Taste

Considering longings for unknown homelands.

photo of grass field

The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd – The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.” – Fernando Pessoa

If memory is the original fiction, then let me remember the women 

whose warm hands, stained with vegetables, 

tended to Sunday stock, who were unknown 

except to those who ate what they offered, 

and who made what they offered in a haven 

unknown to cameras and reviewers and stars 

of achievement. Let me remember the thrill 

of running along a Normandy coast, 

after mussels when blond wheat covered 

the fields before they gave way to corn, concrete, 

plastic; when necessary meant bread at a midday meal. 

Inspired by this morning’s sighting of Madeline Kamman’s When French Women Cook, a book I discovered about a decade ago in a used bookstore. It’s descriptions of a French countryside that no longer exists created a strange sense of longing, one that I have come to associate with a word I happened to discover around the time I discovered this book. The word, hireath, is a Welsch word with no exact translation in English, was presented to me originally as “longing or homesickness for a place you have not directly known.”  It resounded, in an instant, as one of the dominating feelings of my time on the planet.

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I am here to wonder out loud. The point is not to get a clear answer, a complete picture, but to remember how incomplete the picture is, to embrace the process once again, of discovery, of questions, to notice the stirrings of wonder. To leave crumbs behind, for the next traveler.

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