Today the BRASA conference begins, but we have a few hours to explore before the opening ceremonies. There are so many iconic places and views in London, and we are continually stopping to take photos and marvel at our surroundings. At the conference opening we chat with the Brazilian musicians who are playing there, run into the author of one of the first books on Brazilian music I ever read. Tomorrow the paper presentations begin, including mine.We head back to the hotel, my head swimming with all the sights and sounds of today.
Really– would you expect it? A giant blue chicken in Trafalgar Square in the midst of statues of war heroes and buildings from centuries ago. It arrived a bit more than a year ago, and shows the delightful sense of Brit irony in the midst of all the weighty history memorialized everywhere one turns. A good night’s sleep has us back on our feet again, and today we are out in the streets of London, walking, photographing, exploring. We start at Abbey Road–making the historic cross along with many other Beatles lovers. We continue on to the village of Hampstead, walk across the heath to the equally charming village of Highgate, take a tube back to city center, and wind up at the blue chicken. A huge day of walking as we align ourselves with this new city– our home for the next few days.
It kindof feels like Alice down the rabbit hole. Up all night and continuing on into the early-arriving day. Maneuver through customs, onto the tube with newly purchased passes, arrive at our hotel in Bloomsbury, sign in and stash bags. But we’ll have no room for hours so we wander the streets entranced, exhausted by turns. London, as far as we can see. We have flown across the Atlantic and landed here for a week. And the newness of everything refreshes our weary eyes and makes us smile.
It’s mid-August in the garden. The late summer flowers are in bloom, and the tomatoes are starting to ripen. I hate to leave this calm sanctuary, but I am giving a paper on Brazilian music in London at the BRASA conference next week. And as soon as I’m back the new semester will begin. So I am working, typing, getting ready for the events to come. The present is sadly subsumed in preparing for the future.