Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bare trees

Late this afternoon, a couple of adorable Torts students sat in my office with me and we watched the leaves fall outside. I regard this as a pretty near ideal use of my office: for students to come late in the day and chew the fat – life, death, summer, winter – when else do you have a chance to pretend you have something wise to say about any of these?

It is of course entirely possible that they were humoring me. Still, it was a pleasant moment in a not unpleasant day.

But looking out my office window was also a slap of reality. Those falling leaves signal bare trees which in turn signal the imminent arrival of Wisconsin winter which in turn means cold winds leading to watery eyes that freeze over. And that’s not the only thing that freezes with winter. When we get to, well, right about now, I lose interest in doing anything outdoorsy, especially in the after-work hours.

Good-bye exploring the neighborhood. Good-bye exploring Paoli’s hill, the one with the view, at dusk, even if does offer photo-blogging opportunities (sorry!). Hello exploring the local video store. God, I sound boring.

Rynias, in the Polish Tatra Mountains, December 1971: I’m leaving Poland in a month. I don’t know yet that it is a forever thing. But this night I am with my friends, in a farmhouse, in the Alpine-like valley of Rynias. There’s no doubt about it, the room that we all share at pan Stas and pani Anna’s house is warm. So warm. Quilts pulled tight. Only the need to pee in the outhouse forces you to get out from under the quilts. Warm. Cuddling, snuggling, warm. I’m about to leave you guys, but for now, this winter has not a single icicle touching my spine. Mmmmm, so warm.

And so I head out today to take in my neighborhood’s unique charm. Is it the last time that I do this? The sun is fading, going down, going down. I give myself a five-block radius and I pace the blocks, peering, staring:

Madison Nov 05 002

To the south, the lakes, the tracks. A solitary person, counting steps.

To the north, the commercial side. But of a type. My favorite in the world corner grocery store (the Co-op) which, in true to form Madison co-op style, has a large seasonal mural on the wall. Here’s a snippet of it:

Madison Nov 05 003

And closer in, not five blocks but four, the Electric Earth cafĂ©, open til midnight. What’s it like? Well, at the checkout counter, you can help yourself to one of these:

Madison Nov 05 006

My blocks. A circle of warmth. Today there are still leaves on the trees and pumpkins on doorsteps. Not for long. This is Wisconsin. Bare trees, cold winds. Just around the bend.

night fever

Cos we're living in a world of fools
Breaking us down
when they all should let us be.

I sit down at the keyboard. Click, Welcome Nina. Click again, click, click again, I am there. Only you wouldn’t recognize me. I am wearing different clothes now. Nothing that constrains, nothing that binds. I need to be able to move, to glide and maneuver.

You're the light in my deepest, darkest hour

My savior when I fall

I’m hanging out with a small handful of bloggers. Out there in cyberspace. The regulars are all there. And we play. First, I catch up. Because they have been at it for a while. I’m usually late.

I'm in. I'm throwing around words and phrases that are very un-Ocean-like. We dance. We show off. We do verbal somersaults.

Comments fly with the speed of the Net. Exposed, raw, sometimes brilliant, sometimes completely lacking in wit.

I really meant to learn
Cos we're living in a world of fools
Breaking us down
when they all should let us be.

I am fearless. I listen, I pick up the rhythm. I am engaged.

And then I am spent.

I return here to my familiar neighborhood, to my friends in the sidebar.

You know the door to my very soul
And you may not think I care for you

When you know down inside
That I really do

I snuggle in their safe, familiar territory. Teddy bears, all of them. I know them inside out: their way of writing, their strengths, their frailties.

Ocean is calm, Ocean waits, without judgment, without scorn. I’m ready to pick up where I left off here in its murky waters.

And the moment that you wander far from me

I wanna feel you in my arms again.

I'm back.