And Gutenberg Lived Here: Of Kewing Up, Nun and Vampire Cemeteries, And Douglas Adams’ Pens.

Try as I will,

it’s hard for me to realize that

just a couple of days ago,

I was in Kew Garden.

That’s the Royal Botanical Gardens about a half hour by train outside of central London.

And one of my favorite places on this earth.

Now I’m a park person anyway.

Any time we travel to a new area,

the first thing I do is check:

the layout of the town-

square and free-mason style exact, orderly and organized,

like a lot of towns on the prairie,

or

based on local features:

the rivers, a mountain, the ocean.

(In San Francisco, for example, it used to be that bus roads were parallel to the ocean,

to go up and down you had to use a cable car. I know things have changed a bit since I lived there, but…)

(And here in Gutenberg land, the street signs are blue if they are parallel to the Rhine,

red means perpendicular)

Then,

step two,

I check the cemeteries

and photographers’ shops.

You can tell a lot about a town by the way they remember.

The cemeteries in London, for example, are amazing.

In fact, locally they are called the Magnificent Seven,

like the film.

And they contain everything you expect from a cemetery in a large town:

Weeping angels

(was that where Moffit got the idea?)

Marvelously designed architectural marvels of crypts-

for entire families-

sometimes as big as an entire street

(I haven’t seen Douglas Adams’ grave,

in the East section, near the grave of Karl Marx,

but apparently, there is a small pot of the ground for visitors to leave a pen-

I would have left a small tea towel.)

Maybe even with a small Tardis on it, since he wrote their best stories.

In the midwest, we are more conservative.

Usually.

Solid pioneer graves,

well-kept churchyards,

flowers.

Except for the moose ears and fez of certain brotherhoods.

Or a few wonderful statements like

“see, I told you I was sick”

Mostly, though, it is hope,

and belief in the future,

and trust in those left behind.

To do the right thing.

And sometimes, the stones even tell their own stories.

“Take a good look. This is all you get.”

I wonder how they meant that?

Or was he born after the introduction of federal, state, and local taxes?

Who knows?

Then there are the graves here in Gutenberg Land.

Here everything is nicely divided.

By job.

There is a nuns’ cemetery,

we have so many orders here it’s a local game to guess which one the habit shows.

An Academics only.

With learned inscriptions,

usually quotes,

the older ones in latin.

Sports heroes,

A local film star.

A local doctor,

pastor,

school teacher

did good for the community?

A special grave,

and a street named after them.

Several streets in our little village were named for Jewish families,

not uncommon here in “Little Jerusalem,”

which has its own special cemetery section, by the way,

true Gutenberger since the first foundings under the Romans,

and suddenly carted off and killed,

or forced to flee to the States.

I worked for a very short time,

project only,

for the first head of the Gutenberg museum of Book and Printing,

who had been living in the States for many years.

And came back for a quick visit.

And couldn’t really handle the culture shock

of a town that grew up without him.

This happens often here in Gutenberg land.

There’s a local psychiatrist who is specialized in helping returnees.

Then there are the photographers.

There is one in a small village near here

who takes portraits of people exactly as he sees them.

Hair not brushed down,

emphasizing bad teeth,

close-ups of wrinkles.

For some reason, people still go to him.

Mostly for passport photos.

The pictures on the gravestones,

in small silver, glass, and leaded frames to make them waterproof,

are better.

Happy families,

lovely babies.

A strong healthy couple just starting out into life.

Life in death.

And dead-looking pictures in life.

At a photographer’s.

That’s Gutenberg Land for you.

Which brings me back to parks.

And Kew.

And a glorious day spent just wandering under the tree-canopy,

drinking tea in the little tea shop,

then out again to meditate in a huge metal exact-reconstruction of a beehive,

where you walk on a glass floor

and look up at the sky through the hole in the top,

and all the walls light up with thousands of lights when you approach them-

exactly as if you were a bee.

And there is constant absolutely accurate bee humming,

and a machine where you put a popsicle stick in your mouth,

put the other end in a hole in the machine,

and close both ears,

to hear the fighting of two queen bees,

or the sound of the drones hatching.

It’s absolutely fascinating.

And well worth an afternoon,

to get that kind of educational experience.

And quiet meditation time.

In public, no less.

Even though the pictures of large groups of adults,

popsicle stick in mouths,

fingers in their ears,

is not something I will easily forget.

Nor the fact that for weeks I have been plagued with sudden unexpected cravings

for bread with honey.

I wonder if it has something to do with Harald humming Procul Harem?

copyright dunnasead.co 2016

5 Comments

  1. I’ve actually went to Kew Gardens many years ago when I visited London. I don’t remember much about it except that I enjoyed the experience. I also bought a CD called something like “Celtic Classics by Turlough O’Carolan” at a gift shop there. I remember because it was one of my favorites for a long time and I often played it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. seriously? it was some person’s (people”s) job to make laura croft’s boobies wiggle???
    what is this world coming to.
    and I had no idea you have a southern accent y’all.
    I think of you as a quick talking (quick writing) easterner who never takes a breath! LOLOL!
    there is nothing of the syrupy slow drawl in your writing. or your thinking. it’s more free flow staccato.
    did I spell that right? 🙂
    how I loved reading about your adventures in london. especially the london cabbie.
    I dare not think of all the changes since I’ve last been there. It was well before 9/ll.
    and the streets were always CROWDED! but the marine and I walked all over it.
    my favorites were always the parks. those gorgeous green spaces glimpsed at the end or around the corner of every block it seemed. I fell in love on the spot.

    Like

    1. thanks for writing, Tammy. And I agree with you. There is nothing better than patches of green and flowers everywhere. especially with paid gardeners I don’t have to pay. As to the southern-southern Illinois- more melodic than the east, more flow, but not really a drawl. and yes, we do y’all. as to the breathing, when you sing, your breath is long, deep, slow, and very very controlled. the question is, what do you do with the breath, which is life to the music. or the person. ie. staccato. or Mozart. Or Puccini. and as to the Lara Croft thing, my dearest friend’s husband. and she is a feminist. maybe that’s why they gave it to him. glad to see you here.

      Like

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