal entries back then were prefaced with "notes from [insert name of airport here]." 

ink doodle of abstract swirls, a woman's head and shoulders, and the word 'risk' 

there are many reasons for the relative lack of travel these days, of course. there's a pandemic still wandering around mutating and spreading. small, short, careful trips seem best. we also just bought a house, so it's everyone's turn to come visit us now, to see what's here.

here is pretty beautiful, I must say. we have an ancient volcano overlooking some very fine walking and biking trails. we have (unlike last year, during which this rainstorm was practically the only one) an almost-nightly pattern of refreshing monsoons feeding into a bunch of glorious greenery. we have cool mornings and a very serviceable set of patio furniture. and a fire pit too, for roasting things and for cozy evening ambiance.

dutch angle landscape, blue sky and clouds

last week Jeremiah's aunt and uncle stopped by for a night on their way from west to east. they brought a handsome dog named Herschel with them and we had a grand time showing them around, catching up on each others' lives, and playing a bit of mahjong.

who else wants to come visit? we can teach you mahjong if you like. or we can hike up to the top of Glassford Hill and have a picnic.

purple/green pastel oil crayons + black ballpoint on cereal cardboard

what else? 

I've been teaching this summer. small sections of Technical Report Writing over two six-week terms. it's been mostly fun. but I'll be glad for a few weeks' break between summer and fall classes starting up. maybe we'll go camping. maybe we'll squeeze in one more tiny, careful roadtrip. or throw one or two more dinner parties. or just sleep in more and read all the books. 

my other activities for summer have included daily morning walks with our restless little Hamilton pug, pulling weeds out of our rock-covered yard, potting and re-potting succulents (new and old), tending to a dying basil plant and a thriving tomato plant (many thanks to my dad), taking a few bike rides, committing to bits of yoga, baking too much for two people, and reading outside as often as I can get away with.

oh, and I'm running a little game of Dungeons and Dragons-- a pre-written adventure entitled Curse of Strahd. there haven't been any dragons in it yet, but there might be. it's proving quite interesting and entertaining. ostensibly, I am using this set of published ideas to create a backdrop of tension and danger mixed in with meaningful story and fun rewards for the players who roleplay in the foreground of it all. from the first few sessions though, I've felt like my role is equal parts creator and observer. the player characters are out there on a stage that I threw together, putting on fascinating and rich performances for us all. I hope I get better at it so I can keep doing it and find out what happens next.

in other news, I want to soon blog properly about Braiding Sweetgrass and all its lovely messages about paying attention to nature. I should also finish reading and taking some more organized notes on a few books about collaborative writing pedagogy. there is a conference talk to prepare in the next two months, and always more scholarly books to read. one on my mind this afternoon is Against the Romance of Community, the pdf of which is sitting around in at least three digital folders somewhere, waiting with its few scattered annotations for me to get back into it. 

I know it's kind of cheesy to use books as a stand-in for travel, but ah well. if Scotland and Paris and Germany and London and Beijing are out of reach for the next long while, at least I can read and re-read about everywhere else. everyone else. all their connections and intricate influences on one another.

101 Victoria Road and neighboring brick row houses 

and because I needed an excuse to type it all out for myself here, I'm going to include these paragraphs from near the end of Kimmerer's book about indigenous wisdom. this chapter is called "People of Corn, People of Light," all about the marks we are leaving on the earth through our ways of being, our ways of knowing, and our stories.

"Many Indigenous peoples share the understanding that we are each endowed with a particular gift, a unique ability. Birds to sing and stars to glitter, for instance. It is understood that these gifts have a dual nature, though: a gift is also a responsibility. If the bird's gift is song, then it has a responsibility to greet the day with music. It is the duty of birds to sing and the rest of us receive the song as a gift. ....
"Other beings are known to be especially gifted, with attributes that humans lack. Other beings can fly, see at night, rip open trees with their claws, make maple syrup. What can humans do?
"We may not have wings or leaves, but we humans do have words. Language is our gift and our responsibility. I've come to think of writing as an act of reciprocity with the living land. Words to remember old stories, words to tell new ones, stories that bring science and spirit back together to nurture our becoming people made of corn." (p. 347) 

I promise I'll blog more about this lovely book one day soon, blog-all-dogeared-pages style. and if you've read it too, let's have an impromptu book club about it so I can hear all your thoughts. wouldn't that be fun?

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