Sometimes Nothing Says It Like 140 Characters.

February 8, 2010 at 8:12 am (By Amba) (, , , )


Nobody knows anymore what an unimproved 60+-year-old looks like. “Everybody” dyes their hair, does a little Botox, a snip–and no wonder!

Given a choice, who w/a smidgen of vanity would stay the course? Last week I got mistaken for my 86-yr-old mom’s sister & 53-yr-old bro’s ma

You can look salt&pepa distinguished in 50s, in 60s you just look old–if yr Caucasian & fried the bejesus out of yrself in the sun as a kid

It could be worse–it’s only genetic luck that nobody in my family’s dead of melanoma. In the 1950s & ’60s we fried ourselves yearly in FL

Remember Sea&Ski? Little coconut-oil droplets acted as lenses actually magnifying UV rays. My nose peeled so much I shouldn’t have a nose.

We were such savages–we fried ourselves ritually in the sun. & we killed anything that moved. Buckets of live shells, fat stringers of fish

There were like 1/3 as many people in the world. Nature still had the upper hand & nature seemed inexhaustible. If you shelled & fished (c)

(c) like that today, you’d be in jail. *sigh* It’s worth being old to have memories of those days.

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Preferring Seasons to Reasons

September 5, 2009 at 10:57 pm (By Amba) (, , , , , , )

I’m filled with remorse now for uttering on Twitter the blasphemy that I was bored with the seasons — always the same ones, in predictable order, year after year after year.  “Couldn’t the planet tilt another way for a change?” I tweeted.  In the movie, presto!  Midas gets his wish, we all go flying into space, or icecaps clang down on Ecuador, or the weather just goes bonkers — hell, we already have cause to be nostalgic for predictability (insofar as the weather ever was predictable; nostalgia lies).

Maybe I was really just lamenting how fast the seasons revolve by now (like the sun and moon in the classic George Pal/Rod Taylor movie of H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine, which we watched on TCM last night), or protesting my own sensory remove from them, indoors most of the time and bent over J or the computer.  Because no sooner had I said that stupid thing than I got all excited because for the first time all summer, cold water came out of the cold water tap. Then I had the first really crisp apple in six months.  I fell for our planet’s temperate trick all over again.

When I was in high school we did a “voice-speaking choir” performance of Stephen Vincent Benet’s John Brown’s Body. Someone had cut that wonderful book-length poem (you can get a good old copy for pennies) about the Civil War down to a spoken and sung chamber piece (there used to be a recording of it).  I still remember a lot of it, including this:

Autumn is filling his harvest bins with red and yellow grain,

The fire begins and the frost begins

and the floors are cold again.

The floors are cold again.

When you’re a child, the seasons are a huge sensory drama, so much bigger than you — like the acts of a really grand opera.  The revolving transformation of the scenery alone makes you gasp with awe.  And it’s total immersion, not just visual:  the smoke smell and fire color of leaves, the sugary burn of snow.  Seasons make synaesthetes out of everyone; each one is an inextricable complex of color, texture, sound, and smell — you can taste cold, smell color, be smothered in humidity’s sweaty-breasted embrace.  And each season is topped by a holiday, the cherry on the sundae, that concentrates it to its conscious essence:  if fall is an apple, Hallowe’en is apple brandy.  I adored holidays for the way each one summed its season up and made it consumable, a communion.

Habit, responsibility, introspection, and “development” — the razing of woods and selling of fields to build malls and suburbs — are all great estrangers from the senses.  All four may have something to do with the way time has speeded up as we’ve gotten older.  (I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be a kid now — what marks the seasons?  Corporate fruitings like the release of the new American Girl or Wii?  You don’t even wait for the floors to be cold again to go back to school.  You go back in brusque violation of the laziest, sleepiest, most mindless days of summer.  That’s symptomatic of some way the human world has spurned nature.)

The senses are roots:  they tether you to the earth and keep you turning in time with it, inexorable but unhurried.  La vida es corta, pero ancha. Life is short, but it’s wide.

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