Rima and Tom (not forgetting their otherwordly companion, Macha the lurcher) came to visit us this weekend and a fine time was had by all. They brought a bit of Devon (our homeland and source of much longing) with them - some mead, fudge and cheese - and we showed them some of the delights of Oxford, starting with the canal, which is currently fringed with hedge garlic, freshly leaved willows and birdsong.
Oxford is a beautiful place to live, but after a while you get a bit jaded and stop seeing. Guests make you look again. There are treasures everywhere. On the rooftops:
In the museums (an Indian 'map' of the cosmos, since you asked):
And especially in the Pitt Rivers museum, (a Noh mask that forms a salutory warning to us all):
In the evening we went out to a secret spot nearby. Nomi hung up some bunting and lit lanterns in the trees.
A waxing moon lit the gloaming.
And we did what you are supposed to do around a fire. We played music, homegrown and other: Breton, Balkan, and the occasional bhajan. Rima and Tom delighted us with Eastern Gypsy tunes from Russia and Poland. Nothing captures the beautiful ache of outsiderness as much as an accordion and clarinet, played in the small hours round a well-tended fire. We were liminal vagabonds, aesthetic pilgrims, children of the hedge.
In this modern, consumer world of ours, they haven't just papered over the cracks, they've grouted them in. There's so little space to be. They've made it harder and harder for anyone to live as artists: you know, old fashioned romantics who make music or poetry or art from a sense of calling. Because we have to no matter what comes of it. The worth of what we do can't be measured or quantified or assessed but it matters nonetheless. The agelasts don't know it but they need us.
Liminal vagabondage is a tough path to tread. It brings riches beyond compare, though scarcely any money. But there never was a choice. What a gift to be reminded of this by such wonderful friends and in such a wonderful place.