i went to the santa fe farmer’s market this morning.  it’s a lovely market. there was an abundant selection of local produce. it was high quality, organic or pesticide free and devotedly seasonal (read: nary a tomato, watermelon or avocado in sight… yet).

may i remind you, this is the desert. a desert experiencing a severe drought. and they still manage to grow food sustainably and sell it accessibly (via cost and venue).  our piedmont, north carolina culture has a long way to go appreciate the value of this endeavor.

since i’m in a dorm and have a meal plan, i did not buy any beets or rhubarb or carrots, though they looked amazing.

instead, i bought art from a man named Micahael Andryc.

he does not have a website. i found one image of one of his paintings on the santa fe farmer’s market page. we talked for a quite a while and i don’t think he would mind at all if i shared it with you.

i bought a print of his painting, “The Weird Thanksgiving”

in the painting: Lady of Guadalupe, Sitting Bull, Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, The Devil, John Lennon (and his invisible album on Apple Core Records), Picasso’s Dog, and Georgia O’Keeffe.  this painting carries much meaning for me after being here in New Mexico.

i can’t find an image of the favorite print that i bought which is called “My Grandmother and Bob Dylan Singing a Duet”.  it depicts his polish grandmother singing alongside a young, sunglassed Bob Dylan, surrounded by some lyrics from “With God On Our Side”

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.

i’ve never considered myself patriotic, but i’ve often said the 4th of july is my favorite holiday simply because of the genre of recreation that accompanies it (being outside, camping, summertime, eating, live music, fireworks).  i always get teary eyed when they ask the veterans to stand at the charlotte symphony’s concert. i appreciate their sacrifice and service. i am thankful for the freedoms bestowed upon me because of the latitude and longitude of my existence on planet earth.  the tears come from the fact i hate war. i hate humans killing other humans.  i cry for the oppression and destruction brought to humans on both end of the gun, grenade, missile or chemical.

quite frankly, i’m mad that my fellow americans have done some very destructive, evil things in the name of “our” country and “our” God. we usually realize, regret and remorse well after the events.  immersing myself in the history and culture of this part of the country brings to me a new level of sorrow for our destructive, oppressive, hateful, selfish colonizing of  native american and spanish/hispanic peoples.

and this holiday just coincides perfectly with my personal desire for peace, forgiveness, and ability to ‘live in the light of the knowledge’ of such.

i went the lovely Santa Fe opera last night (more on that soon) and was surprised the orchestra ushered in opening night with a rousing rendition of ‘the star spangled banner’, all the crowd singing along.  honestly, i could not sing. i just did not feel like it. i’m just not feeling it right now. and i’m ok with that.

there will be no fireworks here this year. the extreme dryness causing the extreme threat of forest fire makes it unsafe.  no backyard to grill out in.  no campfires or hiking as the trails are all closed due to fire danger.

in other words, i may look back on this as ‘the weird fourth of july’.

less dangerous.

more peaceful.

sounds good to me.

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“And I can’t wait to see this dream in which I’ll be a child again and

feel happy again because everything will be still ahead, everything will be possible.”

-Andrei Tarkovsky-

CAN09 = Contemporary Art Norwich 09 = The art festival I walked around in Norwich the failed bike adventure day.  It was at multiple venues across the city so a perfect catalyst for exploring.

My favorite exhibit was photographic works by Norfolk-based artist Frances Kearney.  One author describes her work in relation to film director Tarkovsky:  “The notion of finding sanctuary in nature has echoes in the films of the Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky whose characters frequently escape the city to find solace in the landscape.…Kearney and Tarkovsky are asking questions about the role played by the country in relation to the city.  On a more fundamental level, they are also exploring the degree to which solace is linked to time and place.”

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Here’s how a festival brochure describes her work:  “These fictitious, carefully constructed, large-scale colour photographic tableaux explore the idea of finding sanctuary  in nature during childhood.  The works consider how notions of fear and anxiety are often projected by the adult viewer onto the subjects, yet absent in the experience of the girls depicted.”

The title of this series was inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s short story The Big Two Hearted River; returning from war to find his village dstroyed, Nick seeks solace in fishing for trout.  When Kearney returned in 2006 to live in her childhood home, she realised how important the landscape was to her sense of well-being.

Kearney says:  “A few months after returning, I realised that it was “the edge” I had longed for:  the point where the land meets the water, in this case, the sea.  I have realised that living by water is immensely important to me as is the open sky, space and freedom for one’s soul that this region provides.’

Yeah,  I ate this up.

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“Clearly the images have been created rather than captured; instead of lying in wait for the ‘decisive moment’…Kearney plans and deliberates; these are not split-second responses to fleeting moments…her images occupy the present tense of paintings, in which the moment is extended into an endless continuum.  Because of their beauty, clarity and intensity, her images are often compared with film, but these narratives unfold only in the imagination…as viewers, this gives us the chance, deliciously, to indulge our longing for beauty and desire for meaning.”  (Sarah Kent)

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Kearney took the photos in her native Norfolk’s broads.  Ironically, the setting is where I was to have been cycling that day, so at least I got to see what I was missing.  Which might have looked something like this:

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“Can solace be sought, or must one lie in wait for it?  As a state of mind, maybe it can be accessed anywhere and, if this is the case, perhaps the children in these complex multi-layerd photographs provide some sort of key to its attainment.”  (Kent)

Yesterday, while the Krugers took the kids to learn forms of Medieval torture (seriously:  http://krugersincambridge.blogspot.com/2009/08/mountfitchet-castle.html)  I set off on a different mission:  Take the train north, bike in hand, from Cambridge to Norwich then northeast from Norwich to Hoveton, where the broads begin to lead you to the coast.  The area is filled with fantastic cycling through small towns, marshes, salt water creeks all the way to the sea.  The forecast was 82 and sunny, so I packed a lunch and hit the road.

Yet again, I almost missed my train.  Train travel may just break me of my procrastination.  I pedaled to the station as fast as I could, bought my ticket and ran down the platform, making eye contact with the conductor who smiled back as the doors were closing.  I knew I was safe.  Brits are friendly like that, he wouldn’t pull off after seeing me.  I tapped the door button and it opened to let me on.

The train was packed.  82 degrees and sunny and last two weeks of summer holiday:  everyone was headed to the shore.  I was forced to face standing with my bike for the hour and a half ride, as we would only pick up more passengers as we neared the coast.  Thinking soon on, I realised I bought the wrong train ticket- forgetting my portion to Hoveton.  I calculated the mistake was going to cost me about 5 pounds (or $8).  Dang it.

About an hour into the trip, the train was completely, completely full.  My bike and I were crammed against the doors of one of the entryways of the train when suddenly I felt a little queasy.  I was facing backwards, so I turned around.  Going through my mind:  “What could possibly be worse than throwing up on a completely packed train?”.  The question was answered quickly when all sounds muted in the way it feels when you go under water…then the spots came and the train started spinning…

Thoughts in my head:  “Passing out on a completely packed train is worse than throwing up.  Dang it, I must have locked my knees.  I need to put my head between my legs but I can’t even begin to sit down.  Why couldn’t I have learned this lesson when Julie was riding the train with me?  UGH, of course I’m alone, I wonder what the NHS will do with me?  What if I pass out and they pull the emergency alarm I’ve been staring at for the past hour and they stop this completely packed train- how embarrassing.    Dear Lord, please, please, please, no…”

I bent my knees slightly and put my head down on my bike seat, hoping it was below my heart.  I prayed and prayed and then slowly sound returned as well as a cold sweat.  I just had to make it to my stop- about ten minutes away.  I wondered if my travel neighbor could tell I was close to collapse.  I kept my head down until the train stopped and exited my clammy self quickly.  I sat down in the tea shop and reconsidered my plan.  I wanted to see Norwich anyway and cycling in remote marsh areas after almost passing out didn’t seem like the best idea, so I saved my five pounds and settled for an urban adventure.

I am so content wandering around new cities- it’s an even more exhilarating and comforting feeling than putting on my favourite scarf or hiking boots.  I rode my bike for a while then parked and headed into the pedestrian zone towards the city center.  The market failed to impress except, of course, for the used book stall.  I am a sucker for a used book stall.  This biography got to come home with me:  Christine:  SOE Agent and Churchill’s Favourite Spy.

I stepped into a quirky gift shop/art gallery and saw a print ad for Norwich Contemporary Art Festival.  Turns out it was running through this week at venues all around town and several of the exhibitions were free.  This gave a skeleton to my day to my day of wandering the medieval city.

I went from venue to venue and discovered some amazing artists.  Norwich is the gritty/artsy city to Cambridge’s pristine intellectualism.  Lots of used music shops, tattoo parlors, old churches that are now art centers.  The grass is not as green or manicured as Cambridge, but you can see Neko Case in a 200 seat, 1000 year old stone church….oh la la.  I had an amazing lunch: brie, avocado and red pepper chutney on a 9 seed baguette. I taught a barista-man (and a few other customers at the counter)  how to make an iced coffee.

The art was quite good and gets its own post next.

I rode the train home with the setting sun, past fields of cows, sheep, hogs and wheat.  Thankful for room on the bike rack for my bike which meant a seated ride for me.

Watch out Norfolk broads, I’m coming back for you very soon….

(…and for the record, we thought the Medieval torture trip was a child-centered castle/village recreation.  If I knew it was going to be so edgy and educational, I might just have gone on the journey!)