25 March 2017 § Leave a comment

24 March 2017

Spring is here, and my afternoon walks have been a cool stream of water cleansing my mind.  The colours seem particularly bright, the leaves saturated with deep green and the flowers slumbering deeply each evening to turn out ever bolder each day.  Chill has returned, though, demanding versatility.  As I relayer clothes, I reorient my mind.

I have been wearing plaid wool trousers, because they remind me of Christmas and, thinking about Christmas is an exercise in hope.  They are a bit tricky to pair with things in a springlike way, but it’s been fun to wear them several times over the past few weeks and resemble a cosy blanket.

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I initially shied away from any sweater whose colour would make me feel like I was embodying Christmas and chose this beigey cream cashmere sweater.  I was on my way to vespers, though, and I dislike showing skin at church, probably an effect from a few years of wearing voluminous, blanket-like robe and cotta.  Giving in to my true nature as an elf, I chose a green but kept more to spruce than pine.

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Unfortunately my hair was still drying, so I ran out of time to weave that yellow scarf on the doorknob into a diaphanous halo.

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On St Patrick’s Day, I donned a green cotton blazer, sat down to study, and probably saw no other human that day.  Cheers.

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My clogs wanted to play, and their burnished brown complemented the greyish background of the trousers.

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Then, I turned into a latte.

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That was an especially chilly day, yet it soon warmed up again.

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Wearing monkey socks made imprisoning my feet more acceptable.

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I recently dreamt that I was taking the boards, and it required that I invent and write the questions and their answers, choose the correct answer, and then provide explanations of all of it.  This would actually be a less nightmarish version of the actual thing, and I could even get some writing practice.  I have amassed many facts, most of which are boring by themselves, but there are a few things that actually make me think.  One of these is proposagnosia, caused by a stroke in the posterior cerebral artery and resulting in the inability to recognise faces, even if they are quite familiar.  Patients afflicted with this post-stroke gift often use clues such as clothing, hair style, or voice to determine who is in front of them.  Their sight is unaffected; it is the interpretation that is flawed.

When I read this in a question explanation, it fascinated me.  Imagine having no idea how the people around you relate to you, wondering if the person standing in front of you could be perhaps your spouse of half a century or a complete stranger, seeking any hint that might help you grasp the reality of the people around you.  Summoning this state of mind is impossible, but in some ways it seems an exaggeration of what we already do every day.  Of course this is untrue of people we see every day, whose faces are as intimate to us as is the geography of our own thoughts, but think of someone who is an acquaintance, walking into work with a new haircut—and you scarcely recognise them.  Or think of the singular experience of leaning your head back against the wall and closing your eyes after having a few glasses of wine whilst out with friends; your auditory sense, elevated almost to hyperacusis, drenches the landscape of your senses.  And everyone knows the experience of enjoying a meal, especially in the company of friends, to the exclusion of the entire rest of the world—sometimes so complete as to produce surprise when realisation of the outside world returns.

How do we allow our environment determine which senses rise above others?  Is this an essential part of dealing with almost limitless stimulation to all of our senses?  I wonder how our brains decide which details to rise to the surface of a picture we examine or a room into which we walk.  How, too, do we study others, and which parts of them impress us enough to stay in our memory and to be drawn up again when we next see them?  The scientific answers to these questions are, I am sure, numerous and possibly intriguing, but I think the questions, and most of all the act of this questioning, will always be more interesting.

To accompany my thoughts, I started drinking a new coffee.  Dark and delicious, it exudes richness and silkyness, and it reminds me of the French roast I picked up last year at Porto Rico, an excellent unpretentious wooden closet of a tea and coffee store that feels like wandering into the store room of a ship that has visited distant lands.  Giant burlap sacks of coffee beans lounge on the floor, veritable robber barons who seem to be discussing which tea lady on the shelf is the finest.  Back to the current bean: often, after I have finished my one very strong cup—more than one cup would probably throw me into a panic attack—my French press keeps the scent around for an hour, and it smells so good.  If someone made a Frenchy French candle, I would consider buying it, but I will probably just tape a coffee bean to my upper lip instead.  If I manage to make it to the Sylvan Esso concert in Pittsboro this summer, I will stop by their roastery and take a nap on a pile of beans.

Usually after that coffee, I must drink plain green tea, but I am running out of that and oolong is quite gentle, so here is a note about a particularly good one.

Butterfly of Taiwan
If the Satemwa oolong smelled like hay, butterfly is like someone washed the hay, lined up the strands, set it on a Delft plate, and brought it to the parlour for me to sniff.  Pure, clean, and bright, this tea may be the perfect oolong.  It is the colour of honey and probably what honey would choose to be if it were a tea.  The tasting notes aver that the tea liquor has an aroma of ‘waxed wood’, which I do not understand, but otherwise I agree with the seemingly random adjectives that somehow make perfect sense after you taste it.  In this way, tasting tea differs from tasting wine.  If someone told you that a wine was redolent of ‘quince cheese’, you would look askance at the dotty and possibly intoxicated speaker, but I am sure there is a quince for every tea, or something like that.  Another advantage that tea has over wine is the various entities—the leaves, infusion, and liquor all demand their own description, and thinking about them separately gives insight, perhaps, into my habit of sniffing tea.  (I am not sure why I am bashing wine, except perhaps that it is absent from my table these days.)  The tea notes also say that it pairs well with pies, quiche Lorraine, and plum desserts, so I will be waiting if anyone wishes to drop one off for safekeeping.


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