anghara (anghara) wrote,

Question #2

eneit asks

Kipling's one spot beloved over all; what's yours?\

I haven't Kippled lately, and the precise reference escapes me - but I am guessing you want to know what my favourite spot in the whole world is...?

I think I leave a piece of myself in every place that I've been which has meant something to me - little shadow selves, haunting the earth and the sky and the bricks and the streets and the valleys and the mountains which have somehow found their way into my memory and my affection, guarding them against harm like some quiet little guardian angel.

If you want to know my favourite city, it's London - I've always felt so absolutely at home in London, as though I had been there forever, as though I knew its busy streets and elegant sweeps of Georgian architecture and the little cobbled alleys that unwind unexpectedly behind busy major thoroughfares with streaming traffic of cars and red double deckers. I love the atmosphere of the wood-pannelled pubs, I even love the taste of English bitter (soryy, Americans - no cold Budweisers for me). I love listening to people talk, from the street cockney to the passing posh Sloanes out on the lam. Love the place. Love it utterly.

If you want to know what's the latest place I fell in love with, go re-read my Alaska posts [grin]

If you want to know what sky I remember with love, it's Africa's - wide and endless with bright sharp stars undimmed by human lights and dramatic sunsets with silhouettes of savannah trees cutting delicate patterns against it.

If you want to know which of my many houses I love best, that's a little unfair because they all carry their own memories - but I'd have to say that it's this place, my current home, my little paradise in the cedar woods, which I cannot believe I'm lucky enough to be privileged to live in.

But if you want to know heart's home is, and always will be, it's my river. It's the Danube. The great rolling old river that isn't blue in the city where I was born, if it ever WAS blue anywhere - it's full of silt and quicksand and brown whirlpools which I was warned about again and again when I was little - because they could catch and drown a grown man in minutes. The river that smells like wet leaves, and diesel, and rich river mud; the river which is home to giant old catfish with liquid wise eyes; the river which breeds the super-sized India-rubber mosquitoes who are always after my blood (but I forgive the river for this); the river which my Grandfather told me used to freeze so solidly in his day that they held horse-drawn sleigh races on it. The river at the sight of which I weep with something I cannot name for you, every time I return and catch my first glimpse of it.

Straight after the bombings back in 1999, when they took out all the bridges across the Danube and people were left to use ferries to cross over to the other side of the city, some private entrepreneurs saw an opportunity and brought in these dinky little cockleshell boats with which they would offer people alternatives to the crowded and often late ferries. We took one of those boats across the river, myself and my mother and my aunt. I had never been this close to the river god before, not on it, not in the middle of the brown whirlpools which were the monsters of my childhood; the boat was small, and low enough in the water that I could reach out and touch the water if I wanted to. And I did - I put out a hand, and reached out towards the river... and froze there, my fingers just above the waters, unable to make them descent any further. This was an ancient god of my childhood. Touching it would have been sacrilege, and desecration. Some day when I have done some marvellous good deed and am deemed worthy, then I may touch the surface of teh water, and be blessed - someday, in the future, when I finally grow up out of the child who adores this river with an unquestioning and unconditional love. But until that time I can only pray to it, and hope that the old water understands.

I have a tiny glass vial on my bookshelf. It's filled with the water from the Danube. With holy water, if you want. It holds my heart dissolved in it.

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