Monday, January 02, 2012

eight Oceans ago

What’you doin’? I ask Ed. It’s 1:30 at night and I’m surprised to wake up to light coming from a room lamp. (Typically, if he is awake, he’ll read from his computer in darkness.)

Asking does produce an answer, but not one I can readily grasp.
I’m programming a micro processor and building circuits on a breadboard and using the microprocessor to control the circuits. And you?

Guess I’ll work on a post. My talents, if they are that, are so much more humble. Last I read, there were some 156 million blogs out there. You could build a road to Mars from words strung from my blog alone (I just made that up, but it seems probable). If you add photos, we could probably step our way all the way to Jupiter.

It wasn’t always such a popular “sport.” When Ocean was born – eight years ago today! – blogging was thought to be quaintly original. And weird. These days, on the other hand, it’s almost as if the bulk of a blogging public has tried it and moved on. Writing and especially writing daily takes stamina.

So Ed is traveling with a tiny little board and a whole bunch of wires cushioned in his clean underwear. Me, I need my laptop and my camera (padded in clothing too) and a plug adapter and I'm good to go.

To go... And just exactly where did we go today? Well, it turns out that most every sight is closed for the holiday. The books don’t tell you this, so I was surprised, but not entirely disappointed. We’ll do sights on Monday. On Sunday, we walk.

First the fortification: toasted croissants at the corner restaurant. Spanish people don’t do big breakfasts, so if you ask for something like eggs, you’ll get a shake of the head and possibly an eye roll. These foreigners... do they think it’s good to go from dinner at midnight to a breakfast of protein nine hours later? Coffee and a nibble. A Mediterranean idea of a morning meal.

And now the walk. We poke around the courtyard of the Alcazar (the old fort and palace)...


...but then leave the old center of Seville and pick up a path along the Guadalquivir River. It’s strange to think that Columbus brought his ship this far inland. Seville is Columbus territory. When he died, his bones were jostled around from Spain to Hispaniola to Cuba and then to Spain again. Most hold on to the idea that he is now buried in the Cathedral in Seville, just two short blocks from our hotel (A few holdouts claim that it’s not him at all, but rather his son, Diego, but that’s not the point – the point is that Seville could at one time lay claim to his remains, because it was, in the end, this city from which he sailed the ocean blue. Not my little Ocean, but the big Atlantic Ocean.)


It’s a lovely walk on this cool but sunny day in Seville.

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True, there are those who still haven’t capitulated to the new day in the new year. Celebrating, for them, continues even past the noon hour.


But mostly, people are refreshed and quite sober and it just warms the heart to see them enjoying each other’s company on this New Year’s Day.

We break for lunch, or rather my lunch. At home, I hardly eat anything in mid-afternoon and Ed eats mountains then. Here, we’ve oddly flipped.

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A salad with cheese. Predictably delicious.


But what I’ll especially remember from this first real meal of the year is the way the sun moved across the space of the ally, so that initially it was on the cool side...


...but then, quite suddenly, I was in the sun and the world around me seemed like such a good and happy place. (I finished my macchiato before the disappointment of its movement out of our range.)

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We rest a little and then I urge us out again. That sun stays visible here until about five. Let’s not waste the hours of its Sunday brilliance. The park, let’s head for the park. With the gazebos, pavillions, a Baroque palace, fountains...


No longtime Ocean reader will be surprised by this. I love city parks and especially on a Sunday, when most anyone and their lover, friend or child hustles toward green communal spaces for the sheer pleasure of being outdoors in the company of others.


Seville’s park is glorious and the late afternoon sun – magical.

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We walk the length of the park, me noting the children, of course, always dressed as if this was the most important outing of their young lives. And maybe it is. Chasing and feed birds. Does it get better than this?

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Paddled carts and all sorts of moving things are there if you want a somewhat faster pace and as Ed looks around, he mumbles – why is it that everyone is having so much fun out here...


The colors are deep and golden now. It’s a lush park, in a city that experiences winter snow only once every half a century.


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There are quiet corners too. Contemplative spaces.

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But what I see is that mostly, it is a place for play. With good spirit.


Out now on the streets again and here, too, we encounter a chunk of humanity. Strollers without a goal. They lack that hurried gate. They pause and sip coffee and wine, and nibble cakes, and  buy sacks of roasted chestnuts. And here, too, are the tourists -- cameras around necks, hands in pockets or holding maps -- we're there too, it is our Sunday as well after all.


A good way to ease into the New Year.

Evening. Yesterday, Ed and I had passed an open door where a person was handing out leaflets on Flamenco music and dancing at the cultural center located there, in a courtyard of an old building in the Jewish Quarter. The young artists are from Seville and they’ve picked up some awards for their performances. We bought tickets for this first evening of the New Year.

We arrive just in time for the show, which means that we take the very last seats of a packed courtyard. No matter. I’d say most of the seating here is suboptimal anyway. Rickety folding chairs that slope down so that you have to work your muscles to stay put. As we are in the third (and last) row, we can stand. I do, for the entire one hour performance.


You could only take photos in the last two minutes of the show but from where I am and in the darkness of the space, I cannot produce anything of worth. And even a good photo would not give a good story here because, in fact, the performance is so riveting, so dramatic and perfect that it leaves me nearly tearful. Ed would say that bad movies make me tearful as well so perhaps this isn’t a sign of much, but let me tell you, I rarely leave a live concert choked up.

We walk back to our neighborhood. Our set of blocks. Funny how quickly you identify something as more home than not home. I had made a reservation for a good meal across the river for this day, but we decided earlier to cancel it. A local place is offering a special: gazpacho, paella and sangria for 13 Euros. It’s a homey place with a crew of fast paced waitresses and waters. A place where families gather and friends linger.


And the food is exactly right: not complicated, but perfect in every way.

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To the next year then. To Ocean years, to years of moving across the ocean, back and forth, remembering that I should never get too comfortable in life, or at home at the farmhouse, or at least never so comfortable so as to consider movement to be an imposition. Life moves this way and that. And so do I. And so does Ocean.