Monday, June 7, 2010

On the Road (Europe 2010): San Francisco to London--Eastbourne

Arrived safely and not a bad flight either, although, as usual, I was forced to spend much of the time in the dark (by a rather nasty flight attendant). I would rather have had the window open to enjoy the passing scenery, even if only clouds. I saw some spectacular clouds not long after leaving San Francisco—stacked lens-shaped clouds four or five deep. I’ve never seen any quite like them before.  Part of the tedium of the dark flight was relieved by a long conversation with a San Francisco woman I met, a photographer. We talked about many things. I watched one movie (Up in the Air), which I thought only so-so, although the line about the George Clooney character being a “parenthesis” was a good one.

Met Jonathan at the airport. We were in Eastbourne by early afternoon, via Brighton. I really enjoyed a walk at Beachy Head and Birling Gap. The cliffs of chalk are part of the same formation as at Dover. Here narrow bands of brownish black flint interrupt the white chalk. 

The rapidly eroding cliffs leave a litter of both on the beach. Some are soft lumps of chalk that quickly dissolve into the ocean. What remains are worn nodules of flint, many beautifully shaped and colored. I picked up one that could easily pass as a maquette for a Henry Moore sculpture. I hear Henry Moore spent time here, along with many other artists and writers. Was he inspired?Another chunk of flint reminded me of Ben Nicholson, some reminded me of the paintings of Morandi. Beautiful. Art is truly all around us.

While driving, I got a peculiar satisfaction from seeing starlings and house sparrows where they belong, in Europe. I also saw wood pigeons and some sort of kite flying through the trees. Birdsong everywhere. Jet lag particularly bad this time. 

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