Monday, July 30, 2012

This summer is passing like the last lines of Donald Hall's "Summer Kitchen":
We ate, and talked, and went to bed,
And slept. It was a miracle.

This is especially pleasant given how last summer was so hot and sticky and unraveling, all discovering gardens and old star charts, leaving town and sleeping poorly and imagining up disasters, losing cherished friendships because of decisions not made years before. Right now I am doing mostly new things and feeling mostly new feelings, anticipating a few upcoming milestones, enjoying the quiet time before whatever upheaval shows up next.

And so it is times like these that I wish I knew how to paint, because things have turned so vividly colored. Lately everyone wants to talk about the possibility of human tetrachromats, people with eyes made for seeing whole ranges of colors that the rest of us aren't built for. An article I read recently suggested that there are many people with eyes prepared to see this way, but who don't because they've never had the need. In which case they think that these eyes could be trained, that they could gain the ability to see the world in colors they could never describe. It seems like then it would be summer nearly always, feeling an entire universe of colors that you couldn't possibly explain.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I woke up for a minute this morning just after dawn, warm and comfortable, to find all of the lake out of the window stained pink. It was disorienting at first, all these colors I never see and the lake almost empty of boats, the sky streaked with white and the water striped in currents of lighter and darker blue. I would be lying if I said that it was enough to make me understand why people wake up so early, but what it was was beautiful. I fell back asleep and had a pleasant dream about a simple adventure.

We're going to Paris in only slightly more than a month, which makes me so excited I can barely stand it. It's funny how this trip that was hanging precariously not too many weeks ago is now not just planned but becoming increasingly full of friends. And so now it's about time to start fretting over what to read and what to wear while I'm over there.

Monday, July 23, 2012


I have never seen anything move quite like a giraffe. Surely this is at least partly just from not being a tree in Africa--documentaries are pretty fond of showing giraffes serenely walking across the plains, but I'm not sure I've ever been given a tree's eye view.

We spent a little while afterward trying to describe how it is exactly that a giraffe moves, with its body fixed in place so far away and its head suddenly zooming so close. It's an otherworldly sort of movement, almost like they're secretly under water, and I was in no way anticipating something quite so strange. He hovered around for a few minutes, eating all of our leaves suspiciously, walking away to look at us all sideways and to nibble on the bushes across the way. It was almost impossible not to touch him--he looked so soft--but eventually we broke away to let the next group through.

And now I am more sure than ever before that giraffes are totally magic.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cryptozoologically speaking, it seems unfair to tell something that it doesn't exist simply because we haven't yet been able to trick it out into the open. I like to think that the council of cryptids gets together occasionally to discuss strategies on looking blurry in photographs and disappearing just as mysteriously as you have appeared. Perhaps on trapdoor and treehouse construction, shrubbery rustling, faking footprints. Annual meetings to tally which members have been discovered and stuffed. It could be that they're all legend, but then again it could be that they're mostly smarter than we are.

So really, cryptozoologically speaking, the only difference between being real and not being real is documentation. This is perhaps not the worst lesson to keep in mind, for when it becomes prudent to stay more shadow than solid.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

We've talked before about how Treasure Island was lost to Stevenson once his original map went missing, how the story with the new map was always a little bit of an imposter. In the way that we start our stories with laying out their boundaries, how no one else's version is ever quite our own because their outlines are always different.

Recently a documentary told me that although it takes eight minutes for a photon to reach Earth from the sun, more importantly it can take thousands of years for that photon to travel from the core to a place where it can even leave to head in our direction. That little bit of light spends most of its journey getting knocked around by other particles, wandering and wandering through all of that fire until it finally gets propelled out into the dark and cool of space. I was dozing on and off through the documentary, but I wondered about all of those tiny pieces of light and the maps that they carried with them to the center of the sun, a center that almost certainly would look nothing like their maps once they made it here to show us the path. And if in that way our sun could ever really be their sun.

Monday, July 09, 2012


We went to Victoria this weekend, another beautiful place in the string of beautiful places the Northwest is laden with, all sunshine and flowers and seafood. It never stops being remarkable to me that this is where I've ended up, that these are the places I get to go.

Victoria is completely charming in a way that may mostly be true in the warmth and the sunshine, but was the best of all possible places to spend some time sitting in places eating and drinking things, all warm and happy. This is what the summer is for.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

I was reading the other day about Honore Fragonard, the cousin of the Rococo painter. The more interesting of the Fragonards, Honore was expelled from his job at Paris' veterinary school after a few years for being a madman. He had a fondness for flaying specimens, preserving all of their insides, and setting them up in theatrical ways. Eventually he supported himself by making grotesqueries for the aristocracy, dissecting and reassembling creatures at home in the usual way of madmen. (What is actually remarkable is that, given my fondness for Frederik Ruysch and his similarly creepy morality tableaux, I am only now learning about the habits of the Fragonards.)

In any case I feel like the appeal should be obvious, the need to take things apart and put them back together again, to turn all of the mysteries inside out. But in that case it is perhaps not surprising that his cousin, who painted imaginary lives in vivid color, is the one we remember.