Ashland’s Pleasures

We hadn’t expected to get to the theater our first night in Ashland, but we made good time on the road, I got a nap, and so we went to Two Trains Running, by August Wilson.

Two Trains Running, by August Wilson, from playbook

Two Trains Running, by August Wilson, from playbook

The Shakespeare Theater Festival here has had a goodly number of Wilson plays over the years, and we always enjoy them. They are relatively low key– in this one, even though a couple of hand guns appeared on stage, not a shot was fired. (This almost certainly violates Tolstoy’s (??) theater premise — show the audience a gun and (the rule says) it must be used during  the play). The absence of gun shots was endearing.

Ashland’s weather is also enchanting. The town sits in a bit of a valley, with wooded mountains to one side and large, rounded hills across the interstate on the other. The snow on Wednesday night, coming down in fat flakes as we left the theater, did not stick around in the valley. But just up the hills on both sides, it marked the somewhat dank winter scenes with white. Our motel sits up high enough that we could see the fog rising on both sides of us, with the sun moseying in and out of large puffy clouds.

AshlandWinterSw

AshlandWinterAboveNw

After breakfast I headed off to Bloomsbury Books (which I have elsewhere mislabeled as Annie Blooms’ Books, which is another fine bookstore in the Portland area). I did not see the cat but I found a book I read in part in the NY Times (or was it the New Yorker?) some years ago: Moira Kalman’s And the Pursuit of Happiness. Kalman does drawings much like my friend Pat, a lovely combo of text and drawings. Kalman (and Pat) are cheerful and optimistic, with just enough of a wit to keep from being saccharine. This is a picture book, which means the old Kindle can’t handle the images, so I had an excuse to buy it while I could. (I would be bragging to say that I didn’t bring a single book on this trip with me; so yes, I’m bragging. But I also knew we were going to be in Ashland near Bloomsbury Books).

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Kalman’s sketch of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, with a bit of her text.

It occurred to me as I sat making desultory notes in one of the well-worn Bloomsbury chairs that I wished I could capture, through sketches, what seems so easy to capture in handwriting. I did some sketching, but the results were nothing to bore my friends with.

We went to Amour (the movie) at the Main Street theater (the Varsity?) this afternoon; we’re scheduled for King Lear tonight. As Jer said,  Lear will undoubtedly cheer us up after Amour. Amour is a fine movie but not exactly cheerful.

And we walked home at dusk in some kind of light precipitation, hard to classify — mist? gentle snow? rain? fog? Mostly a combo of all.

AshlandFogEvew

Amour, the flick this afternoon, and then King Lear this evening, through the misty, misty lights. We are certainly beginning our adventure well. –June

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9 Responses to Ashland’s Pleasures

  1. Carla Preston says:

    As I reading this and leaning away from the monitor I thought on the legs of woman in the picture. They seemed almost too long, maybe she was simply slinking. Well, then, I sat up straighter and realized it was RB Ginzberg and the long legs were in fact your (or Jer’s) fingers keeping the book open. Pretty interesting illusion or trick if that was what you planned. Whatever, I love your travel comments.

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  2. Olga says:

    I have always regretted not travelling to the Portland area when we lived in the States. Now I am completely vindicated in my regret.

    I do so love those trips which pack in so much diverse thinking along with the looking and exploring. Seeing Amour before Lear definitely sounds the more optimistic viewing direction! Lear is a great favourite of mine, but having spent the time I did with my mother of late we tend to try to avoid third age depression – not least because it will catch up with ourselves soon enough!

    Journeys are invigorating however, in all senses – even vicarious ones!

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    • jund says:

      Portland and Oregon will await your next trip, Olga. And these trips, like yours, always engender unexpected thoughts. As we were buying the movie tickets yesterday, the women in front of us, about our age, had a somewhat prolonged discussion about whether to see the “happy” movie or the sad one. Once they decided on the “happy” one, they felt obligated to apologize to the two of us — not for holding up the line, but rather for choosing silly over sorrow. While I’m not sorry I saw Amour, I do understand completely their choice. Jer almost fled the theater in tears. Lear was, for me, the more powerful.

      But you may have challenged me beyond my capabilities; the banality of getting back on the road (between winter storms) may bring me to silence:-)

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  3. terry grant says:

    You have made me quite nostalgic here. The mountain seen in the first photo–I forget its name–was our view from our back windows and the mountain in the last, Grizzly, the view from my grandmother Hazle’s house. Her ashes are up there, scattered. Many movies enjoyed at the Varsity. I hope you bought popcorn, so you could shake brewers yeast on it from the counter shaker. Grandma always told me the valley is the divide between the coast range and the inland mountains and that is why the mountains on the west are forested and the ones on the east are bare. Striking, isn’t it? I hope Lear is good. One of my favorites.

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    • jund says:

      Glad to enhance your memories, Terry, thanks for the tidbits about Ashland. I have less info about the surrounding territory than I normally would because I spend so much time lollygagging about the stores and galleries. Staying at the Bard gives us easy access to all the “cultural stuff” by which I mean tschokes and sketch books as well as the theaters. Lear was fantastic.

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  4. janetl says:

    Sounds great!

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    • jund says:

      I think of you and Ron a lot — although some of our favorite eating places have disappeared. But Ashland is the only place I ever imagine buying elegant clothes. And of course, the Bloomsbury book is in honor of your own library, enhanced by your own Bloomsbury ventures.

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  5. Lia says:

    Ah, Ashland and all its natural and cultural delights! I miss it. Glad you two are spending time to enjoy it. Can’t wait to see/read more about the Underwood winter travels.

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    • jund says:

      It’s been a long winter for us, so the joy of getting away, even from as good a place as southeastmain, is pretty strong. It’s no warmer here, though:-)

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