Wandering & wondering
For this walk, I felt restricted in my wanderings. I was uncomfortably aware of the need to reflect rather than simply being in the moment. And when I think, was I "present," in my own proceedings? I have to admit that, no, I was mostly divided. I saw, I felt, I heard, and all the time I wanted to translate this into words. But that act of translation, of recording, seems to ruin the experience, no? Or maybe it just leads to other experiences.
I started from the library, my carrel (3.36, a seat by the window, looking into the trees by Rhoads). I carried my backpack, I removed my sandals. I rode the elevator down. I walked out from Lusty Cup and turned right. I thought of putting my feet in the fountain at Taft garden, but instead, I kept walking through. I was pleased at how well I fit through the small arch on the opposing side, and I wondered whether it had been designed for an average woman's height, or if it was coincidentally only a few inches over my head. I sat on the steps for a moment and wondered if they are made of wissahickon schist (I have these words stuck in my head; I like many-syllabled names that I can say over and over again).
I followed the path between Goodhart and Rhoads (I can never remember if it's north or south. It's probably south). The porch behind Rhoads is warm and bright - the slate felt smooth and solid under my feet. I wanted to sit on the new furniture.
I went to inspect the fence around the pond for any new points of access. I thought, perhaps there has been some storm damage since last year, or perhaps the fence was intentionally opened. I walked all the way up towards the tennis courts. There's a boat that used to be untethered, but since my junior year, has been locked to the fence (I wonder whether someone discovered we'd taken it out and floated around the pond, using a long stick for a paddle, exploring the edges).
I kept walking up the pathway, instead of climbing over the fence. There used to be a house by the tennis courts, but it was torn down last year, I think. I remember sitting on the front stoop of the house while it rained, all the plants around the place dripping, and the puddles not quite reaching my feet. I thought, every place on this campus has some sort of memory for me - so much emotion in every location.
I wonder if there is more meaning in tangents of my thoughts than there is in the conscious/intended/written ideas.
"... 'To be born woman is to know-
Although they do not talk of it at school-
That we must labour to be beautiful.'
I said, 'It's certain there is no fine thing
Since Adam's fall but needs much labouring." - W. B. Yeats.
I walked towards Cambrian row and thought about the landscaping - just last year, I remember this space being gutted to put in the new field. The side of the hill was scraped away. I went to a planning meeting once, and I remember hearing that the landscaping on this campus has been done in such a way as to reflect the original landscape at the time of the college's founding. Or something like that, anyway. Use of the native flora. I thought about this while I walked past the hillside below Cambrian row. There is a pleasant sort of wildness, evergreen bushes, roses, grasses, all thrown together, carefully artless. It reminded me of how someone might stage their living room, casually setting books on the coffee table that will reveal their good taste to house guests, without overtly saying to them "I HAVE GOOD TASTE." What is the campus saying to us, residents? To visitors?
I'm still caught up in this idea of casualness, of creating "nature." The art of being artless - or appearing artless and without any intention. After bulldozing the natural landscape (which has already been bulldozed, no doubt, many times - to make way for farms, for buildings, for roads or rock fences), the way we try to revive it is to produce a restrained disarray, an asymmetrical ordering.
I've been thinking about Yeat's poem, Adam's Curse. Just those few lines - about our labor to be beautiful, the construction of beauty. More specifically, I'm thinking about the post-Garden of Eden collapse, of how, in Genesis, all of Creation becomes wild, is infected with sin. It's uncontrolled, it's imperfect and strange. And the human relationship with nature is uncertain; there is a divide. Thrown out of the Garden, we must work the land in order to produce anything beautiful. We must re-define beauty for ourselves - we must re-create whatever we think beauty should be.
I wonder where gender figures into this. I know there must be a connection, but I haven't made it yet.
I kept a journal this summer. I glued a picture of a peregrine falcon on the cover: to peregrinate means to wander. I think of myself as a wanderer sometimes, coming and going between where I sleep and where I eat, where I live most of the year, where my family lives, where I was born.