December 23rd 2015

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Today we traveled north to Montpelier, the smallish capital of Vermont—a largish town rather than a city. When Basho recounted his journey in Narrow Road to the North, he often wrote about utamakura—famous landmarks, religious and historical, often made famous by previous poets. I can’t think of any utamakura in Montpelier.

So I’ll create one.

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December
····heatwave—the abandoned boxcar’s new
··············graffiti

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There’s a seldom used railroad track that goes through the heart of Montpelier. Though there are signs forbidding pedestrians, the railroad bridge is used by everyone as a shortcut—including me and family.

If I were to convey my understanding of the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic, an abandoned railroad track might be the place I’d start. There’s an abandoned boxcar just a few steps off main street. The rails have been cut from the main track and I’ve always wondered about it.

But now, at least, Montpelier has an Utamakura. Go look for it when you visit. Once, with my kids, we walked on the tracks, balancing on the rails all the way to the co-op. Maybe I can do it one more time, one more summer or two, before I lose them to the wider world.

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47: December 23rd 2015 | bottlecap

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