We are rolling through the Slovinian alps and I'm listening to Joni Mitchell's Court and Spark on my iPod-- "I'm always running behind the times, just like this train..." and the 1970s lyrics are lining up perfectly with the way I'm feeling in the summer of 2014, writing in my old-time travel journal, reading poetry, talking on and off with my wife as the hours click past ("settle into the clickity-clack..."). I'm feeling quite old school, two weeks without email, looking out the wide window and occasionally taking pictures:
And other times just of how the light falls Or some strange track-side architecture Or red locomotives on another track headed the other way
Or an alpine valley so deep and beautiful I want crawl out the window
Sometimes I draw little pictures of things I see in the distance so I can remember-- churches with steeples the shape of onions, signs, the contrast between mountains and sky.
Other times I just keep notes, writing down lines of poems I'm reading from a book of poems by Tim Liburn and start thinking about one of his ideas: "homesteading in otherness." I'm trying this homesteading as I move through this landscape, using my journal as a way to settle for a moment on what passes, what shifts by in the window square. Tim Lilburn's all about attention and so in the margins of my journal I write down the name of every station we pass through and how many hours we've come since Frankfurt, and how many we still have to go before we get to Zagreb: Jesenice, Lesce-Bled, Krang, and Ljububljana: This is the beginning of two weeks of travel, and I plan to blog it when I return, so I'm taking good notes and thinking about it all as I go. The destination is Croatia and everyone is interested in why we're going there. Mostly it's because of the beauty and the surprise of new places. But I'll try to go deeper than that as we move along. It's also because I haven't ever been this deep into Europe and I want to see it to feel it. Tomorrow we'll be on a train again this time bound for Split on the Adriatic Sea. When we get there we'll be "scraping into town with the brakes complaining," just like Joni says. For now it's just Slovenian valleys after valleys opening up like doors. This one reminds me of Yosemite and I wonder what's over there beyond that anvil of a mountain. Maybe next time we'll get off here and go up there. Until then it's onward toward Croatia!