Not Disappointed

john-westrock-766541-unsplash

Cape Disappointment (Photo: John Westrock on Upsplash)

 

The damp timbers creaked under her feet as she wondered if the fog would lift. She half-hoped it would not.

She was still small and timorous when her uncle had brought her here for the first time. “And you won’t be disappointed,” he had laughed, the lines about his eyes creasing in merriment.

It was only later that she understood his joke. It still made her smile.

Indeed, she loved Cape Disappointment. Even in the fog. Perhaps especially in the fog, in its unique magic. She’d read that almost a third of a year’s hours are spent in fog on the headland, masking rivers, hugging sand.

A gust of wind dripped cold into her collar and she laughed. Her uncle used to shake a branch onto her. This felt like a gift.

“You were right, Uncle,” she wiped a tear. “This place did not disappoint. Neither did you. Not once.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Cape Disappointment, Washington, USA

 

 

The Sultan

Portrait: Sultan Saifuddin of Tidore, Czartoryski Museum, Krakow

 

“Kesultanan Tidore does not betray its people,” the Sultan waved his hand to dismiss the envoy. “We are not Ternate,” he added, ignoring his advisor’s frown.

The envoy left, stiff-backed, and the Sultan sighed and rose from his seat. It was past time for lunch.

“I do not like the Portuguese any more than I like the Dutch,” he admitted.  “Neither have our well-being in mind. But the Spaniards have helped us resist the Dutch’s dogged attempts at making us their puppets. I will not become Ternate.”

“The Sultan speaks wise words,” the advisor bowed. “As for the trade?”

“I will take the Dutch’s payment for the cloves my people grow,” Sultan Saiffudin’s smile was tight, “and I will gift it to my people, whose support I trust more than that of the Dutch East India Company.” His smile dropped. “Make no mistake, the Dutch’s only aim is monopoly.”

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

 

Part Of History

Old Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, Alabama

Photo: C. M. Highsmith, Old Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, Alabama

 

“There is glory in the graves.”

“No there ain’t. There is only death in them graves. And bones, if they ain’t turned meal theyselves yet.”

“I’m only reading what it says, Gramma.”

“You is only saying what is lies, then, and it don’t make it no more true in the sayin.”

“I’m sorry, Gramma.”

“Hmm.”

Moss trailed from the old trees like cobwebs strung on homes for Halloween. There was eerie beauty in them. And sorrow.

“Why did you bring me here, Gramma?” she asked.

“Because it be part of history. Good and bad, you is supposed to know it.”

“It looks really old.” And peaceful, she didn’t add.

“I hear tell they’s started buryin’ here about 1830. Didn’t have no old live oaks then, or young’uns. Just dead peoples.”

“When did they plant the oaks, then?”

“Nearabout 1880. They trees is pretty, Chile, but they graves still got no glory.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Selma, Alabama

 

 

Fussy Fossa

fossa-676878_1920 SeaReeds from Pixabay

Photo: SeaReeds on Pixabay

 

“Is it a mongoose?” Molly squinted.

“Kind of cat.” Alfred raised his camera.

“No cat nor mongoose. It’s a Fossa. Belongs to the Viverrids.” Know-it-All Natalie noted, head-to-toe in expensive expedition gear.

“Vye-ve-whats?” Molly blurted.

Alfred shot Molly a warning glance, but it was too late.

“Viverrids. Civets. Genets. Or, if you need the very basics: Mammals. Endemic to Madagascar. Carnivorous. Eat lemurs, mostly, though they won’t turn their nose at lizards or birds or tenrecs.”

Alfred sighed. There’d be no stopping the Nataliepedia now. The woman was the bane of their group. He eyed the animal. Vye-ve whatever. Looked like dorky cougar to him.

“Nice fur,” he tried.

“You better not even think of it,” Natalie admonished, delighted. “They’re protected by fady. That’s local for taboo, in case you didn’t know that, either.”

Bet you aren’t, Alfred grumbled internally.  Are fossa too fussy to have YOU for lunch?

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Madagascar

 

Life Abridged

willie-fineberg-unsplash 10th st bridge Pittsburgh PA

Photo: Willie Fineberg via Upsplash, 10th St. Bridge, Pittsburgh, PA

 

She waited.

One more step and she’d have gone more than half-way across, but she found herself unable to move further. She sat on the asphalt, frozen by cemented legs.

So she waited. It was early, but sooner or later something will come by and she’d find out the price of her betrayal.

All her life she’s been bordered by this bridge, the yellow metal rising like a sun in her horizon: untouchable, unapproachable, dangerous.

They were raised to never cross it.

“Evil lives beyond this bridge,” her father had preached in daily sermons in their basement, the family huddled on aching knees and wreathed by incense, fear, and smoking wicks. “Leave here and your soul will be eternally forsaken. Abandon my teachings and you will not be saved.”

Well, she’d had enough. She could tolerate no more of his invasive ‘instruction.’

And she was ready.

To not be saved.

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Pittsburgh, PA

 

Reclaimed Royalty

 

https://naamayehudadotcom.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/7d39a-co.jpg

Lord O’Neill’s Cottage, Ram’s Island (from article in the Dublin Penny journal – 1830s) 

 

He’d come from royalty. Or at least from those who should’ve been but history had been too blind to realize their value. He’d seen promise in his older brother James: a lust for power and a need to force his will onto others. But James hadn’t shown enough self-preservation for a prince. A pity … but at least it left no issue of seniority.

Since childhood the conspiring doctors tried to claim him ill with “grandiosity.”

His mother failed to see. “We come from farmers, Thomas. Always have.”

Perhaps she truly believed her forefathers were but serfs to the O’Neills, but he knew better. He’d seen himself in the drawing, and it fit what he’d always known: He was destined for more, a royal progeny.

He’d take the island by force. It’ll make them realize it was past time he reclaimed what was his by rights, even if forgotten by history.

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Northern Ireland

 

When The Ice Breaks

greenland icebergs-933003_1920

Photo: Barni1 by Pixabay

 

He said he’ll be home when the ice breaks.

And every day she waited, one baby tugging at her skirts and another growing restless under her heart, and tried to not look at the field of crosses planted right outside her window. Reminders of the many who the frigid sea or dark winters or the loneliness of this place at end of the world had claimed.

Some days she hated Greenland. The endless nights. The gnawing cold. The monotony of the same few faces and the bickering that eventually picked open old scabs and gauged new hurts for the next arctic dark to revisit.

Other times she couldn’t fathom living any other place. Summer’s endless light. The sparkle on the water. Pups, babies, and not-so-babies frolicking. The wide spaces full of breath and warmth that thawed old sorrows into joy. It felt like coming home.

Will he?

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Greenland

 

Ice Maiden

castell-deudraeth-portmeirion-wales-p

Photo: Castell Deudraeth in Portmeirion, Wales

 

“My room is haunted,” Daria mentioned over toast and jam.

Margaret rolled her eyes and Daria stopped chewing.

Margaret sighed. Vacation or not, her twin was sure to find drama someplace.

“Honest, M! Something kept whispering ‘Aber Iâ’. What does that even mean?”

“Ice haven, Miss,” their waitress manifested with more tea, Welsh rolling heavy on her tongue, “also, glacial estuary.”

“And?” Daria pressed.

“There used to be a mansion on these grounds, Miss. In the 1700s. Was called ‘Aber Iâ’.”

“See?” Margaret looked pointedly at her sister. “You must’ve heard someone say it and it stuck in your mind.”

“Someone said it in my room!” Daria insisted. “All night!”

The waitress shifted uneasily. “What room are you in, Miss?”

Margaret glared.

“Might be the bwbach, see?” the young woman fiddled with her apron. “She can be restless sometimes but she’s never done no one any harm.”

 

 

Trivia:

  • bwbach — ghost or phantom in Welsh
  • Aber Iâ — Ice Haven or Glacial Estuary in Welsh. Also the name of an old mansion that used to stand on the grounds of what is now Castell Deudraeth, a hotel in Portmeirion Village, Wales.

 

For What Pegman Saw: Portmeirion Village, Wales

 

First Summit

himalayas-407_1920

Photo: Simon on Pixabay

 

He grew up in the shadow of Sagarmatha, where people’s moods shifted with Miyolangsangma’s and with the weather on the mountain foreigners insisted on calling “Everest.”

“Sagarmatha is her palace,” Dādā warned. “The uninvited should not trespass into the realm of the Goddess of Inexhaustible Giving. She turns many back. Some die.”

Most in the village agreed, and still they sent men to guide foreigners to the summit. Faith did not pay for necessities, while the visitors, eager if unequipped for the altitude and Miyolangsangma’s moods, paid well. Surely the Goddess understood.

“Foreigners are ignorant,” the old man argued. “But you know better than to show irreverence.”

He did know better. But Dādā needed medicine.

“I’ll stop by Rongbuk Monastery,” Garvesh proffered on the eve of his first ascent. “I will get the monks’ blessing.”

“It will not stop Karma,” his grandfather sighed. “Or what may be our last goodbye.”

∞ ∞ ∞

Trivia and Glossary:

  • Dādā — Grandfather in Nepali.
  • Sagarmatha — The Nepali name for Mount Everest. The Sherpa people believe that the mountain and its flanks are imbued with spiritual energy, and one should show reverence when passing through this sacred landscape, where the karmic effects of one’s actions are magnified.
  • Miyolangsangma — The “Goddess of Inexhaustible Giving” is a Tibetan Buddhist Goddess who Sherpa Buddhist Monks believe had lived at the top of the mountain.
  • Rongbuk Monastery — Also called the “sacred threshold to the mountain” is an important pilgrimage site for Sherpas who live on the slopes of Everest in the Khumbu region of Nepal.
  • Sherpa — One of the major ethnic groups native to the most mountainous regions of Nepal (as well as certain areas of China, Bhutan, India, and the Himalayas). The term sherpa or sherwa derives from the Sherpa language words Shar (“east”) and Wa (“people”), which refer to their geographical origin in Tibet.

 

For What Pegman Saw: Mount Everest, Nepal

 

 

Zēngzǔfù’s Bridge

Image result for Jiangxi province China free

Photo: pngtree.com

 

He had made the pilgrimage as promised. He didn’t know if he believed the ancestors would know he’d kept his word, but life was complicated enough without angering spirits, ancestral or not.

And it would have made his mother happy to know he’d visited the bridge his great-great-great-great-grand (or however many generations it was) had helped build. She’d always longed to make the trip back herself, and couldn’t.

“The sweat of your ancestor dripped into the stones,” his mother had told him, “his blood and thus yours lives in them.”

He heard her voice in Jia’s when the child, sober in pigtails and pink frilly dress, studied the structure. “So this is where we came from?”

He nodded.

His daughter walked to the first pile and touched it reverently. “Zēngzǔfù built this one,” the six-year-old stated. “Nǎinai told me. She showed me in my dream last night.”

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Jaingxi province of China