Thursday, December 7, 2023

Carpenter’s Column: Here’s a place: The travel writer’s dilemma

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As time passes, we accumulate meaning. Show of hands. Who has experienced “hot?” Yes? You in the back? No, we’re not talking about physical attractiveness. Thank you. Please sit down. Everyone, please ignore my alter ego in the back of the room. Me! Please see me after class.

How close we sit next to the wood stove depends on the nature of the experience that clarified our meaning of the adjective. And so on. Meaning begets meaning begets meaning until the ultimate meaning is begotten.

Likewise, we accumulate places. Where are you from? Me? From? Where? Well, I was born in the Kennedy Deaconess Hospital. Or do you mean where I call home? That is an interesting question.

Name a favorite place. Hum. I like to sit in a particular place in our living room, even though there are five other places I could sit, six if you count the floor.

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My getting down to the floor resembles a ninja-like move done in super-slow motion with mute on. Getting up from the floor is a different action sequence, one closely resembling the speed and complexity of an underfunded Miami high-rise construction project — sans the crane. Eventually, I stand, but I wouldn’t want to rent a condo in me.

We accumulate places. Some of us travel. Sicily. Italy. Australia. New Zealand. Indiana. Front yard. Backyard. That bench at the park. Crystal Rapids. Summit of Mt. Humphreys. West Fork of the Black River. Center stage.

You get my drift. We accumulate places we love. Which brings me to the travel writer’s dilemma. With whom should we share the places that we love?

Write about a place you love and get it published in a magazine with a large circulation and what do you get? A check in the mail, your name in print, and a place forever changed by its growing popularity. The enthusiasm of sharing a discovery is tempered by the new reality that the next time you visit the place, you’ll need a permit to park.

On the one hand, you’ve given others the opportunity to discover a new place to love — sometimes, alas, unto death — while on the other hand, you’re jeopardizing the future of that place you love.

What’s a hack like me to do? Perhaps science fiction or fantasy are the solution.

“Eight Places to Visit on Titan.” Tired of the crowds and atmosphere on Saturn? Have the rings lost their luster? Then make a side trip to the big moon, Titan. You can enjoy cross-country skiing, and speedskating that rivals the experiences found on the canals of the Netherlands back home on good ol’ Earth.

Be sure to stop in at Dot’s Sunspot Diner for an out-of-this-world chili dog. And book a stay in the antique spacecraft at the Shady Nebula Trailer Park. There’s lots to see and do on Titan. But do everyone a favor and keep this out-of-the-way treasure a secret. Only 746 million miles away as the crow flies.

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