Sunday 17 October 2010

Land of the Pumpkin-Eaters

You know that bit in Tennyson's poem The Lotos Eaters where it says, 'They came to a land in which it seemed always afternoon'? Well, America's like that for me, except that instead of afternoon, it's autumn. Fall. Our last three trips here have been in October, and before that in December-January, so the summer incarnation is totally unfamiliar to me, and autumn is the default season.

It's good, I like it. I like the colours of the trees, the low sun, the rich light; the pumpkins and Halloween decorations; the crisp evenings and the delight in a precious day of sunshine. Crunching through the leaves with the air clear and chill is as good a way to spend an afternoon as any, I reckon.

Today we took the ferry back to Anacortes, with a stop at Lopez Island, and Mt Baker dominated the scene, big and white and the focal point of every photo. We drove along the coast up to Bellingham where we joined dread-locked beanie-wearers at the Farmers Market in eating local food ('22 miles!') and listening to Irish music on an electric fiddle. Quinoa and smoked salmon cakes: yum.

Then we went to the American Museum of Radio and Electricity which was much more interesting than it sounds - literally hair-raising, in fact. The curator was really wired-up (ha) and enthusiastic, and excited about all the priceless exhibits which he showed us with the eagerness of a small boy, words tripping over each other, zig-zagging us through the displays as another favourite occurred to him.

I played a theremin extremely badly - look, Mum, no hands! - and was pleased to hear it was used in 'Good Vibrations'. That's a song my music teacher scoffed at back in 1968 and dismissed as something we'd have forgotten about before a year was out. You reading this, Mrs Lloyd?

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