Nedescapes
Sunday, March 8, 2009  

Home Sweet Home-Base...


by Marcelo Games

Heather and I traveled to Paris once. We stayed in a lovely centuries-old home in the small city of La-Celle-Saint-Cloud (pronounced la sell san clue) where Heather's parents were living on a two year stint with IBM. There was a particular, multi-layered smell about the house and the town; a built-in smell which, like a city grid or the pattern in a fabric, underlies and its quiet way identifies the place or the fabric with the sum of all its parts. It was the smell of cheese and wine, leather and wood, grass clippings, flowers and freshly cut herbs; all imbued with the ever-present but never overbearing big city scents of newsprint, traffic fumes, coffee grounds, baking bread, and the pervasive, steamy, humid tug of the Metro, rumbling deep down in the guts of the collective "see".

The walk into the business district closest to the house (the "Village" of this particular section of the city) was about four blocks. The train ride to Paris, not ten miles away, took about 30 minutes. I remember how we'd make morning forays those four quiet blocks to the village, strolling underneath tunnels of old, broad-limbed trees that peeked over walled-in courtyards and yawned across the narrow sidewalks as if lazily pointing out the cobbled streets where once the clops of horses hooves echoed, but now only car tires whizz and fripple across the aging stone. I remember the train rides across the backs of several "Saint-Clouds" - each alike but distinct in its own unique manifestation - and the way the buildings started growing and how the scale of all things human gradually expanded, radiated outward in a deliciously ordered chaos of invention and ostentation until we'd find ourselves in the heart of Paris, dizzy with the bigness of it, the oldness of it, and the newness all at once.

But I most remember sitting at the kitchen table at "home base", talking, perusing maps and luxuriating in the sheer, incomparable glory of a few baguettes, a chunk of Comte cheese, and a glass or two (or three) of rich, deep-red Beaujolais wine. My god, the simple beauty of it!

I often wonder what it would be like to travel here, to be a visitor experiencing Nederland and the mountain region for the very first time. I've lived here nearly 20 years now, and I forget the sense of initial newness I'd felt upon arrival, but I still feel newness all the time. There's so much here at altitude, from the majesty of the Continental Divide to the stillness of an alpine lake to the funky beat of a poetry-music jam at Blue Owl Books on a Saturday night, or the the full-on blast of a rock band at the Pioneer Inn on 1st Street.

I can imagine sitting at the breakfast nook at Trail's End studying a trail map, choosing a route for the day, unaware as yet of the unbelievable, awe-inspiring hike to come. I've been on many mountain hikes and every one is new, every one is different, every one is absolutely monumental in its beauty. First there's the silence- the seeming absence of sound until your ears adjust to it, and then the slow fade-in of a breeze against pine needles, the twitterings of birdcalls, the chatterings of squirrels, the flutter-buzz of hummingbirds only an arm's length away from reach. There's the occasional wave and serene "hello" from a passing hiker, the crunch of foot falls on dirt and gravel, the steady breathing and inward stride as you make the outward connection to earth, rock, sun and sky all at once. There's the brief, once in a lifetime, other-wordly encounter with a wild creature - a marmot, a deer, a red-tailed hawk; the thrill of standing on an outcrop of rock and gazing impossibly down at post-card perspectives of valleys, canyons, meadows and lakes...and there's the absolute sublime, irreplaceable joy of snacking on an apple at 11,000 feet after a two hour hike to the top of the world- and it's all right outside the doorway, not five miles away from home-base! It can't help, really, but be new every time, even it you've done it again and again and again.

Comments:
You have a way with words!
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous : March 16, 2009 at 5:17 PM
 

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