Wouldn't you know it. I think we saw this sign at a gas station somewhere in Vermont. It's good to know, though, that air, at times at least, is still free. This put me in mind of "Free Dirt" signs I recall seeing in Mississippi on my way to New Orleans. I suppose if air and dirt are free, there's still hope.
We found these Russian musicians near the entrance to the Rijksmuseum, playing classical music. They were really good, so we bought their CD. Notice the young woman playing the Mother of All Balalaikas. Pretty impressive. I couldn't help wondering what their story was. Why had they left their homeland? Whenever I'm tempted to think of people from a country in a political or stereotypical way, I'm often reminded that people are not their country, are not defined by it. This was one of those times.
Amsterdam View, August 2018
Here's a classic view of an Amsterdam canal. Of course there's the bicycles, which are everywhere. A tip: don't walk on the bike paths (We made the mistake of doing this near our hotel in the leafy suburb of Amstelveen). We learned quickly though, after getting yelled at, and nearly run over, by several Dutch cyclists. Not long ago the Dutch decided there were too many tourists in Amsterdam, so started to discourage the hordes. Be careful what you wish for comes to mind. I wonder if they'll have to start courting visitors, now that Covid-19 has pretty much shut down tourism.
Don’t you know the poems of Han-shan?
They’re better for you than scripture-reading.
Cut them out and paste them on a screen,
Then you can gaze at them from time to time.
Men who see the Master
Of Cold Mountain, say he’s mad.
A nothing face,
Body clothed in rags.
Who dare say what he says?
When he speaks we can’t understand.
Just one word to you who pass –
Take the trail to Cold Mountain!
Howard Giskin is the author of
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