27 December 2006

James Brown and the Wizard of Oz

I have new moccasins, first pair ever. I have an address in Gulfport. James Brown is dead.

I am in Wyoming where the wind sings and moans as it moves, rattling the bare winter branches and scattering fallen snow so the air blinks and shimmers in brilliant sunlight. James Brown departed early yesterday morning; perhaps even as spirit, he retains his singing, dancing iridescence.

When I stand on the lower back porch of this house to smoke a cigarette, in the sparkly swirling snow powder, I imagine I am a figure inside a snow-globe paperweight.

We will leave here in a few days, carrying more than when we arrived. I accepted holiday gifts from my hosts here (I didn’t bring gifts for them). For the sojourner, the number of gifts or other material goods accepted corresponds to the length of the stopover. In the spaces between stops, every Thing must be carried so gifts, however generous and pure the heart of the giver, are only accepted after due consideration of …

  • Weight
  • Bulk or shape
  • Relative fragility/durability/travel-ability
  • Functionality
  • How much it feeds my soul
  • Context in which the gift was made
…among other factors. Since I will stay in Gulfport MS for awhile, I won't have to carry this stuff around. I will have a place to set things. And when I leave Gulfport....

Even if ST carried a suitcase as large as my Eagle Creek convertible backpack she could not have packed more than two changes of clothing given the copious yards of material used in the dresses and skirts of the era (the mid-1800s) plus underclothing and bonnet. After the publication of the Narrative in 1850, she also carried copies of it to sell as well as the cartes de visite.

When were cardboard boxes invented?

The “luxury” of being able to carry more clothing—in addition to the ease of mobility that my wheeled luggage permits—is a noteworthy difference between our sojourns.

Last summer in CO Springs, the temperamental winds recalled a recurrent question—what is wind? Despite two previous investigations over the span of the last decade, I still didn’t really know how wind was born. I found a book about wind in a neighborhood bookstore. [look up this title] The idea of the book caught my fancy but I really bought it because of my attraction to the owner of the store.

I was halfway through the book when Katrina happened. The bookstore owner spurned my advances so, just before I left CO to volunteer in the Gulf Coast recovery effort, I returned the book to the store. (This was not a case of the “due consideration” mentioned earlier but the emergence of one of my little neuroses— purging all material evidence of “failed” relationships.) (The purchase price of the book was not refunded; even if it had been offered I would have refused to accept the tainted funds...)

My second month in New Orleans, tornado-strength wind ripped our FEMA tents from their moorings one night and left many residents of the Algiers encampment exposed to the fury and deluge of a fierce storm. My Eagle Creek luggage was zipped tight when the storm hit so I had dry clothes to change into that night. Many of my less tidy tent mates were not so lucky.

For several weeks now I’ve wanted to see The Wizard of Oz. We rented it yesterday from Blockbuster. This afternoon, while outside the wind is quieter, I’ll curl up cozy inside and watch and tremble again as Elmira Gulch blows past the bedroom window of Dorothy’s windswept house.