I. Here’s What Happened
The first agreement is to be impeccable with your word. And, much like their affinity for tacos, Norwegians appear to take this bit of Mexican wisdom (well, Toltec) very seriously. Because, up north in Scandinavia, where those three nordic spoons — Norway, Sweden, Finland — all meet, is Mount Halti. A fell (from old Norse fjall; “mountain”) that wonkily straddles Norway and Finland, rising 4,478 feet above sea level. While many around the world probably scoff at this altitude, that’s as high as you can get in Suomi. Halti, short for Haltiatunturi, is its greatest elevation.
It was the summer of 2016. The last week of it, actually, when I began to notice that shaving my neck and right cheek had become seriously painful.
This was when I worked at Camp, up on Minnesota’s Iron Range, and being at Camp is being never fully put together. Not for the worst, to be sure. It’s definitely the best version of a half-assembled life. One that begins and ends with accepting that, every single day, when you walk out your cabin door you’re going to get dirty. A person gets all kinds of scrapes, bumps, blemishes, splotches, cuts…
(Preface: Lots of personal favorites in this one, I notice. Sources: my brain, Miles Harvey’s The Island of Lost Maps, pp. 19–20.)
Patagonia the company is, of course, named after Patagonia the region. That part of South America belonging to Chile and Argentina, generally lying south of the Rio Negro. The word is a toponym; a place name. And, toponyms just happen to be my favorite kind words to shove me down that delightful rabbit hole called etymology. Coming to mind is my personal favorite, which I like to emphasize when ever I can, especially on two Sunday’s a year…
“Hello Sir! Welcome to my shop — how can I help you?”
“Well, I’ve decided to try out a… as you can see I need one of your…”
“Yes, yes I see, no worries — happy to help. Anything specific you’re looking for?”
“Nothing fancy. I don’t want to draw any attention to it, you know? Like a lighter brunette, I guess.”
“Excellent — Let me see what I’ve got in the back.”
“Okay, thank you.”
• • •
“All right — how’s this?”
“Um… that’s not exactly what I had in mind.”
“I know, but I think it’d look…
(Preface: Cards on the table, metaphors kinda got away from me in this one. It’s definitely a mosaic down there. Here:)
Years ago now — I say years like it was ages, it was maybe three — I bought a bamboo plant from Walgreens at the corner of University and Downing. Franklin, I named it.
Franklin was three (two?) stalks of bamboo, set in a ceramic pot, decorated with munching pandas with varying degrees of anatomical correctness. Inside, stabilizing the shoots, was a heap of little white pebbles. I’m not sure what kind — does quartz come in pebbles? …
Recently, the Province of Québec, and City of Montréal, have been wanting to revamp the Francophon-ity of the City. In a perfect world, in solidarity with them, I’d write this in French but, alas, here is what a conversation written using my knowledge of the language looks like:
‹‹ Bonjour. ››
‹‹ Oui. ››
‹‹ Non c’est une pomme! ››
‹‹ Moi aussi. ››
‹‹ Non. ››
‹‹ Merci beaucoup. ››
While I can’t help out from a language standpoint, I do have a, perhaps unwelcome, suggestion on where to start upending some Anglo-isms: the flag.
I’ve got some anecdotes for ya | Geography and Vexillology nerd | Adventurer and explorer by heart | Sometimes people laugh ;)