“That Was Nice … “

Never been able to get used to the way it used to be, before the holiday. Never. But this time it’s taking longer, it seems. OK, he knows: it is the way it was, the way it’s meant to be … but telling himself that – time after ridiculous time – does not help.

And, – it happens every time – post-holiday comedown blues. Its not that he doesn’t like the familiarity of home. But after the turnover, turn-around merry go round (and it has been merry, by the gods it has!) of the sixteen hundred something miles he’s just done. In new lands. New England.

No lifts, no lobbies, no wake up calls. No need for new maps and recces and discussions and the making of plans to use the short bursts of magic-time effectively. The wonderful coffee-fuelled times, times so short yet so filled with intensities: dashes to art galleries (Audubon’s birds), the Boston Liberty Trail, P-Town,  Schooner Head Point, Paul Revere’s house, new details of the past uncovered, new sights glimpsed, photographed – on camera and with the mind, lighthouses, cherubs with railway spikes reclining on veiled train engines …

The tumbling, cavorting impressions of travel.

The links with memories. Associations with stories. With facts and songs, personal history.

Redcoats in the village and there’s fighting in the streets
The Indians and the mountain men are talking when they meet
The king has said he’s gonna put a tax on tea
And that’s the reason young Americans drink coffee

Shores and maple syrup and flames reflected so beautifully in canalised city rivers. Stories of revolution, of tea tipped into harbours, native peoples making fist sized feeding bowls, leaders that made the world what it is and vast houses called cottages that have platinum wallpaper because silver tarnishes and that was not acceptable.

Massive out-of-imagination locomotives with huge cow catchers and associated rolling stock that took his mind off the constant autumn rain – and forty five minutes had gone without him noticing.  Gaelic music and breakfasts that stretch the eyes and the belly.

Dollars, tips and trips. A government shutdown that nobody could explain, and fewer people  prepared to do something about; that closes national treasures but he walks the paths anyway while the rangers and wardens pretend not to see.

The enchanting coast where waves roll across the world and across time. The cloud ceilinged race to find whales. Sadly fated to end in refunded return. The enchanted, guaranteed access by right coast that carried the weight of money from century to century, folly to folly.

Big cities, big buildings, big characters. Big smiles, big slopes that tumble down gentle mountains  through friendly swirls of gently moving clouds  and spreads of autumn colour as dying-for-the-winter leaves bid farewell like slow motion fireworks. Beautifully reflected in waters, still, falling or running between beaver lodge and dam.

Big wide traffic free roads, seven states, stars, stripes, accents and long drawn-out friendly pauses … curiosity, stimulus, satisfaction and more boats than he could shake a good sized stick at. Boats due to be coming out of the water soon for the rough-weather season. But working boats too and magical reminders of the days of sail, exploration and dreams of better; settlements where pilgrims came for freedom of religion that meant they would be free to worship in one way only .. settlements of the aboriginal people plagued by new diseases.

That slow time and sparkle deep into the soul with healing grace. Settlement of the soul; recharging of the spirit. Until …

That phrase from the children’s book, The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark*, must always be on the lips of true travellers I guess:

“That was nice,” said Plop, “what’s next?”

*by Jill Tomlinson


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