Mamihlapinatapei: Yagán, Indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego, Chile: “a meaningful look shared by two people expressing mutual unstated feelings.” It describes a look in which each person is hoping that the other will initiate something that they both desire, but which neither person wants to start.
Yagán or Yámana is a language isolate, meaning that it’s a “natural language with no demonstrable genealogical (or “genetic”) relationship with other living languages”. There are only two living people who speak this language.
The tallest tree in the world is in the witness protection program. Apparently, the previous tree to garner that title almost died, as tall-tree admirers made pilgrimages and (inevitably) hugged the tree so much that it nearly fell over. You see, redwood trees actually have incredibly shallow and delicate roots, which is hard to believe if you’ve ever stood under a redwood and had to crane your neck at an awkward angle to see the astonishing end of it. This sort of reminds me of Hemingway’s iceberg theory, in which he principally states
I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows.
Except that in this case, what we can’t see (or comprehend) is the redwood’s overwhelming fragility. Strange how our perceptions of strength work.
Anyhow. I’ve been thinking of landscape, and how it defines people, how it shapes one’s identity. Which brought me to the two places that I would define as the true north of home for myself: Humboldt County, CA, and New Orleans, LA. And, as usual, I’ve obsessively tried to fit them into Edmund Burke’s philosophy of the sublime and the beautiful. They are so different, but somewhere in Humboldt’s physical vastness and New Orleans’ abyss of intensity they meet. There is something almost visceral about the air in both places. I’ve tried to write about the sublimity (poorly!) of New Orleans many, many times. Humboldt, for me, evokes emotional safety, softness, and a sense of being a million miles from anything. New Orleans is emotional volatility, it is addiction, it is a history and air so thick you can cut it. And year after year, due to some mysterious magnetic field, I am pulled back to both places. And inevitably, I cry whenever my feet touch the ground of either one, because I am home.