Falling in Love

Imbolc                                                                 Valentine Moon

“I really fell in love with that part of the world,” says Cynthia Hopkins of the Arctic, where she journeyed with other artists in 2010. “I also fell in love with the boat we were on.”  author of This Clement World opening at the Guthrie

My promiscuity.  I shamelessly fall in love over and over again when I travel.  Bangkok’s quirky Chinatown, especially on the weekend with all those restaurants set up on the sidewalks and folks walking in the densely trafficked street.  Angkor in all its viney, scorpion infested, land-mined Hindu strangeness.  Inverness and its smoky river, walking there with Kate.  Why do we ever have to leave?  That little restaurant, Crispie’s was it, just down from the Internazionale in Rome.  The Ringstrasse in Vienna.  The left bank in Paris.

(oh, yeah, Romania.  A more recent love.)

Then there was Ushuaia, that frowsy scamp of a town as far south as you can get in the Americas.  And, god, just before her, those Chilean fjords.  Let me off the boat.  Give me a small house, an internet connection and forget about me until, well, forever.  Montevideo, too.  Friendly, beefy, colorful.  Old world European with a Latin twist.

I suppose I’d have to mention those old, first loves, too.  Chicago, city of roast beef sandwiches, the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, Hyde Park.  D.C. and all its power, its monuments and museums.  And yes, like so many before me, I had a brief fling with San Francisco, but she’s so expensive, a real high-maintenance gal.

Of course, there are a few I keep, stable-like, harems of places that I visit like a ghost Sultan, flitting in and out, but always returning for one more time.  Lake Superior, especially the true north shore, the part in Ontario.  The Georgian bay of Lake Huron.  Those rocky mountains lying just at the limits of my home turf here in the U.S.  All majesty and purple.

Savannah and Charleston, yes.  The south is a guilty pleasure, that one with the dark desires, visited always with an eye to the road back north.  New Orleans, oh yes.  Dark queen of the south.  I’m sure I could return to the Okefenokee swamp.  And I confess to two trips to Red Cloud, Nebraska.  Those Grand Tetons.  Yes.  Cody, Wyoming. Yes.  Ely and the north woods.  Yes.

You see, I’m the tramp really.  Letting my heart go, letting it all go.  Loving this place and that.  I’m easy, I guess.

Oh. Yeah.

Samain                           Moon of the Winter Solstice

We have entered my favorite season of the year, the slow slide toward the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year.  Cue Robert Frost.

(Dandelions at Lapatia Bay, Kate)

In Ushuaia the sun did not set until 9:30 pm.  Here it sets at 4:30.  As we traveled south along the west coast of South America, the days grew longer and longer.  The evening I went into Ushuaia to have supper, it was 8:00 pm and still quite light.  People strolled the streets, window shopping, holding hands, glancing here and there at other walkers.

They’re headed for a date with December 21st as well, but for them it will be the summer solstice and the longest day of the year.  I knew this intellectually, but it was the little things, like taking pictures of the dandelions at Lapatia Bay, the southernmost harbor of Tierra del Fuego, that pressed its reality into my experience.  Let’s see.  Dandelions here.  Leafless trees at home.  Spring.  Autumn.  Oh. Yeah.