#17 Hinton-St George, Ellis Island, Roman Empire & Europe

December 12, 2017

Originally intended as a small book, “Glimpses: In which a Casual Traveler Ruminates on Passing Scenes—1989-2011″, I should like to share it with my readers in a more informal manner as a series of Blogs. 

church-Hinton-St-GeorgeEngland: Hinton-St. George: Visited with the Cannings (Jo and Rick), a hardy couple that seemed to love taking us to “sights” — Winchester, Bath, Avebury (a miniature Stonehenge, which we visited at a later time when we were off on our own), etc. They had their hiking shoes stashed permanently in the “boot” of their car, ready at a moment’s notice to hop out to show us something (most often something up some hill, until I blurted out — when I caught my breath — “Don’t you have any downhill sites?”). Spent an afternoon with Jo Canning’s parents who lived nearby; they took us to lunch where we had the most delicious bread-pudding we’d ever tasted. Later, they took us to a small church to show us its stain-glass windows and told us one of the most charming “WWII” stories about them. Seems a German pilot had been shot down and held prisoner on a local farm. Pleased with how good the townspeople had treated him, he promised that if he ever got back home, he’d have his father — an accomplished worker in stained-glass — send them a window for their church after the war. More than good to his word, the townsfolk were delighted when, not one, but six beautiful windows arrived some time after the war ended — all of which still grace their charming little church.

trunks-ellis-islandUSA: Ellis Island: It was the wicker traveling “trunks” that got to me. Imagine placing your valuables in such a fragile container and striking out on a voyage to a new country! What faith our forebears must have had in the promise of America!

Europe: I’m referring to the whole European scene here: In pretty nearly every country in Europe we were constantly coming across remains and footsteps of the Roman Empire — walls, roads, buildings, artifacts, ruins, traces, sites, amphitheaters, etc.,, etc., etc.

roman-road-cologne-germany

Roman Road in Cologne Germany

Amazing to see and learn of just how far the Empire extended its footprint (and left it!) almost all over the continent. Better than in any book or classroom, a vast sense of history is there for the curious onlooker! Wow!

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Glimpses #1: Germany, Italy

October 2, 2016

Originally intended as a small book, “Glimpses: In which a Casual Traveler Ruminates on Passing Scenes—1989-2011”, I should like to share it with my readers in a more informal manner as a series of Blogs.

Ranging across some distance around the globe including Europe, Asia —and closer to “home”—Canada and Barbados, in addition to these ‘hosting’ countries, I’d like to acknowledge the following friends and hosts (as well as countless clerks, guides, porters, fellow travelers—in brief, all those unnamed but not forgotten people in Japan, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Austria whose helpful presence often eased the hassles of travel): Heinrich J., Konstanze and Christian Jarczyk, Jacky Sparkowsky and Jorg Iwan, Gaby and Norman Wittmer (Germany); Piero Augustus Breccia (Italy); Chen Chi and Zu Min, Jason and Crystal ((college students)), Xue Jianhua and Shao Li Ke (China); Ann Mamok, Rick and Jo Canning (England); Isabel and Bertrand Azema (France); Laslo Fesus (Hungary); Barbara and Ronnie Gill (Barbados).

A note to the reader: I have not included dates in separate entries since most of these recollections have been gleaned months — if not years — after their occurrence, not a few popping into my mind during sleepless nights long after I had returned home from my travels.

Included will be some of my paintings & sketches as well as some photographs taken by Cornelia Seckel.

Gardens as seen from the trains in Germany

Gardens as seen from the trains in Germany

Germany: On a train from Cologne to Berlin: small, enclosed garden plots, many with tiny buildings (for the storage of tools?), most with a sitting area containing a bench, followed by open fields and larger farms. Such plots also flashed by my window in China and Japan, each time before and after the environs of large towns or cities. Do city/town dwellers come out here to these tiny, well-tended gardens on evenings and weekends? Does man ever fully divorce himself from the land? Stop putting his hands into the soil? What happens when he does?

Italy: Rome: Waiting at a bus-stop. Having just missed a bus on our way to Piero’s studio (where we were staying), we put down our packages to await the next. How long? We notice a church across the street. Why not? We enter and are astounded to discover that it contains Bernini’s “Ecstasy of St.Theresa”. No signs to give a clue! How many other hidden treasures have I blithely passed by on my way elsewhere? (Note: Pier ((Piero)) Augusto Breccia is an artist I met in NYC and whom I wrote about in ART TIMES).