Sunday, July 29, 2012
A horrible day: instead of 5 hours we drove for 8, with short stops, not even time to eat, but mostly on sharply turning, winding, precipitous roads, across mountain passes, where at some points there was just a one-lane road - and you could never tell what will jump at you from around that next corner. People say that the most dangerous thing on this road is to face a rented RV. I wish I followed the directions they gave me at the AAA office; instead, I trusted my GPS device.
Of course, crossing the Sierra Nevada is a beautiful, if harrowing, experience. The Ebbot's Pass takes you through alpine forests, along pristine lakes, untouched,wild nature.
In the evening we reached the Pyramid Lake. Peace, asolute quiet, beauty of pale blue and dusty rose colors around you. The lake is only an hour and a half from Reno, but as it is part of the Native American rezervation, it is untouched by civilization. There are a few hundred people on its banks, mostly in RVs - and the town of Suttcliff ( a dozen of small homes bunched up together ). One motel to offer lodging: Crosby's Lodge has 3 cottages, a lively bar fueled by modern country music, a few gambling apparatuses, and a store that sells everything a fisherman might dream of.
They took us in with genuine welcome and fed us! Finally! We each got a gigantic basket of fish and chips - even my father could not finish!
The cottage was fully equipped for a long stay: a full-size refrigerator, a full size gas stove, a microwave oven, pots, pans, siverware, salt, pepper, flour, - 4 beds - and a bathroom - for the price of meager 70 bucks a night!
We could not wait to see the lake. So, after dinner, we walked about 100 feet down to the water. There were white pelicans, moodily watching the waters, sandpipers running along the shore, rabbits, quail, quite unintimidated by our presence.
The lake is beautiful. I wish we could rent a boat trip - but the only rentals available were superexpensive speedboats that I would never dare to drive.
Even from this shore you could see an out-of-this world vision of a stone pyramid closer to the eastern bank of the lake, rising from the water, changing color every half hour in the setting sun.
Today we took the Grand tour of the Yosemite Park. I was so happy I did not have to drive! First we headed to Maripoza, to see the giant sequoias. Then - to Glacier Point, 7 thousand feet above sea level, to feast our eyes on the Yosemite valley and the famous Half Dome Rock. Standing there, by the precipice, you get an illusion of flight - and a feeling that you could embrace this whole valley with its waterfalls and endless forests, grey rocks polished by glaciers, and clear clean streams at the bottom.
Later we descended to the bottom of the canyon and admired the majesty of the Yosemite Fall and the Bridal Veil Fall. The Yosemite fall is the tallest - the water falls from the height of 2 thousand feet. In the end of June it was already shrinking, only to dry out in the middle of July. But the Bridal Veil never dries; it was ripped by the wind and tinted by the setting sun. At 4:30 P.M. one can see the rainbow in its waters.
The second leg of the trip - from Ashland to Yosemite - took another 9 hours. We whizzed through Sacramento - a huge modern city (that was a surprise) - and turned towards the mountains. I particularly enjoyed the last hour and a half of our trip: we were in the rolling footsteps of Sierra Nevada. The road flowed between round dry hills covered with tall dry grass that, in the rays of the sinking sun, seemed more molten gold then anything organic. Every turn of the road opened a new vista, both rustic and wild, with small farms clinging to the hillsides and scant trees dotting the landscape.
Finally we reached the town of Fish Camp. It is the tiniest of townships one can imagine, a handful of homes, a couple of restaurants - and several inns. But this little town is historically significant: here the US government placed its cavalry and made a stand to defend Yosemite from loggers, pouchers and developers.
Tenaya Lodge - our destination - is a sprawling hotel complex with a majestic sentral hall, all decorated in roughly hewn stone and wood, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, jaccuzis, restaurants, and parks. It sits on a slope facing a picturesque canyon at 5 thousand feet above sea level. It is, of course, rather pricy (from $350 per night) - but so are all of the hotels near the gates or in the park itself. Just to think about supplying water, electricity, food, etc. this far into the mountains - no wonder the prices could be stiff.
My annual road trip with my parents began on June 26. 9 hours to Ashland, including a stop for lunch and a stop for gas...
We left fairly early - around 6:30, and was I glad we did! We flew through downtown Seattle, passed Tacoma and almost did not slow down near Olympia. Approaching Vancouver, WA, I spotted a policeman on a motorbike- as always, hunting around the curve in the road, where the speed limit suddenly plunges from 70 to 50 mph. Well, I have already learned my lesson. I was demurely driving in the right lane, hiding between other cars.
And then - Portland! Portland is beautiful in any weather! It welcomes you with the futuristic glass towers of the Convention center, and then, as you are climbing the bridge over Colorado, it envelopes you in endlessly softly rolling vistas - tony downtown, lush parks and historic residential areas climbing higher up the green slopes.
The rain was on our heels: we had to eat our lunch in the car. Only by Grant's Pass we glimpsed some patches of blue sky... The temperature in Ashland fell to 48 degrees! That night we saw "As You Like It". We had warm coats, wrapped ourselves in blankets - even my father, who usually considers acknowledging heat or cold below his dignity, was glad to have a blanket that night!
Could it have been cold? The actors seemed frozen stiff. Singing was... no, I think my students did better. By coincidence, this semester's production was "As You Like It". I could not help comparing: mm - clever sleeves... I probably could do this... fighting scene - is too slow, movements too simple... my kids did better ... why is Jaques de Bois suddenly a woman? etc. I so much prefer their previous production of As You Like It about 4 years ago...
Friday, June 22, 2012
fragile and luminescent
like thin glass tubes
reflect gold and darkness, light and shadow.
And further: a field sprinkled with daisies,
a lake, a vista of marching snow-capped mountains
in a pearly scarf of cold mist.
The grass glows like a myriad emeralds,
the trees have lost their stark winter look
the branches are still transparent,
but leaf buds are tinting them with yellow,
each smiling the quiet smile of a pregnant woman:
the mystery of creation.
Sunny young voices
tug on invisible strings
kites up on high
and their fathers.
kites up on high
and their fathers.
A woman carrying a platter with food still warm
In the semidarkness of the long hallway, slightly swaying her hips,
leaves a trail of tantalizing smells and indistinct memories
in her wake like a time-traveler’s ship
caught in the ice-fields of the past
Children look up at the table where their mother’s hands
fly over the dough, kneading, shaping
The sounds of oil hissing on the stove
Minced meat in a bowl and nut shells on the floor
A fantastic world of holidays and unconditional love.
I blame the Moon, my pallid-faced friend,
Who drags me out into the empty alleys,
Where footsteps echo like a boisterous drum
And fragrant leaves cling to a fragile trellis.
She is to blame that I am here, alone
A passing specter by a glowing window
That thirsts for taste of some unknown life
And plunders dreams that curl up on your pillow.
I look inside and play a guessing game:
Who left a glass upon this cold table?
Whose maps and lamps adorn apartment walls?
What song she sings over that wicker cradle?
I watch a boy that stares back at night
Perhaps he dreams of other times and places
I feel his loneliness and hear his silent call
I catalogue his face and hundreds other aspects.
Back into shadow, slinking in,
my footsteps weave a different pattern,
As I dissolve among dark dancing leaves
The Moon blows out her magic silver lantern.
I love these movies!
- The Fall, directed by Tarsem
- Amelie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jennet
- Lord of the Rings, directed by Peter Jackson
- Moulan Rouge, directed by Baz Luhrman
- Moonsoon Wedding, directed by Mira Nair
- Australia, directed by Baz Luhrman
- Despereately seeking Susan, directed by Susan Seidelman
- Miss Pettigrew lives for a day, directed by Bharat Nalluri
Favorite books and authors
- Boris Vassiliev, historical novels
- C.Cherryh, Morgaine Sagas
- Ch.Dickens, The Bleak House
- George Martin, The Chronicles of Ice and Fire
- Gregory Frost, Shadow Bridge novels
- Heinrich Mann, Henry the IV
- J.R.R.Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
- Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma
- Robert Jordan, The Wheel of Time
- Sir Thomas Mallory, Le Mort D'Artur
- Ted Williams, Green Angel Tower
- Terry Goodkind, Magician's First Rule and the following books in this saga
- Thomas Mann, Joseph and his Brothers