Cornwall Cogitation#2, 21.2.2016–Put on your walking shoes and rain jacket and step out into the windy noon. Mind that sensation in your soles. They’re saying, “Mmm, Mmm, what a lovely tactile feeling of feet on the ground, a bracing pace, a proper rhythm, mindfulness, thanks for putting us to work, we’re off with alacrity.” Something like that. You head uphill toward the main street, stretching your limbs, inhaling saltiness, smiling.
It’s Saturday and you’re on your way to Birdies Bistro on the Hayle estuary on the far side of Lelant. Lunch at Birdies always pleases, so I don’t hesitate to order a Classic Kedgeree (haddock with apricot and coriander spiced basamatic rice topped with a poached egg). Only later do I find out that the dish has an Anglo-India connection, likely brought back from India by returning British colonials. It’s perfect; supper will be left-over leek and potato soup and old English cheddar cheese.
By adding a longer yet quieter way home along Church Lane, it’ll be a seven-mile walk today, stopping at the Costcutter for a newspaper. When the coast path dries out that will be our most captivating way home. But today roadways and sidewalks (pavements) will do. You come, you see, you’re captivated, you conquer.
In October we had the privilege of spending a few days with Stanley and Marlene Kropf in the new home they built in Port Townsend, Washington State. At breakfast Marlene read from Simon Arbitrage’s, Walking Home: A Poet’s Journey, in which he describes the ferocious wind: “It should be torture, but it’s exhilarating, ecstatic, a frenzied invitation or hysterical reacquaintance with the great outdoors. And I think, this is why I came, to stumble into the unexpected, to feel the world in its raw state.”
Winds have been big news in many places this week. We’ve escaped the strongest gales but read about the fierce blasts in the Windy City. While nature’s force of raw state does fit Chicago, located on the level between the Great Plains and the Great Lakes, there’s a double meaning in the moniker. In the mid-1800s the city got it’s nickname from politicians who became famous for being long-winded, talkative, boastful. Someone said they were boasting that they had no need to boast.
There were some people in Scripture who were boastful. Come, let us build us a tower, they said. So that’s what they set out to do, build the Tower of Babel. Interestingly, I found a reference to the Tower in the Checker-Board Guide, World’s Fair Edition, a guide to the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. I’ve had a copy for more than 40 years and just recently donated it to Ruthmere in Elkhart. Here’s the entry for TOWER OF BABEL: “Height, 400 feet; diameter at base, 100 feet. The ascent of the tower is made by a double track, circular electric railway, by elevators, and by a broad walk. At the top a chime of bells is installed, and meteorological experiments are conducted.” Well, blow me down, of all the things I didn’t know for 40 years.
And this from Brazilian writer/farmer Radnan Nassar, translated by Stefan Tabler, concerning “an egotistical male whose mouth runs away from him into bombast and ravings. . . .” I’m not applying that charge to anyone but myself as a reminder that I want to strive for understatement, accuracy, kindness, wonder, listening, praise in what I say and do.
Finally, of all the interesting tid bits I came across this week, just a comment on “boring.” I found the reference to “boring” in two news reports. I quote just one, from The Guardian: The writer, presumably Dr Dillner, but not clearly bylined, said, “Boredom is often defined as a state of dissatisfaction with the dullness of a situation-usually with a bit of restlessness and fatigue.” Dillner quotes Dr Sandi Mann who said we should embrace boredom “to enhance our creativity.” Dillner concludes, “I am for boredom in small doses. I worry that mobile phones mean my children don’t daydream at all. Being bored as a child used to mean using your own resources to amuse yourself. Now it means plugging yourself into a n iPad. Being bored is a useful reminder that we want to do something meaningful. So, hopefully, this article will have bored the pants off you.”
With that, dear friends, go conquer a new week! -John