Pancake Day


I am back (we went skiing) but still not well.

That’s a picture of the Cal Band, who sometimes appear at ski resorts with old beat-up instruments. They are highly entertaining. The best part, which I didn’t manage to see, is when they come down the bunny slope playing their instruments. I am familiar with their oeuvre because I often hear them practicing on my way home from work.

Anyway, I am really tired. We had guests for dinner last night, which was also highly entertaining, but now I’m exhausted. The topic of conversation was, “how long did it take you to not hate living in B___.” My answer was 30 years. The houseguests, one of whom is from England and one from Nevada, already like it — they’d lived here for about 3 years before moving to London for a year and a half and now back again. My husband was of course ecstatic to be here from the start — the Grateful Dead were playing the night we arrived here. (If you know me, you know that that did not endear the place to me either. On the contrary.) The dinner guest’s husband, who is from Italy, hates it. He was home sick (and homesick, actually), and she said she would not tell him it’s taken me 30 years to be okay with the place. But her mother, who moved here from Minnesota 50 years ago, never really liked it. As they drove up University Avenue she burst into tears. Of course, I burst into tears as we crossed the state line.

In fact, I am sympathetic to poor Mitt Romney’s speech the other day about how he likes the state of Michigan:

Everything seems right here. You know, I come back to Michigan; the trees are the right height. The grass is the right color for this time of year, kind of a brownish-greenish sort of thing. It just feels right.”

This may be the first thing I have ever agreed with Mitt Romney about — I know what he is talking about!

Anyway, I’m not sure why I’m slowly reconciling myself to the place. Probably because I am leaving it more to travel back to other places, which makes me feel less trapped. Also, I am getting out to see more of it, too. It really is a great place to hike — I cannot deny that. And also, I think I have finally lived here long enough to feel like I have friends here. I am not one of those quick-to-make-friends people. And that of course makes a huge difference.

Also, I am still reading Riddley Walker and I can hardly put it down. It reminds me of Marilynne Robinson’s Home. In Home you were trapped in the mind of a preacher, viewing the world through 500 years of Protestant theology. The reader had to understand the man’s life through that viewpoint, which was not easy given that some of us, at least, are not Protestant theologians. But it was worth it — it was borrowing the character’s view of the world to understand his circumstances and what they meant to him. In Riddley Walker we are viewing a dark and strange post-apocalyptic world through the strange and garbled thought and language of a 12 year old who is himself trying to figure out a fable called the Eusa Story and how it explains what has happened to the world and how the world can be repaired. It’s quite amazing, actually. In both these books, though, you feel that the author had to understand this system of thought completely before he or she could write, or even imagine, the book. If you are a fan of a book where you need to puzzle out what is going on, and I am, I recommend both of these books.

In any case — I am going home now. It’s just the idea of the 25 minute walk that leaves me sitting here instead of setting out —


8 thoughts on “Pancake Day

  1. I do understand that feeling of home, of the landscape arranging itself a certain way. I never really got used to SF — it always seemed either too laissez-faire or too cold and grey, with all the buildings smack dab against the sidewalk, turning their metaphorical backs on passers-by. Also, coming from Boston, I found their notion of “Society” hilarious. Dowagers in their terrible gowns, and men in Wilkes-Bashford. Someone always asking me, “Don’t you know who I AM?!” and me shrugging and saying no.

    • It has a very peculiar aesthetic, doesn’t it? I think you’ve described it well, both the buildings and the people. It can be beautiful, in the fog, or from certain places where you see the ocean, but there are vast stretches of ugly buildings on streets with no trees.

  2. When I was in southern Missouri in October, my son said something about how warm it was, and I said yes, now you know why I’m always disappointed in how cold Ohio is. This is how I think it should be right now.
    I might have to find Riddley Walker.
    You were pretty quick to make friends with me 🙂 But I know what you mean, as I am that way, too, in general.

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