far too much writing, far too many photos

[continued from previous entry]

Have been back in Vermont for… a while now. Closing in on two weeks. Far too long. The days swing past (light, dark, rain, sun…), blurring together. Montpelier is awash with tourist traffic, vehicles sporting a rainbow-colored assortment of out-of-state plates. Occasionally, cars bearing plates from New York or New Jersey put on a scary show of ignoring traffic laws.

Rain has been a prominent feature of the weather during this warm season, people grumbling about it to the point that you’d think it’s rained every single day, morning and night. When someone brings it up in conversation, I mention that the precipitation isn’t frozen, there’s no ice scattered about, no snow or sleet falling — which led me to realize that some part of me is still lodged in that long winter expectation of looking out the window and seeing snowbanks, ice skids — the relief at not finding any is so sweet that I really don’t give a damn about rain, and the times of blue skies bring deep, deep pleasure.

Something I’ve noted lately during this period between extended field trips: all of my closest people live elsewhere. I’m good at filling the days with activity, but the difference from being off in other parts of the world where I have friends/loved ones and being here is big. Being here means lots more time spent on my own. Which is not a bad thing up to a certain point — after that point, it gets me appreciating time spent in the company of good souls (case in point: this last Sunday, first meeting with friends up on a hillside — conversation and sweeping views –- then meeting up with a newer friend, being driven along country two-lanes, views appearing and disappearing, me remembering how nice it is to have someone else at the wheel, allowing me to relax and enjoy warm-season Vermont).

Something else I’ve noticed: being in P-town woke up long-dormant sense memories of living around water, of the pleasure in the sounds, of the smells and the feel of the air, of big bodies of water being a basic part of the visuals along with the transient, unexpected moments of beauty they bring.

Now I wake up in the middle of the night, I hear no sounds of surf. I smell no salt in the air. On certain days of high humidity, the air has a softness that feels good to my skin. But it’s not exactly the same.

Ah, well. Everything moves on. This will too.

España, te echo de menos

[continued from previous entry]

Waking up in the wee hours, listening to the sound of surf. Walking through shallow pools of saltwater at low tide, ripples of light moving through the water.

Listening to music made by wrens and warblers (one sitting atop the arm of an anemometer mounted on the water-facing side of a nearby building, singing its heart out from morning till evening). Taking long walks into the town center to get caffeinated, to enjoy excellent people-watching, to wander in and out of galleries.

G. & S. spend a substantial part of their time in this small corner of the world, during a walk to the farmers market in the town center with them on Saturday morning, I got a bird’s-eye view of the depth of their social network, them running into friend after friend, stretching a simple excursion into a three to four hour jaunt. An amazing display, featuring a pile of good people.

And speaking of amazing displays, that weekend kicked off ‘Bear Week.’ By Monday, a near flood of large men flowed through the streets of the town. Large, sometimes brawny, sometimes brawny/heavyset, sometimes just heavyset (’heavyset’ here meaning something beyond a modest pudginess). Surprisingly, not that many seem to be furry.

My final day there, S. suggested a trip out to the town’s west end to walk out along the jetty. Good idea, thought I. We got out the two resident bicycles, made our way through the town center, continued along residential streets lined that led us into sweet, funky neighborhoods and out to the moors, the jetty, sweeping views. Locked up bikes, headed out along the breakwater, talking, moving from one massive chunk of concrete to another, until we’d crossed over to the spit of land that forms the tip of the Cape.

A sweet cool breeze blowing, beachgoers scattered around, gulls standing at the water’s edge, facing into the wind. From there, we made a decision to walk the long way around instead of doubling back over the jetty, an extended slog — very, very, very extended — ending two hours later, my farmers tan massively darker than it had been that morning. (And why a farmer’s tan? Because for some inexplicable reason I set out on this jaunt wearing black jeans, a loose shirt, sneakers, socks, leaving only face, forearms and neck exposed to lovely, life-giving sunlight.)

That evening, my final evening: the day’s second field trip, this time to see Paula Poundstone — she whose trademark is talking with members of the audience, riffing off of what comes out of that. In this case, talking to a couple who own and run a B&B in P-town, it came out that one of them had been an attorney in an earlier incarnation, leaving job and life in the N.Y./N.J. area to move to lovely P-town and change careers. Probing questions from Ms. P. about the kind of law the innkeeper used to practice produced this answer: “I worked for a company called AIG.” A nanosecond of amazed silence gave way to a string of gleeful commentary from Ms. P., the laughter in the room growing louder, more intense second by second. S., next to me, sat laughing helplessly. A genuine scene.

After the show, at a popular cafeteria-style joint for supper, the place turning out to be packed, bears providing a huge percentage of those in attendance. And as S. and I. ate at an outside table, watching the scene swirl around us in the newly fallen darkness Miss Richfield 1981 appeared on a scooter-cart — wearing an amazing, whacked-out get-up — threading her way through the heaving mass of bears, tourists, etc., talking at the top of her lungs, shmoozing tirelessly, promoting her current show, attempting to drum up a full house for the 10 p.m. performance. Her manner balanced out the visual outrageousness — a relentless display of good-humored extroversion, attracting all kinds of people, handling them with glib fearlessness. Her scooter-cart moved slowly through the crowd, patter continuing non-stop as she went, until she disappeared into the restaurant. A short time later, she emerged, energy not even close to waning. She piloted her way back to the street, parked, got to her feet and held court. As skillful and likeable a performance as Ms. Poundstone’s, in its own out-there way (though with that out-thereness many with mainstream tastes might find it a whole lot more scandalous and unnerving).

[continued in following entry]

España, te echo de menos

Back in Vermont after an impossibly fast week away. One night in Cambridge, Mass. Six nights in Provincetown, Mass. One more night in Cambridge, just for the hell of it. Me mostly obnoxiously happy during all that, hanging about with friends.

Remembering what I like about Cambridge/Boston: life, activity, lots to do. Great people-watching. Decent Mexican chow. Plenty of live music. (Watched a set at a teeny club in Porter Square, a good band whose singer desperately needed time with an image consultant.) Tree-lined streets, gardens in full bloom.

Next morning, post-rush-hour, on the road heading toward Provincetown, remembering something I don’t especially like about Cambridge/Boston: hellacious traffic. An accident well along the Southeast Expressway turned what would normally be a five-minute drive into 30 minutes of stop-and-go. Ah, well.

And then Provincetown, out at the very tip of the Cape. A sweet, wacky place, packed with big crowds of people at this time of the year, surrounded by water, beaches, wetlands, lighthouses.

Stayed with friends, G.&S., in their squat on the bay. Ate good chow. Relaxed. Endured daily television coverage of the tour de france (a fetish of S.’s). Tormented Entertained the condo’s resident kitties with a laser pointer. Read, lay out in the sun, blah blah blah. Day after day of good, clean fun.

G. returned to Cambridge on Sunday, S. followed on Monday, leaving me to relax, enjoy a day of perfect weather, feed kitties, etc.

So. Monday evening: me sitting on the sofa, shoveling down the evening meal, watching a DVD. The cats had been putting on a bizarre show with their litter box during the previous day or two — spending five, ten minutes at a pop going through the motions of burying kitty waste, much of the time flailing at the wall or at the box’s plastic lining, producing annoying sounds, getting nothing done. Often doing this at night, when nearby humans were attempting to get a little shuteye, free of bizarre, insistent scratching noises created by psychotic felines.

As I sat eating, one of the cats — the saner, more approachable of the two — starts flailing away in the litter box (positioned conveniently right next to the sofa). I attempt to ignore, attention on food and movie, until I am just about knocked over by a wave of stink — some of the foulest, lung-burningest kitty poop stink I have ever had the bad luck to breathe in. I look over at kitty box, cat jumps out, races away guiltily. I stand up, look more closely, discover that for a change the cat has actually left something that needs to be buried — a hair-raisingly long (much longer than anything that should ever come out of a housecat’s body), poisonously aromatic bit of kitty toxic waste. So undilutedly aromatic that I just about hurled.

Disposed of it as quickly as possible, opened windows, attempted to return to food/DVD, trying not to inhale too deeply until sea air cleared out the stench.

This explains the cats’ ongoing displays of strange, wayward motor activity — their nervous systems have been brutally damaged by repeated exposure to whatever the hell it is that’s coming out of them.

The good news: that was the only moment of trauma in the entire week. Pretty much everything else: obnoxiously wonderful. (No, really.)

[continued in following entry]

España, te echo de menos

Consider this a postcard, sent while this webpage is on vacation:

Low tide, evening — Provincetown, Mass.

Having a most excellent time. Wish you were here.

España, te echo de menos

That mention in the last entry about waking up to the faint odor of skunk? Returned to consciousness yesterday morning to just that, the aroma everywhere in the flat. Smelled it all along the walk into downtown. Smelled it everywhere I went, including my teeny office and the gym. Always faint, and so consistent that it had me sniffing at my clothes, wondering if I’d had an episode of early-morning sleepwalking that included social time with local skunks.

(This is what my existence has come to: me snuffling quietly at my clothing to see if I’m the reason the town stinks.)

Finally mentioned it to someone, they stared at me with eyes suddenly wide, confessing that they’d experienced the same thing all morning long, though they hadn’t realized it seemed to be blanketing the entire downtown area.

There must have been one hellacious encounter during the wee hours. Or an entire clan of skunks crossed a road at the wrong moment. Something.

Meanwhile, rain has been the weather du jour for, er, many jours now. Occasionally soft and gentle, mostly pelting down in not very user-friendly fashion. For some reason, a large percentage of the people I see walking around have no umbrella, wear no rain gear of any kind. They go their way, stoic, shoulders hunched a bit, apparently not paying much attention to the opening of the celestial floodgates. I passed a construction worker this morning (rain coming down as if the weather gods/goddesses were emptying their collective bladders on the rest of us), clothes drenched, drops of water sliding off the point of his noise. I said, “Good morning,” he responded with a cheerful, “Hey, how ya doin’?” Clearly unbowed by weather ugliness. Left me with a smile on my silly face for a long time after.

The rain has been so insistently predominant that this morning’s weather forecast included a bulletin that we were in for two rainless days, tomorrow and Friday. A warning for those who may find sunlight and lack of falling moisture frightening.

I head down to Cambridge, Mass. tomorrow, then continue along to Cape Cod on Friday, where I will not be accountable to what passes as my life for a few days. Updates may or may not happen during that time.

España, te echo de menos

Have been waking up frequently during recent nights, the world outside quiet. Sometimes the faint sour tang of skunk hangs in the air, sometimes moonlight slants in through the window in the flat’s little bitty bathroom. Sometimes my head jerks up off the pillow, my eyes open, the first thing I hear is the apartment’s refrigerator producing major racket. (First time it did that, I thought there must be a utility truck parked outside the building dealing with early-hour emergency work. As it turned out: Utility truck, no. Refrigerator, yes.)

I slept well during June, my bod re-energizing maybe after the long slog of the previous year. Now that batteries have been recharged, I’m feeling the restlessness that is a part of my current state, finding myself somewhere I don’t fully want to be, ready to move on, inflict myself on friends in other parts of the world, see new scenery, scare up new adventures.

Have spent hours every day in my teeny office, pounding away at the keyboard or escaping online. Evenings have mostly been about food, DVD’s, skipping out to a movie. (Made the mistake of wading into the DVD set for In Treatment’s first season, by the time I realized how addictive it is I was too far along to pull out. Some outrageously great acting in supporting roles.) The hours slide by, days and nights flicker past.

Several evenings after returning from Montreal, had nightmares all night long. Woke up from the first ones, slipped back to sleep into more. That continued until I dragged myself out of bed the following a.m. I never have nightmares — the rare occasion when I find one happening, it’s clear that it’s a message from me to me about something that’s provoking lots of feelings. In this case, an affirmation of restlessness, unease. I made a point of turning my thoughts away from them on waking, had no desire to remember anything about them. Just let ‘em go, returned to waking life.

And waking life has some pretty sweet aspects. Summer in beautiful Vermont. A small town with a lot to enjoy. Potential adventures looming ahead. Not to mention the annual July 4th parade, a quirky affair in this town, goofily inclusive of just about every group that wants to take part. Including the secessionist contingent. There’s room for everyone.

Sign to the extreme left reads 200 YEARS IS LONG ENOUGH

Recent moments:
– sitting on a bench in front of the county courthouse, shoveling down a stupendous bowl of curry thrown together by a couple operating a Thai food cart.
– passing a mother pushing a stroller — mother scowling, child’s expression one of continued surprise (if my ‘rents had given me the mohawk haircut he sported, I’d be looking pretty damn surprised too).
-– sitting on the steps in front of the Statehouse in the evening, sun drifting lower in the western sky, breeze causing the state flag clips to clang quietly against the metal flagpole. Sounding like the faint ringing of a buoy’s signal bell, as if the town had somehow drifted east over the countryside, coming to rest near coastal water.

This coming weekend will bring a road trip. Yeeee-haaa!

España, te echo de menos

In and around Montpelier’s July 4th parade:

The 4th of July in a small town in Vermont.

España, te echo de menos

During my last couple of days in Montreal, the city closed off most of Boul. Saint-Laurent, one of the main drags that cuts across the Plateau. Booths and tents appeared in front of stores, restaurants, bakeries (mmmm, bakeries….), cafés, but with the weather turning gray and wet, they mostly remained empty, a street usually alive with traffic and pedestrians looking a little sad and ghostly.

That changed on Friday, as rain stopped and people slowly began creeping out into the open, blinking hopefully up at skies of a lighter, more benign-looking gray. A long, long stretch of the street had been closed to traffic (except at intersections, where one had to watch one’s ass if one wanted to continue on without getting clocked by passing cars). Music got cranking at different spots along the avenue, food and drink appeared, happy humans began eating and drinking.

And I walked, searching for a production that was part of the fringe festival happening then. Walking and walking and walking. Found the show, slipped into my seat just as the lights went down, nearly ran out the door an hour later, beating the other six members of the audience out into the fresh air (all of us practically sprinting toward the exit the moment the lights came up, leaving unspoken editorial comments on the performance drifting in the air in our wake).

Back out on the street, sky still gray but, happily, rainless. Aimed myself up the boulevard, walked as far as traffic had been closed off, well into a Portuguese area, banners indicating a 40th anniversary related to the neighborhood’s ethnicity, that somehow related to the weekend’s street fair.

Turned around at the limit of the street’s closing, wandered back down the avenue, picking up food an drink along the way, then more food and drink (then still more). Enjoying music, people-watching, passing conversations in various languages. And finally stumbled across this gent seated by the curb in a folding chair, wailing out a great blues number, gradually collecting a small crowd. The blues number came to a close, a few people drifted away, then the performer launched into a down-and-dirty version of “Billie Jean,” more people stopping to listen, faces reflecting the realization that they were present at something special. And as the musician began picking up steam, three women done up in identical pink outfits, carrying pink parasols, wandered by, lined up behind the performer. The singer knew a great, slightly surreal moment had taken shape, asked for people to take pix — cameras immediately appeared everywhere, the street suddenly awash in the sound of photos being taken.

At one point during the number he aimed a stage whisper at the women in pink, asking if they knew how to moon-dance. They couldn’t deliver, and it was a genuine shame — this guy deserves a bona fide concert venue, real production values, a larger audience.

Next morning I was up and out at an ungodly hour, across the border, back in Montpelier, where I’ve been ever since. The days slowly unfurl, June gives way to July, I watch it all pass by.

Next up: July 4th hooha. My current squat is close enough to the route of Montpelier’s Indy Day parade that my concern is not getting run down once the event starts up. We’ll see how it goes.

España, te echo de menos

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