Sunday, April 23, 2006

SF - Oregon

Leaving SF and on into beautiful, mournfully pale Northern California. Cedars and firs begin to appear, distant mountains of sand give way to another immense, low plain. The moon is hanging to the East as we head up Route 5, as transparent as a circle of tissue paper in the sky. The moon in the daylight is always magical, woven into the rhythms and shadows of the day. You only notice it on really pale days, winter days: I remember a chain of them leading back into my childhood, when, with my feet on the gravel of a cul-de-sac, I dropped my bike and stared, hypnotised for the first time. As I wrote this self-consciously Proustian paragraph, the sun suddenly faded, and the moon disappeared behind sullen rectangular banks of cloud. the light is too dim to carry on writing in the car.

We stop at McGrath's fish restaurant in Medford, Oregon and I order oysters with a glass of wheat beer. Having visited once before, Medford, and McGrath's in particular have taken on a strange quality for me, approached in darkness, an enchanting light in the barren stretches of the 5, the perfect resting point between SF and Portland, a place to get lost in beer and er.. shellfish, it dissolves into strip malls, Subways and Taco Bells in the light of day. Medford reminds me of where I grew up - boredom, bracing mornings, a faint and inexplicable sense of foolishness.

I woke in the night with a fear I had never experienced before - the fear of growing old alone, the fear that one day there would be no one left to listen to me. I slept and dreamt of holding a girls head in my hands, the slight movement of the skin, the hair, the plates of the skull in my supporting fingers. I woke up deep in the territory of cramps and nightmares. Damn oysters.

The redwood forests of Oregon are like a version of the Sutherland I grew up loving, magnified into impossibility. Enormous. I have a crush on Oregon, it seems a special place, my heart flutters when it's mentioned in conversation!

4:18pm: the moon appears again, this time away to the North East, and very low in the Sky. Enormous snowy mountains in the distance which I had initially mistaken for clouds! The late afternoon light is amber, russet. Crimson and burgundy leaves line the 5, with pockets of evergreen and Weeping Willow breaking through in patches. We are very late for soundcheck and I am hungry. The Louvin Brothers' 'Come and Meet Me in the Shadow of the Pines' is playing.


Anonymous said...

Alisdair, as long as you make music, folks will remember, someone will listen. Your music is your document, and you won't grow old alone, metaphysically at least.

Chum said...

Medford and Ashland are the stomping grounds of my youth. You have done it justice. Now I call Portland home. Come back to Oregon soon, and this time I won't miss your show and if you have a day off, we can go surfing.