Tuesday, December 28, 2010


A friend on Facebook described this week, the week after Christmas but before New Year's Day, as a "limbic" week. I don't disagree, although the word "limbic" smacks too much, to me, of fear and spinal cords. I prefer "lambent." As in effulgent, aglow, alight. The world has whitened up and quieted down. The year is playing out and gathering in. Where are you in all of this?

I'm tromping. Tromping is an activity distinct from, although related to, walking. You walk to get somewhere (the store) or something (svelte buns). You walk easily; the air parts around you; you barely break a sweat.

Tromping is the kind of thing you do to no purpose by yourself in the snow. It's early, so I fight with my family and tromp down to the graveyard. It's late, so I tromp past the empty storefronts toward a particular bend in the road. There's resistance involved in tromping: you push through, breathe hard, keep going.

I take care, too, to touch all the secret places, all the little nowheres that offer themselves to the dedicated tromper. The secret sidewalk joining one dead end street to another. The backyard you can cut through to get from one neighborhood to the next. They alley through which you have a straight shot at the courthouse. The hidden graveyard. The house in which, two owners ago, you stayed up the whole white night.

What good is all of this, the minutiae of place? No one but a native would know what you're supposed to do in that fountain, what store used to be there, what field was divvied into condos. To me, the town where I grew up is hypertextual, every house (street, tree, sidewalk) linked to a memory. But what's the prize? What can I do, as a native, that you can't? So I know a two-second shortcut: Where's my cookie?

Plain text is simpler. But you're born where you're born, and I'll keep tromping through it all this last, long, limbic, lambent week of the year.


Mara said...

What in the world is a svelte bun?

I miss tromping. The closest you can come in cold, rainy Rome is trudging--not the same thing at all.

Anne said...

I really admire that distinction, Margaret. And congrats, again!