The Wonder of Strangeness

Yule and the Moon of the New Year

Saturday gratefuls: Jon and lunch tomorrow. Judy and the gang tomorrow, too. Snow. Fire danger dampening Snow. Falling. Falling. Falling. Brian. Slow and unsure. Not a great combination. Kep coming in with Snow all over. Rigel wobbly from her new meds. Learning more astrology. Snow coming straight down, like a Midwestern rain. Still odd to me.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Snow



Another bit of Japan. He loves the Snow, too

With Lodgepole Pines covered with Snow. With Snow falling rapidly. With a Forest outside my window, I’m struck by how often the scenes I see remind of Japanese U-kiyoe prints. Pine Limbs weighted down. The cinnamon red of the Lodgepole’s Bark. An Akita wandering happily. I have the same feeling often at Congregation Beth Evergreen where the narrow windows at the top of the sanctuary walls frame Ponderosa Limbs. Wabi-sabi. The Snow is impermanent, but beautiful in its moment with us, with the Trees. This snow fall. Ichi-go, ichi-e.

There’s just something about Asia. Or, was it Mary? Chinese and Japanese art, history, philosophy. Korean culture that I’ve learned from Seoah and her family. From K-TV. Cambodia and the wonder of Angkor. Bangkok and its temples. Its monks. Singapore and its quilt of Chinese, Malay, and Indian cultures.

Brasov, Romania

Not to say that Italy and Germany and Austria and France and England and Scandinavia and Eastern Europe don’t have their charms. Constanza, Romania. The Uffizi. The Vatican. The Kunsthistoriche. The Vienna Opera. Salzburg and its 9th century Irish monk restaurants. The British Museum. Inverness. Conway Castle. But that stuff is so in line with what I’ve already learned. So, well, Western. It doesn’t give the shock of the new to see Botticelli’s Prima Vera. It’s a wonderful, unique, soulful experience, of course, but its roots are known to me.

To sit at Wat Bayon as the sun sets over Angkor, the howler monkeys screaming, monks chanting in a newer temple across the way. To ride the maglev train from Gwangju to Incheon. Hopping a  water taxi on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. Walking the Great Wall outside Beijing. These are experiences alien to the world of Renaissance artists. Of German Romantic poets. Of the Enlightenment. And boy do I love them.

If I had to live out the rest of my life in Asia, especially Korea, I could do so happily. With Seoah and Joe, my little segment of nuclear family, my family is two-thirds Asian and one third Western.

Pre-wedding meal at Seoah’s home village. Her parents house.

The foods. Different. Hotter. Lighter. Ingredients like Hanwoo beef, raw fish, rice, fruits. Jack fruit. Delicious in a plastic baggy bought from a street vendor. That meal Mary bought us at Violet Oon’s Peranakan restaurant. Korean barbecue near the base at Osan. Seoah with her scissors snipping, snipping.

The depth of history, too. Sure that restaurant built by 9th century Irish monks in Salzburg is old. Yep. But not as old as the ancient tombs on the Mountain slopes of Korea. The wonder that is Rome and was Rome. Old. Yep. But compared to the tomb of Qin Shi Huang Di. The terracotta army. A new thing under the sun.

Egypt. That’s old. Sumer. Mesopotamia. Nineveh. Yeah. Parts of India, too. Persia.

Guess I have a jones for the old and the unfamiliar. Think of all the political upheavals, empire wrecking moments, governments that fell after long years of successful governance. Ephesus. Carthage. Angkor. X’ian. Ayutthaya. Helps me as I look at the screaming mess here in our own land.

Oct. 2021, looking toward Evergreen from my driveway

And, yet. The Rockies. The North Shore. Two places of natural wonder I know well. They match any places I’ve seen around the world. Human culture may be a passing moment in the long history of our planet, our solar system. May be. But the Rockies and Lake Superior. Wolves and Moose and Bear. They will outlive us. Probably grateful to see us go.

Life is so filled with wonder. Here. There. Everywhere. I’m glad I was born in an era when I could experience its manifold expressions.


This entry was posted in Art and Culture, Asia, Cooking, Fourth Phase, Great Work, Hawai'i, Memories, Minnesota, Mountains, Plants, Tarot, The West, Travel, US History, Weather +Climate, World History. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.