I have been off in the western mountains for the last week, doing a fair impersonation of frolicking in the wilderness. I have climbed mountains and swam in a mountain lake, hiked trails and gone to a rodeo. (Well. You know. When in Rome.)
I bought a cowboy hat.
I’ve been getting in touch with my western roots, which actually makes a fair amount of sense when I think about the fact that my entire family is from west of the Mississippi River. I am very definitely an East Coast person; I grew up in Maryland, then moved to Virginia, then New York. I like my humidity and small mountains, my crowds and people who say what they mean, even when they’re saying it mean.
But big skies and mountain lakes are compelling. Joseph is an artist’s town; a place where it’s cheap enough to live that you can make a living doing art. It’s remote enough to be surrounded by beauty and wilderness. It makes me want to spin and knit and write novels. It’s an absolute inspiration, a refocusing on the things that I want to accomplish before I die.
In other words, an absolutely excellent vacation. I’m ready to do it again…and why, yes, I *am* free on Tuesday.
I’ve come to realize that I really, really like colonial style. Big red wallpaper with big red stripes, pineapples everywhere, houses made of stone. The whole country estate, pastoral ideal, yeoman farmer thing.
But, y’know, without the oppression and slavery that seems to come with it.
We spent the weekend at a lovely B&B in Stockton, NJ, which is right next to the Delaware River (as in, “Washington crossing the”). We haven’t had much time to ourselves, just the two of us, and His birthday is coming up next week, so we thought we’d get away. It was just lovely. We stayed in a converted colonial farmhouse. It had sheep. And pineapples. And bizarrely shaped canopy beds with netting over it that we spent a good amount of time trying to reverse engineer.
Maybe the colonial thing is just an extension of my obsession with fiber arts.
We also rented bicycles and acquired ourselves a picnic lunch and spent much of Saturday just pedaling and trying to pick the perfect place to splash down to the water to eat our sandwiches. I haven’t been very hungry since the weather became hot, so I’m afraid I didn’t do my sandwich much justice at all, but I had a grand time eating it and splashing my feet in the river from on top of a log. Sitting on logs makes me really happy.
Exhausted from our cycling, we took a nap and then woke up to go into town, where there was a music festival going on at one of the local restaurants. (All the restaurants were amazingly good — and expensive — which goes to show that their economy is tourism.) We had one of the best meals of our lives, while watching two youngins in skimpy bathing suits make out (and then some) on the one corner in the center of town. I mean, where else would you?
We took a walk out onto one of the many bridges spanning the Delaware and watched the moon over the river. It would have been perfect, if someone hadn’t disappeared in the river earlier, so our romantic talk was punctuated with sirens and an airboat, which is the loudest thing you can imagine on a river that still. Not much for ambiance, but the moon was still nice. There’s just something about a full moon on a river. It reminds me very much of where I grew up, which is just a happy thing.
By Sunday, it was definitely time to get back to the home front and check on the cat, who has been recovering from an illness. We stopped at Washington’s Crossing and oohed and ahhed at the “Washington crossed the Delaware near here” signs and took lots of pictures of the river and the geese of the river. It was a beautiful weekend away, filled with many naps and quality time and nature and pretty memories.
But you’re not getting me on that river one on of those colonial boats. That current’s swift.
This weekend was very busy, since I was entertaining a friend that was visiting from out of town. The highlight was seeing Patton Oswalt who is an absolutely brilliant comedian from Sterling, Virginia (Virginia pride, whoo!). You probably wouldn’t like him if crude language offends you, but he has some very smart things to say. It was cool to see him live.
Less cool was the opening comedian, who referred to all the women in his jokes as bitches, which was particularly depressing since most of the audience responded well to it. Apparently jokes about how completely stupid and useless women are are still in. I’m prefer smart comedy, not just meanness, so he was kind of a boring boor. But a boor with a very happy audience, which made me want to hide my head in the sand for the rest of my life. It made me drink far too much Shiraz, too.
Fortunately, we went to see Stomp before my hangover, which was pretty cool. The idea behind it is that you can make rhythm from the most ordinary objects. Once you have enough people involved, this becomes really cool. Rhythm is such an essential part of being alive and is absolutely everywhere when you stop to listen for it – in language, in the sounds of our vehicles, in the waves of the ocean. Being able to hear and respond to rhythm is so intrinsic to what makes us such amazing creatures — when we can manage to treat each other with respect, that is.
Jamaica is one heavenly place. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen somewhere so incredibly beautiful.
We had a good time. However, we were not blind to what the effects of our economy are on Jamaica – the hotel that we stayed at was very empty. The streets in Montego Bay were also empty, outside of the morning and evening rush hours. The beach we frequented had plenty of space to choose from, despite being a pretty small public beach.
The aluminum and bauxite trades, the news told us, have nearly come to a standstill, because it is so dependent on American purchasers and my country is just not buying. We saw lots of construction that looked like it had been abandoned, hotels half built, the support beams rusting in the sun. The Jamaican diaspora is a severe cultural problem in the best of economies – now it appears that we’ve entered an economy that might possibly be the worst.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I would dearly love to see a world where resources were fairly distributed, where the entire world doesn’t fall just because our economy takes a downturn. What would the world look like if colonization and imperialism hadn’t been such a dominant force for the last 300 years? Would we all eat more and play more? And how do we get there from where we are?
My Big Irishman and myself are off to Jamaica for a long weekend. I admit that my brain is already there, waiting for my body to catch up. The weather has been fairly warm, by New York mid-winter standards, but I’ve still had to wear a coat. My feet are aching for warm air and sandals.
My Big Irishman bought us snorkeling gear as an anniversary present. It’s perfect. Absolutely perfect. (And answering, “what size mens shoe do you wear?” was pretty high on the entertainment scale.)
In preparation, I’ve been reading everything I can about Jamaica, which will no doubt go to waste, since we’ll be close to the beach and the waters. And I have some snorkeling to do. And lizard impersonation.