Thursday, October 31, 2013

Re-provisioning and re-connecting

DSC01094 (975x1300)Once each year, Mountain Men would come down from the  wilderness to meet in a Rendezvous, where they could sell furs, swap advice, and replenish supplies ahead of the winter.  There was also much cooking, dancing, singing, and telling of tall tales…

Modern Europe wouldn’t be mistaken for forested wilderness, but independent expatriates channel some aspects of their lives from Free Trappers of the 1800’s.  We find our home away from home, explore unmapped areas and make peace with unfamiliar cultures.  We live in temporary camps; our food supplies duplicate local diets.

And periodically I need to get back to the US to replace the food, medicines, housewares, clothes, and electronics that are unobtainable in Europe.  I bring gifts from abroad and DSC01084 (1300x950)carry shopping lists from fellow expatriates.  I meet with friends for evenings of drinking and tall tales.

The Pacific Northwest is having a late autumn, leaves glowing red and yellow against a low, stormy sky.  I’ve seen the doctor and dentist for annual check-ups (‘doing fine, thanks!), bought some jeans and dress clothes, got a familiar haircut.  I voted.  We made a risotto feast; we went out for big “slab ‘o beef” dinners. I made “Caramelized onions and chicken thighs” from the Jerusalem Cookbook.   The 2012 taxes are finally finished, problems with the home internet have been sorted. and the yard is cleaned up.

DSC01090 (1300x1292)The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us…. (describing his travels through time,) As I put on pace, night followed day like the flapping of a black wing. I could adjust my speed, leaping ahead days or months, then slowing to sample the changes that had taken place before leaping ahead again, months or years. Thus was the future revealed in glimpses…

There are unexpected changes every time I return.  Sometimes they are physical: traditional buildings falling, road layouts changing, new architectures rising.  Often they are social: children advancing, relationships changing, sometimes friends departing.  This visit it seems like more people are having a hard time of things, defending what they have and apprehensive about the future.  DSC01085 (1300x963)Immediate family and friends are doing well, but everyone knows someone living on the edge.

I feel connected with people’s lives across time, yet disconnected for only sampling them across otherwise silent intervals.  I value the time with family and friends catching up and making plans, but regret that it is only a glimpse that reconstructs a narrative, only a glimmer of the underlying motivations.

DSC01081 (1300x977)And soon, it will be Sunday, and back to the airplane for another solitary quest into the forest, another leap across the months.

One cannot choose but wonder: Will he ever return?  I, for my own part, believe he went forward, into one of the nearer
ages, with the riddles of our own time answered and its wearisome problems solved…

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