Seven months of daily posts now, with very few days of staring at the blank screen wondering what words to string together. In fact, I can’t remember a single day when I was stuck for a topic. If I felt slightly unsure any time, I just had to stare at a photo of the mountain, or better yet, at the mountain itself, and the topic would present itself. Tauntingly so, in fact. Head cocked to the side, one hand on the hip, a sneering grin on the face as it spit at me, practically: “What took you so long?”
Well now, it’s the first day of August, a month that, in Europe at least, has been traditionally one of vacations. Seems my topic generator packed its bags, saddled up on its bike – and I bet it’s a nice bike … maybe even a new Bianchi Oltre XR – and rode out of town. How very European of it. Including its laissez-faire attitude toward lining up experienced and confident relief topic generators during its absence.
It’s eerily quiet in the house, as it is outside. The construction noises up the hill and the whine of leaf blowers down the hill have gone silent, as if we had been transported to the hills of Umbria back in the twentieth century when the observance of siesta wasn’t just a matter of habit but a case for calling the cops if someone broke it with the slightest noise. And by noise I mean any sound, even the pleasant kind. I know this for a fact, because back in the 1990s, when I spent the better part of a summer in Spoleto, the locals called the police whenever the American opera students at the music school kept on practicing through the siesta hours. That they were singing Italian arias was no mitigating factor in the lodging of complaints or the warnings issued to them in the wake of these complaints.
Maybe my topic generator is toying with me out of simple boredom. Maybe it’s still sitting here, in plain sight, were not for the camouflage fatigues of those old associations with August as the time for making the most of absences. Yes, the topic is the need for a vacation. Or more to the point, for the space a vacation makes for silence.
But I am running an experiment here, one that won’t allow for the choice of silence. The stress being on “choice,” because all sorts of unforeseen circumstances could cut short this daily accounting of a year by Mt. Tam. In the light of this, the silence I crave I have to carve inside the spaces between the words I must string together. Nearly 500 words, too, just to talk about the need for a little silence…. Go figure.