or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Rock Me

Today, still in Bath, we took a side trip to Stonehenge. Yes, I know: a touristy cliche. Nevertheless, it was pretty wonderful; almost unbelievably old, and, despite the gift shop and the roadways, very moving, like something that has travelled through time to be in our midst.

There's a disconcerting mysticism about the whole deal: the British as a whole tend not to be particularly religious, so it can be easy to forget how gullible and/or superstitious they can be (like most any other people on the face of the Earth, I hasten to add).

The site itself is roped off, and there's an asphalt path around the structure. Just outside the rope barrier, a number of people were lying around on the grass: most of them seemed to just be soaking up the sun and the atmosphere (it was a bright, cool day, and there really is an atmosphere of specialness about the place), but one woman was sitting in a half-lotus position with a rather beatific smile her face when we arrived; communing with the spirits, I suppose, or just absorbing the mystical energy. Perhaps she found some sort of enlightenment, but I expect the only energy she was absorbing was that of the sun, and I think she probably left with nothing more than a beatific sunburn.

The people on the bus over were talking about all the crop circles that have been seen in a nearby area called Warminster. The bus driver didn't seem too impressed: without deliberately stamping on anyone's beliefs, he said (I wrote this down), "A lot of UFO sightings in the area. It could be down to the military base nearby, or it could be down to the strong beer they serve in the pubs."

He also mentioned the crop circles", and, again without trampling anyone's beliefs (he wouldn't call them silly, but I do), said they could have something to do with ley lines, or they could just be made by some clever art students. The "ley" in "ley lines", by the way, it etymologically related to "lea", which is to say a meadow.

We drove past an Avon River, and the bus driver said that there were seven of them in England. What's so special about the name Avon? As it turns out, it's the Welsh word for River: "afon", with the "-f-" being pronounced as "-v-" in that language. The Avon river, then, is literally the river river. That's okay; English is no stranger to tautology (just look at "tuna fish").


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