Wednesday, April 06, 2005

I just made some major scheduling decisions for the next half year or so and now I am fully convinced that I do not know what I am doing

Brandon, I feel for ya. Who knows how blogging is supposed to fit into this life of ours. Sure, if I could stand the quick, dirty, unpremeditated, then I'd be able to just slash and burn any old post and let it fly. But I can’t. I think about it. I imagine places and schedules I have to accommodate and I worry about writing – how will it fit? When will I get to it?Smug types have looked at me with (contemptuous) pity: it doesn’t matter, they say. Skip a day, skip a week, write trash – who the hell cares?

I care.

So, my next six months are supposed to allow for everything – time for work, time with my distantly located family, with friends, time for trips across the ocean which I seem to need more frequently and more desperately than in the past, all of it. Leaving no one satisfied, of that I am certain.

Nothing today. Nothing yesterday. Tomorrow -- maybe tomorrow.

Such beautiful photographic ideas being presented by photobloggers, yet I remain uninspired. In Madison, I can hardly take my camera out anymore. I mark the progression of spring by noting flowers that pop up, that’s it.

This week-end: I’ll go elsewhere, I’ll shoot shoot shoot, taking in garbage cans if I have to.

Even if I am forced to push the old van out of the garage to make it go, I’m taking it for a spin outside this town. [The van is spoiled. IT likes being within the territorial boundaries of the city.]

In the meantime, imagine. Imagine that you are not tired of daffodils and crocuses (that’s all I am seeing thus far). Imagine that they form partnerships and communities of happy, robust life. Here, take a look, from this morning:
a little like a mommy with her little one, no? Posted by Hello
crowded, pushing to be heard and seen Posted by Hello

A convergence of blog posts and emails set me thinking about roads

Scott writes a touching post on why his blog, Home Sweet Road, may remain at Home Sweet Home next year as he and his wife adjust their road trip plans. And at Matching Tracksuits, Gary writes about the challenging conditions in Poland at the moment: the corruption, the sagging infrastructure, the inadequate highway system. Meanwhile, my sister emails from Warsaw, describing a grief-stricken nation, feverishly holding on to the hope that the Pope’s written statement (to be read today) reveals a desire to have some part of him returned to Poland (she writes that this would mean so little to the rest of the world and so very much to Poles).

And then she writes, in answer to a question of mine, that the train that passes just a few miles from the Polish village where I lived for a number of years and many summers with my grandparents, is still chuggin’ along, even though the old East Warsaw train station from where it departs is now a shopping mall. But why not drive there? Why take the train?

Because the trip by road is, for the most part, not an easy one.

Roads traveled, roads not followed. Trains and roads, or rather no roads.

It struck me that people here probably don’t know this about Poland: there are very few roads in the countryside. Oh, there are roads alright – dirt roads, with ruts made worse each spring by rain, sandy, muddy roads, uneven, ungraveled, more suitable for the furmanki (horse-pulled wagons that still move people and merchandise from one place to another) than for small cars. Roads – such a basic thing.

The reliable trains pull through pastoral scenes of farmsteads and small towns just miles outside Warsaw. The few roads (and almost no highways at all) are crowded, so crowded as to lose their appeal, so that the images held by Scott – of empty roads beckoning, make no sense in Poland.

The road trip: it’s an American concept through and through, belonging to a vast land where you can travel for 365 days within just one state and never repeat a road.

In Poland, roads don’t beckon.

But places do: the forgotten outposts, off the beaten path because there is no beaten path, the villages where dogs bark at you, unused to strangers, unused to traffic of any sort. It’s quite a stretch of land, linking these places with Rome, with the Vatican. Tomorrow, I expect most villages will be linked with Rome not by roads but in other ways, as schools and businesses close so that people may follow the procession in the Vatican.

You really don’t need roads to go places.