These peaceful fishies swim around in the pond outside the dining hall at St John's College, adding to the general air of tranquillity. I'd not planned to be back teaching Bread Loaf there this summer, but circumstances prevailed - i.e. a course that needed taking over at the last minute - and I'm so very happy, as it turns out, to be back in the classroom with 16 keen high school (mostly) English teachers. The only true challenge is that the course is British Poetry - Old English to the present day. I can do the present day, all right - and, indeed, the C19th and C20th - but before that?? Indeed, teaching poetry feels like something that I have the same claims to be able to do as choreography, or Fair Isle Knitting. But I console myself with thinking that even if I can never remember what - say - an anapest is, I can probably close read and think on my feet (those are figurative feet, not metrical ones). It's a provocation, all the same, to my usual habits of "always historicize." Yet if the course had been, say, the Victorian novel, I don't think that I'd have the same (ok, perverse, but true) sense of this being a kind of mental vacation, changing territory, pushing me somewhere that I'd not anticipated going.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Fathers' Day - or is it Father's Day - is that rare thing - a secular commemoration shared by the US and Britain alike (or, that rare thing, a commercial opportunity shared by them both. What does Dad want this year? A cold beer! A steak! A hug! You give the last of these - we'll provide the other two! Etc.). Here's my father, long before I knew him - I guess he would have been about twenty one, and in his uniform as a member of the Fleet Air Arm. I think this would have been his mother's copy of the picture - I have it in its silver plated form, and I can't even remember how I came by it.
Whereas Mother's Day is overlain with sentimentality - much of it genuine - Father's Day is a much more edgy thing, since opportunities for people to reflect on their relationships with their paternal unit seem to be far less commonplace in popular culture, and such reflections are, in any case, complex ones. I'm not offering up my own version here - except in so far as every time I look at this picture, I think how young he looks, and how lucky I am that he survived WW2, and how much he stands for so many young men who didn't make it through then, and who don't make it through now. Which is, of course, sentimentality of a kind, couched in a version of the counter-factual.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
I always have a sense of summer beginning with our first trip to the Farmers' Market in Santa Fe ... here, the marigold-threading woman has just started with her first strands. So dinner was a French Hen, stuffed with garlic scopes and lemon (ok, this not being Los Angeles, the second of those came from Whole Foods), and baked over diced potatoes and rosemary, and served with some mixed salad greens and some miniature carrots - red and orange and yellow - boiled just long enough not to be raw. And prefaced by some goats' cheese. With that inside me - eaten sitting out on our patio, with the wind kicking up around us, and looking at the far distant hills in the sunset - I can just about bear to contemplate the fact that I have to write a summer school syllabus. But that, too, is something that I've done so many times here that it, too, seems like a rite of the season.
Friday, June 14, 2013
I don't know that I can expect everyone to get as excited about rain as I did today, but given how parched New Mexico is, and how easily dust storms have been blowing up from nowhere (not to mention the fires), the excitement was certainly being happily shared when I went out to mail a couple of letters and buy some cat food. I don't know whether we can exactly think about these storms as a harbinger of the monsoon season - but it was wonderful to see the dark clouds and the rain coming down.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
It's not just that one can be surprised when going into a familiar room at La Posada: the grounds are rearranged as well. At least, I'm fairly sure that this metal burro and this pale blue bench weren't in this particular spot before. Yes, there are element of kitsch to it, in places - but it's very high-class kitsch: the kind that hovers between good taste and its excess. Staying here, as we travel between Los Angeles and Santa Fe, has become such a happy ritual. And it's not only great to be back, tonight, but we've been greeted by a small amount of rain - nothing short of miraculous in this parched desert, with skies smoke-heavy over the Sangre de Cristos as we drove in to town.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Back in Winslow; back at La Posada; back in our favorite room - all the rooms here are named after people who've stayed at the hotel at one time or another. And, because it's large, and leads onto the terrace (easy for cat transportation), for a long time we've favored the Ed Ruscha room. Indeed, I stayed here three weeks ago. So - imagine my surprise when we, plus four felines, turn up today, and the room is now not only named after Ed R, but has 5 posters of works by him - it's been thematised! Somewhat more interestingly, I must say, than is the case with the majority of US hotel rooms ...