First, I’ll Eat the Chicken, Then I’ll Seek Berlin

Why is it, I wonder, that barren-leafed, fog-enshrouded forests seem simultaneously menacing and inviting? Why does being surrounded by a forest of hazy, blurry, naked trees—their trunks erect and tall—give me a sense that the indistinct distance is hiding both comfort and danger? Perhaps it is the use of such scenes, in television and film, that reinforces that inexplicable duality. Last night’s concluding episodes of Public Enemy (Ennemi public), like most of the rest of the three-season show, used the mysteries of dim forests to powerful effect. Several other European films and television series I have watched in the past few years incorporate that sort of scenery to convey both mystery and the threat of unknown, but lethal, danger. In my opinion, Scandinavian (and various other European filmmakers) cinematographers are much more skilled than most of their American counterparts at using low light, fog, and nondescript flora to establish those sinister moods.

But back to my own mind, and its readiness to bend to the will of filmmakers. It is not just the filmmakers, though. It is the very real environment right outside my window. It is the atmosphere that envelopes the house in which I live. My brain willingly sees the fog as deliberately hiding unknown, but fascinating, threats and dangers. In fact, I seem to thrive on the dim, distant recesses of the woodlands. The inexplicably chilling haze that hides…something…or nothing. I do not know what’s “out there.” Whatever it is, though, I am drawn to it, but more than a little cautious about approaching it. I hesitate to leave the safety of my house and venture into a place over which I have no control. Inside, I can control the lights and the temperature and the volume of sounds emanating from speakers. Outside, I have no such control; my experience is at the discretion of Nature or something else I can neither name nor whose form and power I cannot fully comprehend. Yet perhaps this emotion—fear or worry or a cousin of one or both—is blatantly absurd. Silly in the extreme. Superstition transformed into unfathomable uncertainty. That does it. I will stay inside until the day brightens.


My morning ritual started quite late; after 6:30. We were up last night until nearly midnight, finishing up our marathon of watching Public Enemy. So, I began writing much later than normal. Then, Chubbs the pug and her doting human companion (my late wife’s sister) dropped by for coffee and conversation until it was time for us to leave for church. Today was an “Insight” Sunday, with an interesting speaker (Brian Rodgers) of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock. He spoke on Black Business People in Arkansas from 1865 to 1920. I learned a great deal from his presentation and post-talk dialogue with those who stayed for the conversation. I am becoming increasingly intrigued to learn about the lives and contributions to society made by “everyday” people who lived in challenging times—especially people whose names may be unknown to me but whose impacts on history were/are enormously important.


I am home now, and hungry. Despite having broken many dietary rules and ignored their oppressive restrictions, I ate three chocolate chip cookies and one Rice Krispie Treat at church, made by a very nice woman who apparently enjoys tempting me with irresistible edibles. Though I imagine my blood glucose measurement tomorrow morning will be monstrously high, I thoroughly enjoyed yielding to the diversion, as she laid the trap to seduce me into inappropriate but gloriously pleasurable gustatory behavior.


Speaking of food, I will now enjoy a bit of roasted chicken, some compari tomatoes, and perhaps some cucumbers and/or pickles. That will have to hold me until dinner, when we will again eat smoked pork loin, cucumbers (probably), and tomatoes. I probably will have some sugar-free orange flavored Jello for dessert.


Tomorrow, I’ll be off to Schwab and Costco. And I will consider cleaning my car and trying to reshuffle and organize the garage. Life is relatively easy, but not as energizing as it could be if I were to hit the road for a long and enjoyable road trip. First, though, lunch at home. Lunch is a good idea. Maybe a drive to Berlin will cure my wanderlust.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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