Sunday, July 15, 2012

"The World is a Book"

My inaugural column for The Wellington Times:

The world is a book

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Some say that the Swiss don’t travel much because their country is so beautiful. Why leave?

Living in a gorgeous, vibrant, topographically varied tourist destination like Prince Edward County can make it a challenge to motivate oneself to search for beauty and meaning elsewhere. On the flight home from my recent trip to paint en plein air in California, it occurred to me that when immersing the spirit in a different environment, we cannot help but find similarities to our home.

This search for meaning and connection during travel led me to daydreamy drives down California One, putting my trust in nature atop the wildflower-dotted cliffs that are so much like our Little Bluff, and going with the flow of a redwood forest waterfall that sounded just like Jackson’s Falls.
I wonder if the Swiss go to our Canadian Rockies and see bits of “home”?

This kind of travel experience encourages us to carry back a cornucopia of inspirational ideas. Brilliant ideas like the cloth shopping bag recycling station I saw at a Santa Cruz organic market! Or the astonishing formulation of colour on my fresh palette of oil paints that I had not before considered— not knowing how quinacridone-sienna warm the underlying light really was there—until I saw it, tasted it, and experienced it.

My recent visit to the Henry Miller Memorial Museum at Big Sur in Central California was likewise inspiring. Developed and run by volunteers and reliant on donations, the diminutive, quaint cabin bookshop and Internet lounge is a quirky and appropriate celebration of the well-respected writer of Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. (Think Fifty Shades of Grey—in Paris—for a macho 1930s audience.)

Classic books of the era/area (Kerouac, Steinbeck, Nin, et al) hang from the ceiling by twine, while posters and original correspondence adorn the walls along with drawings, poetry, and memorial snippets from those who shared the cultural experience of the time.

Eclectic and casual, the space offers free wi-fi, coffee, camaraderie with fellow travellers, as well as a performance venue. Summer concert series are held here, and foreign film nights on the knoll facing a big outdoor screen reminiscent of the era’s drive-in theatres give the impression of great evening fun.
Looking at all of this made me think of acclaimed Canadian poet Al Purdy’s cabin, currently languishing on Roblin Lake in Ameliasburgh. There, the ghosts of so many lakeside parties and memories of former gatherings of like-minded souls wait to be acknowledged. Could be quite effective if a similar type of memorial shrine was possible there.
Read the rest of the article  HERE

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