• James Eric Fristad

As We Go

Updated: May 31, 2021

It seems easy, and even natural, to think of this kind of drawn-out happening as a series of events, places, clusters of Portuguese- or French- or Spanish- or Italian-folk. Not that the weeks aren't going to be populated by those things, but as I think about it, I wonder if there's a danger of imagining that it's only the venues where we find ourselves being entertained, that matter. You know, where an happening leaps out of the ether and delights us and because of that pleasure becomes one of the ebenezer items of the trip (do look that up if need be; it's an ancient Hebrew practice of heaping a pile of stones up where a momentous event has taken place). Oddly this photo from 2019 relates to that.

We were on the THELLO Italian train enroute from Genoa to Nice, gently rocking along with railroad track noises softened by well insulated carriages and better than average shock absorbers down there somewhere. Soothing, pleasant, and completely new. Michele felt a little peckish, as did I, and left her seat to go in search of a snack bar. Came back with this little screw-top bottle of Sangiovese. About a pint. And produced from the mathoms in her purse (sorry, another odd word which I seem unable to do without) some chunks of Trader Joe's chocolate. Which she invited me to render more bite sized using my little travelin' pocket knife. And we enjoyed that for-the-nonce red wine and morsels of TJ's dark chocolate, and the moments became magic. Luxury had nothing to do with its lasting effect on us; determination to sense every moment as fully as we could, had everything to do with the outcome of that fun little nosh.

The point is that we were ready for this little miracle to show itself, whenever and wherever it lurked. Did not go on autopilot until time to retrieve our bags and trundle off the train at Nice Gare. For me, at least, the warmth of that time is no less than was visiting the Musee des Beaux Arts(populated by a Rodin sculpture and several paintings of major impressionists, a couple of days later or wandering among the stone remnants of Roman culture, preserved a kilometer or so distant from the tourist-filled beach.

It is an attitude I want to cultivate -- the concept of never declaring in my heart that the "connective tissue" is less worthwhile than the biggies one hears about, abroad.

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