January 21st, 2006

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

Things seen, things observed, things experienced

Went out for breakfast, as we usually do on Saturdays. Chose Fairhaven this time (it's a game in this household - the person who gets in first with "so, where are we going to breakfast on Saturday?" gets to make the other person choose - this time I wanted to go get more yarn for my afghan so we went to Fairhaven, where the wool shop is).

It's January, okay? So why are all the hyacinths in all the planters blooming like crazy out in Fairhaven? The air is scented with them as you walk up the street to the yarn shop, thick with them, it's like I can smell April in January. It's heady stuff. I love those things, I associate them very strongly with the grandmother whom I loved so very much and whom I lost nearly twenty years ago now; every time I smell hyacintths I think of her, and it's because of her that my own garden is stuffed with hyacinth bulbs - but mine are only just beginning to poke noses out of the ground and in Fairhaven they all seem to have popped a week ago and the whole place is awash with them.

It's disconcerting, that's what it is.

Meanwhile, I was watching one of the waitresses in the Skylark Cafe, where we went for breakfast, and she had this long thick chocolate-brown braid reaching down to her butt, and I wanted her hair, but BADLY - but I digress. WHat that made me do was suddenly start watching the women in the cafe and those passing out in the street, and within ten minutes I had seen it all - curls, straight hair, shoulder length bobs, gamine cuts, waist-length hair done up in ponytails, upswept buns, long hair short hair and everything in between. I remarked to rdeck how this has really only been a phenomenon, in the cultures that I am familiar with at least, from - oh - let's say the 1920's when the flappers first cut their hair - before that, women had long hair, period. They wore it down when they were girls, and then, at some strictly specified age, they were allowed to "put up their hair" and they were officially women. In earlier days still, medieval women wore their hair braided or covered - only virgins and queens were allowed to wear their hair down and flowing free. Now, it's anything goes - and it's amazing how much hair is a telltale of personality. I watched two women at a table next to ours - one was a comfrotable rather plump blonde with nondesript curly hair down to just below her earlobes, the kind you couldn't(as I now can't) describe five minutes after you finished looking at it except that it was sort of THIS long (indicating your ears) and that it was blonde, and that it was generically curly. She looked like someone's mom, or a grade school teacher, or a wife who had quit her office job when she got married fifteen years ago and didn't figure that she needed to go to her hairdresser every week after that. She looked easy, comfortable, the kind of woman who knows her way around skinned knees and recipes for brownies. Her companion was wearing what was almost but not quite a power suit - certainly some sort of tailored outfit, her hair was CROPPED, tight to her skull, and her features were thrown into prominence - and they were strong features, made almost harsh by the haircut, a prominent nose, high cheekbones, deepset eyes. She was the headmistress rather than the school nurse, she dealt with higher transgressions and meted out consequences, and she didn't look like she liked thinking about rolilng up those perfect sleeves and getting her hands mucky with dough. (And all this is just from hair - I hadn't even LOOKED at their hands, which are even more of a giveaway).

People watching is a fascinating thing.

And speaking of hands, there was this one forlorn glove - black moleskin, with a wrist-collar of fake black fur - placed carefully on a protruding bit of wall beside the sidewalk - a single lost glove, too good to throw away, too useless to steal, just left there prominently in the hope that it might call its mate back to it. I wished I had my camera with me, there was something vaguely surreal about that single elegant black glove lying there forlornly surrounded by blooming hyacinths.

And now I REALLY have to get back to my novel...