The Grand Tour.

March 16, 2013 § 5 Comments

London Bridge.In my fourth grade bedroom was a pickle jar, the label covered by a photo of London Bridge cut from a travel ad in the New York Times Magazine.

In the jar was loose change, a crumpled dollar bill; my start on getting from my bedroom at 5 Canoe Broke Drive, Princeton Junction, New Jersey to “The Grand Tour.”

I yearned toward a world I had thus far experienced only as ink on glossy paper.

I got there too. I backpacked across Europe during college with two shirts, one jumper, a pair of pants, and a thin sweater. Coldest summer of my life. I knocked on the doors of Italian relatives who had clearly not gotten the letters my grandfather sent explaining who I was and that I was coming.

At four months pregnant I went back to England with my parents, and nearly miscarried on my first night in London.

I’ve crisscrossed the US in a VW camper. I’ve slept under stars and pines and redwoods.

I know I haven’t traveled enough to satisfy that fourth-grader, but these days I’m less inclined. Not because the world is no longer interesting or worth the shivering or the knocked-on doors, but because no matter where I look there seems to be something as interesting as London Bridge—and so, the grand tour has become local.

Bumble bee with bee balm.There are no tour guides saying, “If you look to your left, you’ll see…” This tour has no guidebook or itinerary.

If you look to your left you might see a bee approaching (aptly enough) bee balm in my sister’s garden in Stockbridge.

Park a chair beside this patch and the bees will come and go all day unaware of either you or the chair, demonstrating without any desire to show off, how hovering is done.

Your memory of an afternoon with the sun on your back and the drowsy hum of bees is as close as you will get to a postcard.

Our meadow, early morning.Go out early enough and you will see the dew strung like pearls on a spiderweb—but not just one.

Look—and  the webs are everywhere, luffing in the breeze, turning the sun’s early rays to rainbows.

Being ephemeral only adds to their beauty.

View beyond the wing.The tour is constant and it changes every moment.

So, instead of closing your eyes in your econo-class Delta seat, look out the window.

The view is right now, then gone. There is no T-shirt.

I know, I know. We’re all busy and beauty slows us down, distracts us from the purpose at hand–the bee probably gives little time to admiring the flower as it does its job.

But there is, always, all around us, the grandeur of the small, the local, the amazing everyday.

Don’t miss out putting coins in a jar for later.

The grand tour is now.

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