Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Archive for the tag “city”

A Place I Never Reached

“Can Any Good Thing Come out of Nazareth?”

Such a ridiculous sentiment. On the surface it suggests there are places of which we should expect nothing. There are those who genuinely seem to believe that to be considered worthy you must come from such and such place.  Or have gone to such and such a college. If your blood is merely red…

No, I’m not talking about the city in Israel:

764px-The_virgins_fountain_Nazareth_Holy_Land_(i.e._Israel)

Nor for that matter am I talking about the place in Pennsylvania The Band sang about:

My train pass not being valid I had to hitchhike, and rides were unfortunately hard to come by. At least part of the problem was the difficulty of anyone who actually wanted to give me a ride actually being able to do so without putting themselves at considerable risk. To give you an idea of the distance I covered after 8 hours or so, imagine taking the journey with a donkey.

252px-Donkey_a(Photographer: Watta)

To be honest, I should have probably noticed I wasn’t in an area particularly renowned for the leisurely strolls of the bourgeoisie. When two men jumped out of a van and approached, I knew at least I wasn’t going to be kidnapped, my net worth being considerably lower than Patty Hearst or the poor guy whose ear was cut off.

Actually it was the police who after showing me their IDs, asked,  “Do you want to be in a line up? We’ll pay you.” Although I could have used a little hard cash, just the tiniest possibility of being picked as the guilty party by an eyewitness (and we know how very unreliable they are) put me off the idea. They were fine with that and just told me to be careful as I was in a dangerous neighborhood.  It was getting dark, and their warning prompted me to get a bus ticket and head back into the center of the great big metropolis, never having reached my destination.

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Istanbul

While I’ve traveled widely in the United States, Canada, and Europe, I’ve only just stepped into Asia:

775px-OldBosphorus_colorized

Istanbul is a city with a mood:

The Blue Mosque

Agia-sofia

Cistern(Photographer: Moise Nicun)

The decorative tiles are stunning:

Topkapi_Palace_(6526101629) by David Stanley

G.dallorto2(Photographer: G.dallorto)

Georges Jansoone(Photographer: Georges Jansoone)

Salep is something to savor.

And if you’re like me and have got a sweet tooth, you’ll not be disappointed:

Yasinuslu34(Photographer Yasiunuslu34)

elif ayse

(Photographer: elif ayse)

Loukoumades

Visit the Grand Bazaar:

grandbazaar Dmgulteken(Photographer: Dmgulteken)

And the Spice Bazaar:

800px-Istanbul_spice_bazaar_02(Photographer: Takeaway)

And by all means haggle.  I’m not particularly comfortable doing so, but it is expected and somewhat of a game. Any misgivings you have should disappear if you realize not doing so will mean paying considerably more than what’s expected.

Turkish hospitality if not famous should be.

Visiting the city made me want to explore other parts of the country as well. Top on the list would be CappadociaSmyrna, and Ephesus.

Since our visit I’ve read two books by Orhan Pamuk, both of which I liked, but Snow especially.  I found Mango’s book on Ataturk to be a great read.  Clot’s book on Suleiman the Magnificent and Crowley’s Constantinople: The Last Great Siege  are both excellent.

Sketch 7: Winter

I do love winter.

Nothing compares to the sight of snowflakes falling.  The closest I have come to hearing it expressed is:

“Deep beneath the cover of another perfect wonder
Where it’s so white as snow”

In terms of painting, Lucas van Valckenborch’s Winter:

Winter

Growing up, I was fortunate to be surrounded by snow.  There were snowmen to build and snowballs to throw. Forts were constructed and tunnels dug.  We climbed steep hills with our sleds and then sped down them.

In midwinter after snowstorms we’d carefully remove the storm window of our second floor bedroom, and jump, sinking down into the huge drifts of snow.

Hours upon hours were spent outside until your cheeks were red from the biting cold, and you went inside for a cup of hot chocolate to warm up before you went out again.

In the backyard the creek froze over, and we’d clear it with shovels and brooms.  If you kept skating you’d arrive in the city, which even then I knew led to the whole wide world.

Sketch 1: Alongside Twilight

The expansive lawn and black Labrador in the photograph may have very well belonged to another family if it were not for that tall thin man puffing on a cigarette. Considering my age, it is not surprisingly I don’t remember them.

I remember our next house. And our dog. He was a beagle, who just so happened to be named Gaylord, but who did not as far as I know look kind of lazy or act kind of crazy. However, he did go missing one hunting season. My dad always thought he was stolen. Since beagles notoriously follow scents, one will never know.

That my early childhood years were spent on consumer goods is also evident from the fact that I remember the daily pilgrimage to the mail box to check whether the Toucan Sam I had sent in for, presumably with countless Fruit Loop box tops, had arrived.

While my neighborhood was only 12 miles from the downtown of a large city, looking around one never would have imagined this. We lived on a dirt road and across the street was a field where we played baseball. In our backyard ran a creek, and one Easter we got ducklings which we named after the Monkees, and which grew and were healthy until they were most unceremoniously devoured by our neighbor’s dog, Bozo. There was a small pond up the street on the corner of which was the Catholic Church we went to on Sundays and the parochial grade school my siblings attended.

Not 10 minutes away was a very steep hill we would toboggan down in winter. To get there we passed a wooden fenced area with grazing horses and a huge barn. One day it caught fire, and I can still see the clouds of smoke that appeared in the sky and feel the heat of the flames devouring the structure.

Turn! Turn! Turn! and And I Love Her never fail to transport me back to these times:

It’s as if I’m taking a trip in The Time Tunnel:

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