Thanks for Reading and Reviewing
Wayfaring Traveler Stories
After a Murphy's Law of Cyberspace
Archive of Earlier Storytelling
Fraught & Translucent
7 December 2023
My weeks in the Holy Land with a mostly discordant group, I was alone a lot. They were just embarrassing, self-identified seemingly, as hotshot Americans. Had they no manners, in this already highly-charged nexus of history? I walked the crenelated Crusader ramparts of the Old City... bumbling along in some caricature-reprise of the book, The Ugly American. Tried to get some understanding of the tribal energies very much alive in the bazaar of shops and holy places.
When in the Old Jerusalem environs, I made it a point to explore the Arab Quarter.
1) In some parallel somewhere, I apparently had karmic bidness to attend to. Palestinians caught sight of me and went engorged with rage... Moi?...What?... In fact, I had a strong irrational apprehension of not being safe, among an otherwise hospitable people.
I made myself return again and again. What on earth are they seeing? Had I blundered into some strange land beyond travel brochures?... And you betcha, I did pray... Please, show me; give me a hint?
A particularly impressive Bedu all but flung an image my way... of a tall blond Knight Templar wearing the distinctive Christian surcoat. Was totally gobsmacked. I stopped in various shops and had conversations, Turkish coffee or mint tea, and it finally ebbed.
2) Also I had lived a memorable sojourn in post World War II Germania. I was appalled at the latter day Hitler-Jugend dressed in blue and white shorts, shirts and ties, carrying Uzis, and lording it over their Palestinian elders. The teenages in blue and white uniforms stood armed on every street corner, and favored marching through the Quarter singing bellicose anthems. Or so I surmised from the hunched shoulders and flashing eyes of the shopkeepers. I do not speak Hebrew or Arabic and felt the deficit keenly.
Ever since that journey, in quiet moments I breathe out a prayer:
Help us to forgive one another.
Courthouse Square Christmas
5 December 2023
I attended a really dazzling small town Christmas Parade; more about that in a moment. First I had to get there.
Earth was in the midst of a geomagnetic storm, with aurora borealis for the fortunate. And not long thereafter, massive quakes in the Philippines. Some folks experience that sort of planetary dis-equilibrium in their bodies, maybe as headache or faux-flu. It can even be hard to walk.
Huge crowds were gravitating into town, which left only remote eccentric parking, probably illegal in daylight. I nudged my putt-putt, emergency-braked with its nose pointing down into a creek bottom, under a big old live oak tree... Reaching the Courthouse Square, I limped in behind South Texas Trail Riders, their necks and their horses' proud ones draped in multi-colored holiday lights. As though winning the Derby!
All the shops, from the 1890's, had been transformed in a day or two into Dickensian come-hithers. Here and now, hundreds of shmart phones added to the buzzy EMF of Old Sol's Coronal Mass Ejection. Lord have mercy.
Finally standing at the foot of the steeply angled stairs leading to my friends' celebration. I began self-talking my way into gear: (You've climbed the Wetterhorn, for goodness sake; pull yourself together... Dizzy, achey? Come on.)
Part way up, I heard footsteps. A tall man stopped just below me on the narrow stairs, introduced himself as he put out his right hand palm-up. (He wants me to hand him something?) I gave him my satchel with the popcorn I'd made. He shifted it to his other hand, and tried again, introducing himself and offering his hand.
(Slow, but I got it, and managed not to cry: You're in Texas, toots. He's not a soyboy. His gender has offered your gender help in getting up the stairs.)
Once in the high, pressed-tin ceiling space with original waxed floors, I drifted out to the upper porch, past the groaning board of nummies, and nekkid lady ship figureheads on the wall. Settled into one rocking chair of eight. Still early, and quiet up there, though a rollicking cast of thousands down below.
Small towns from all over participated, some so small they have no stoplights, but did send floats of "Miss (tiny town)... and her Court." Young women in rhinestone crowns and evening gowns, sequins glittering, waved from snowy palace and grotto fantasias. Someone(s) in all our flyover country had poured love into Christmas of 2023. Various Stetsons were moving quietly along the edge of the melée, keeping things running.
A paradise of !!Fire Trucks!! blowing sirens and klaxons, wonderfully decked out, garish with lights, hove into view. I peeked over the garlanded porch railing at thrilled little boys racing around. The championship uniformed football team formed an unadorned brown study on a flat bed. Much cheering as they passed.
Texas is devoutly serious about showing up and rooting for its communities. High School bands marched through with hotshot drummers and dancing cheerleaders twirling flags. There were floats from churches, 4-H Clubs, tractors swathed in Christmas lights, a Ford Model T farm truck restored to warm red and brown.
Trail Riders came prancing, some hunkered down in carts and wagons drawn by burro, mule, Shetland ponies. A tractor followed and the costumed elf passenger hopped off and on, scooping up equine poop with a snow shovel. Elf was also cheered. She offered her tilted rear view to helpful insults shouted by friends... Shriners zipped in an out on small ATV's,
Chairs had been set up all around the Square and some businesses routinely provide benches with cushions. Lots of babies asleep no matter what, wild kids careening with sugar rushes, dogs barking and trying to kerfuffle. Across the street encircling the chateau-esque Courthouse, white crafter tents, lit from within, were doing business selling treats and stocking-stuffers. Shoppers strolled, laughed, many with leashed dogs in Santa or reindeer jackets and headgear.
Wouldn't have missed it, an evening of incandescent silliness.
And didn't, thanks to kindness going up the stairs.