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Winter Holiday #

Monday January 11th, snow eroding from roofs and pavements, still freezing; thick low skies

Correction. There aren't any actual hippies in Dhalgren. Your hippie is, or was originally, a hard-core radical political animal, with all that implies in range from idiot, corrupt freeloader to dedicated selfless visionary. In Dhalgren there's only a "commune" of clueless flower-children getting back to nature in the park. They have several hapless projects (weaving, washing their own clothes) and are held up to derision for same, but the "coffee out of the beans" reference really comes from Philip Marsden's Polish Travel/Memoir The Bronski House, it's the report of a former Polish aristocrat, looking back long afterwards to the days when she was young and her world collapsed around her ears. The day when the servants were gone, and the family were left staring at these small, hard brown objects, with literally no idea how to transform them into that rich, comforting dark liquid which always used to appear in a silver pot. . . The connection being about people who are completely unaware that they are helpless parasistes on a mightily unfair system. Come to think of it, I also reccomend The Spirit Wrestlers, Marsden's Russian book, same kind of deep cultural exploration in form of travelogue.

Yesterday, blizzards having failed to materialise, Peter and I took the bus out to Stanmer Park. A whole lot of people were tobogganning on the east slopes, we went for a walk in the woods instead and I'm glad we took the road less travelled. Our last snow was freezing as it fell, and there wasn't enough wind to drift but enough to drive it gently: every tree, every branch, every twig was burdened with white, flags and plumes, and the woods went on and on, everything familiar looking different, we went round and round, up along the ridge, managed to lose ourselves at least once: meanwhile discussing quite seriously whether we should take a shovel, rugs, a torch, water and food in the car, when we made our daring expedition north. Maybe the mediafolk are right, and what looks like a harmless winter day is just trying to fool us. . . These woods, esp the part that used to be Stanmer Great Wood, are nearly all young growth, dated by the hurricane of 87, which flattened nearly everything. Every so often a fragment of the old great beech vistas survives.

We decided against the blankets and thermos. Those mediafolk are insane. Now Gabriel is back in London, and the Winter Holidays are over.

Since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

For me, by Houseman's reckoning, that figure should now be twenty. All the more reason to waste nothing.