The easy answer would be “Nowhere near Carmen Sandiego,” but if my matter has any chance of doing justice to my circumstances, I shall need a considerable elevation of style. For I am composing this at an altitude of 35,000 feet as my airplane sprints Paris-ward over Newfoundland and its chilly schools of codfish miles below.
The Cloisters and Looking Westward therefrom
New York, on a beautiful crisp autumnal day, is hard to beat; and my last two days there were of that sort. On Friday I accompanied a local mini-reunion of the Princeton class of 1970 to the Cloisters, which is a special medieval colony of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, placed amid the spectacular grounds of a great old estate (now Fort Tryon Park) in upper Manhattan. From its pathways and parapets one looks westward across the Hudson to the New Jersey Palisades, where the leaves have begun to yellow. The museum is called the Cloisters on account of its cloisters, natch; a very wealthy medieval buff of the early twentieth century scooped up a few old monasteries from southern France and northern Spain and re-assembled them in New York. The idea was that a tour of medieval art would be more, well, medieval, if undertaken in the presence of an aging medievalist. And so it proved.
Today was no less beautiful, and I spent half of it scuttling to and fro the East Village post office at Fourth Avenue and Eleventh Street. I was trying to ship some weighty books to my house in Princeton, as my Paris-bound suitcase is plenty heavy already. The books were much-appreciated tokens of esteem laid upon me in gratitude for a little after-dinner talk I gave following the Cloisters tour. There were other challenging trophies of my brief American tour. A part of my book prize is a lovely tchotchke, a piece of crystal art memorializing in a small lake of carved glass the names of the book and its author and other particulars. To call this thing a paper-weight would be to commit an act of linguistic lèse-majesté, though it might hint at the useful purpose to which it will be put in my study at home, making sure that one of the composing stones doesn’t blow away. Other purposes it would serve less well. It is not the sort of thing, for example, that one would want to add to the weight of one’s transatlantic luggage just for sport; so I had to search out a suitable temporary home for it pending an opportunity to visit the city in a Mack truck. A brain wave struck, and it has now found temporary shelter in one of my daughter’s currently underutilized offices.
Mention of my dearest daughter brings me to the true purpose of this post. I have bragged about her plenty in the past, but I left out some purely personal parts, such as how solicitous she is of her aging parents. She is aware that hanging out for months on end in Parisian parks, museums, libraries, and restaurants really takes it out of you; and she has decreed that we need a mini-vacation. We all leave early tomorrow (Monday). I am not at liberty to disclose the destination. That’s for you to figure out, but here’s a big hint:
Another hint is that there is no Internet connection at Mystery Mountain, an implication of which fact being that your bloguiste will next resurface on the third of November. That is the day on which the Church remembers the great Richard Hooker, usually called “the judicious,” who died on November 3, 1600. If you’re starved for reading material before then, you could do worse than dip into Hooker’s masterpiece, The Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie. That's what I always do if I get bored. I hope you enjoy the week as much as I intend to do.
ADDENDUM, Wednesday morning, 27 October
As the WiFilosigkeit of my mystery destination--which was, incidentally, correctly identified within an hour of posting by a well-traveled Princetonian of the Class of 2010--seems to have been considerably exaggerated, I take the opportunity to append a photograph taken from my balcony window five minutes ago: