By Henri Cole
Tired, hungry, hot, I climbed the steep slope
to town, a sultry, watery place, crawling with insects
In the semidarkness of the mountain,
small things loomed large: a donkey urinating on a palm;
a salt-and-saliva-stained boy riding on his mother's back;
a shy roaming black Adam. I was walking on an edge.
The moments fused into one crystalline rock,
like ice in a champagne bucket. Time was plunging forward,
like dolphins scissoring open water or like me,
following Jenny's flippers down to see the coral reef,
where the color of sand, sea and sky merged,
and it was as if that was all God wanted:
not a wife, a house or a position,
but a self, like a needle, pushing in a vein.
A low-key Saturday in which I folded laundry while watching A Knight's Tale, spent an hour reading a book about castle evolution in Wales and fixed some code on my web page that used to work fine but apparently something in the CSS disagreed with something on the server. Daniel had robotics and Adam volunteered at Hebrew school with my mother, so after we picked them up, we stopped at Target and Giant for necessities and I was delighted to find unshelled pistachios back in stock after several months of breaking nails on the kind with shells. We also went to Borders to get the second and third E.E. Knight dragon books -- dementordelta gave Adam the first and he loves it -- and we found Jon Stewart's America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction on the bargain table, where anyone who has never seen it before should go check it out. We bought it for older son, who has spent half the night reading it aloud to us.
Traditionally this shop would have been run by the doctor -- not that a medical degree would have been required -- who would have made house calls with these exotic herbs while colonists grew more common herbs at home and treated themselves.
Given what the medical equipment looked like, it is not terribly surprising that the colonists tried to avoid calling the doctor except in dire circumstances.
Nearby is the silversmith. This one was working on cups...
...while others were working on spoons and jewelry.
And the blacksmith was working on a ring for an ox cart...
...while the shop owner explained apprenticeship and metalworking in the colony. This smithy is named for James Anderson, a blacksmith during the Revolutionary War whose shop once stood on this site, though this is a recreation.
After dinner we watched The Fountain, which is one of the most haunting films I have ever seen. I don't even know what to compare it to -- in some ways it reminds me of Pan's Labyrinth in that you're not quite sure whether what seem to be fantasy sequences are supposed to be real or figments of the characters' imaginations, but it's much more subtle and really breathtakingly sad -- the awful stuff in Pan's Labyrinth and other story-within-story movies like Kiss of the Spider Woman is portrayed as the product of particularly awful people at particular historical moments, but the suffering at the core of The Fountain is really the eternal human condition.
And it's also amazingly beautiful, which I knew from the previews -- the fantasia of Renaissance Spain, the walks in the snow, the tree, the nebula. I wish we knew Rachel Weisz's character a bit better; she was troublingly like so many women dying young in movies, ethereal and calm and outrageously beautiful, making no demands for herself and handing her beloved the mechanism for coping with her loss, a bit too much object rather than subject. But Hugh Jackman was phenomenal -- I know I'm using a lot of superlatives, they're really all deserved. His terror and anger and grief are completely believable. I was crying when he was sobbing and tattooing his wedding ring onto his finger, but what's really exceptional is how completely he made me believe how much he loved his wife. It's hard to create believable love, as opposed to chemistry or passion, even in a much longer movie or series. This may be the most romantic movie of the past twenty years.
And on a related note, I must give a big happy sigh to Baldwin and Inoue, who may have lost the gold but I'd rather go see them skate anyway. The Guardian's longtime skating critic, Sandra Stevenson, admitted when Torvill and Dean launched their first multimillion-pound world tour that she thought the story should have ended with a quiet wedding in Nottingham, and even though I know how outrageously unfair it is to expect art to imitate life, I felt exactly the same way. Hey, I was only 18 at the time. I am very grateful to Baldwin for deciding to give us a public engagement!