Vultures + Persimmons

by Angeliska on November 26, 2010

Yesterday afternoon, we made the journey over hill and dale on the first
of our familial holiday pilgrimages. I hear all the time complaints about
the lack of seasons in Texas, and our pitiful lack of autumn – untrue, I say!
The oaks are wearing russet cloaks, the sumacs scarlet, and the fields
are molten gold with fat hillocks of hay. It is indescribably lovely.
Having just witnessed the glory of a flaming October in Vermont, I can
admit it’s true that we are less majestic, less postcard-worthy, though
there is a peculiar magic in these hills and groves that I adore. Maybe
it’s my fondness for jolie-laide, for things that aren’t unapproachably
perfect – the crooked teeth in the landscape, the broken noses of
cruddy clapboard houses along desolate highways. It’s a hard-won
beauty. You have to squint, look closely, and be willing to wander
in creek-bottoms and over barbed wire fences sometimes to find it.
You have to be willing to get your hands dirty – but when you do,
it’s that much sweeter for it. Beauty that comes too easy makes me
skittish. It dazzles me, and I just gape like a filthy child at a shiny shop
window. It’s hard for me to feel like I have a place in all of that, I guess.
Like kissing someone so outrageously gorgeous that you can hardly
believe they even exist on the same planet as you. I revel in imperfections
and anomalies. They make me feel at more at home, somehow.
You see strange things hurl past you at high speeds on those backroads.
Faded signs whose obsolete messages you still struggle to make out,
beautiful abandoned houses, and dead trees that read as sculpture against
the big sky – black-limbed and bony, reaching up in agony with hundreds
of twisted wooden witch-fingers. I wish all the time that I could just bring them
all home with me to hang blue-bottles from. There’s got to be a way to do that.
I saw an old black limousine with bashed in windows parked in the middle of
a tawny cornfield. It looked like a lost still from The Reflecting Skin, and made
me think again of some of my favorite films that take place in the weird liminal
space that is a fallow field. They are all tied together in my mind – that one,
and Tideland, and also Malick’s Days of Heaven and Badlands. All favorite
films of mine, and all masterpieces of wrongness set in tall yellow grass
with decrepit old houses. A lot can happen in the terrifying wide open of
a prairie. That grass can whisper to you of terrible things. All of those films
come from this place, I think:
Christina's World

Turkey buzzards overhead as Amethyst Deceivers played (our traveling
soundtrack was nearly exclusively Coil, both before and more poignantly,
after we learned of dear Unkle Sleazy’s passing…) I saw a giant carrion
bird gleefully gnawing on a smear of roadkill while listening to these lyrics:

Pay your respects to the vultures / for they are your future

I felt happy remembering that – that we are all one day fine feasts
for vultures and worms. I love the completeness of these cycles.
I wish less was wasted – time, material, energy. I wish sky-burial
could happen in Texas as well as Tibet. I’m happy that Sleazy’s
shell will be treated in accordance with his wishes in Thailand
.
It is my dream that one day, we will all be able to complete that
cycle with our bodies, and feed something else with what we
leave behind. Our systems for dealing with death, and our grief
and burial rituals severely need massive restructuring, and soon.

butterfly feast persimmon
Thanksgiving feast for a lone butterfly…

persimmons
…and also for me!

persimmons
I love how persimmon trees look festooned with bright ornaments on cold days.

Thanksgiving
Despite what might seem like morose maunderings, my Thanksgiving was
remarkably sweet and filled with good company, and much comfort and joy.

Thanksgiving
I am extremely blessed to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving twice,
with two amazing families – (both my own, and Colin’s) and to be
able to enjoy caffè corretto alla grappa and discussions about nuclear
physics in the parlour with Colin’s papa, and stay up until 3am talking
about everything under the sun with his mama. They are so lovely.
My own folks also just blow me away with their strength and positivity -
my dad’s dealing with chemotherapy right now, and he’s been taking
it all in stride and maintaining his jovial nature. Send him a good wish,
won’t you? He’d be very grateful to you. I am so thankful to be a part
of such good families, and to be surrounded by so many amazing
friends. I love my life. I am so glad I chose it, and that I get to share it.
Thank you for reading, thank you for being a part of it. Goodnight!

Related posts:
Huexoloti Honey
Russet + Bone
Lone Grove Lullaby

Eulogies for Sleazy:
From Coilhouse – So Long, Sleazy
From John Coulthart – Peter Christopherson, 1955–2010

19 comments

This is a very lovely post :) I too love the oddities and anomalies, the broken-beautiful. Wishing you and yours a warm wonderful celebrating :)

by Rima on November 26, 2010 at 2:49 am. #

“Christina’s World” is one of my very favorite paintings. And those persimmons look positively mythical! Like the Apple of Eden or Persephone’s Pomegranate. Angeliska’s Persimmon.

by Vuk on November 26, 2010 at 4:22 am. #

<3 <3 !!
Oh I love that andrew wyeth painting so. And I think you would really love the film Departures. It is a gorgeous movie about traditional japanese encoffiners, and it made me so wish that I could have a different type of funeral than we have here. I also thought that thing that happens in 6 feet under was terrible and perfect. Thanks for teaching me a new word! I plan to use jolie-laide as often as possible.

by rachel on November 26, 2010 at 6:32 am. #

Lovely post. I really admire that beautiful goddess statue too !

by Snippety on November 26, 2010 at 6:44 am. #

The Reflecting Skin TERRIFIED me what I saw it when I was what…14? And amazingly I also made the connection to Christina’s World. I love the same landscapes you do.

by Nica on November 26, 2010 at 8:07 am. #

Thanks Angel- for your beautiful words. Chris Hay is here with us celebrating my birthday. This morning he offered me orange juice looking like a librarian Gary Oldman. AS USUAL. It’s nice to think of our webs of family and friends- stretching out and joining us together with love.

by Kai Smart on November 26, 2010 at 4:09 pm. #

ah, this is such a beautiful post, angel. i felt a lot of the same feelings as dave and i were driving to and from port a… texas really is such a beautiful place, and i too especially like the desolation aspect.

and, oh, sleazy. :( it shocked me so much, as he was so active and blogging and twittering right before his death. its like something came from the sky and snatched him away from us. and it makes me think of my father, too, who died in thailand and we went the traditional route with his body + i couldn’t be more happy.

<3

by lau on November 26, 2010 at 9:48 pm. #

all good healthy strong thoughts to your papa

by Judy on November 27, 2010 at 12:55 pm. #

~Sweet Pea,
Get yourself the book “Crazy Sexy Cancer” by Kris Carr and check out her website. So much you can do for your Dad to boost his immune system. Email me, been through this gig w/ fam and friends and more than happy to be here. Love and Light to him.
Namaste

by Rose on November 27, 2010 at 5:21 pm. #

Your writing style is fabulous.
I really enjoyed every word.

(positive thoughts to your dad, also)

by SimpleSue on November 27, 2010 at 8:52 pm. #

Tidelands has irrevocably colored the way I view fields like that. I will always, always think of sweet Jeliza Rose, mutilated dolls and rotting Jeff Bridges when I see fields like that.

by Stephanie Alice Roge on November 28, 2010 at 8:08 pm. #

Dear Rima,
Thank you, love – and to you as well!

by Angeliska on November 30, 2010 at 4:13 pm. #

Dear Vuk,
I would love to be the keeper of mystical persimmons! They are one of my most favorite fruits – we have a persimmon tree in our garden, but it’s never produced a single fruit! Maybe one day!

by Angeliska on November 30, 2010 at 4:23 pm. #

Dear Rachel,
I’ve not seen Departures, but I’ve just added it to my list! Thank you for the recommendation – it sounds right up my alley. xoxo

by Angeliska on November 30, 2010 at 4:32 pm. #

Dear Snippety,
Thank you, dear! The goddess belongs to my sweetheart’s mama – she was found at a tag sale, I think. Not sure who the artist is…

by Angeliska on November 30, 2010 at 5:16 pm. #

Dear Nica-pica-tica,
I saw it first at that age too. My favorite part is the bird lady twins! We made the mistake of watching it with my 11 year old fairy-god-daughter. I guess I forgot that the whole movie is just one awful and upsetting horror after another. OOOPS! Her mother was not very happy about it, I think.

by Angeliska on November 30, 2010 at 5:19 pm. #

Kai!
Please grab the tail of Mr. Hay’s bathrobe and tell him hello from me. So glad to be traveling that warm web of far-flung friends with you.

by Angeliska on November 30, 2010 at 5:23 pm. #

Thank you all for your sweet wishes! I will convey them to my papa – they are very much appreciated. oxoxo

by Angeliska on December 2, 2010 at 12:03 am. #

A pleasure to read your post while I visit san antonio. Best wishes to your dad!

by Gabriel on December 13, 2010 at 4:13 pm. #

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