whistlestop caboose

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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

Tulips 2006 for Gran ellengwallace's Tulips 2006 for Gran photoset

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A world of small Christmas tales: Madame Butterfly and the Inuit baby

Beijing, China, 1985

Before I visited China for the first time in 1985 I thought all women there wore Mao suits, dark blue, and their mothers had all dressed like Madame Butterfly, bright colors and tight skirts slit up the side.

In fact, both of these creatures were rare, and so were butterflies. I found this one in Beijing.

Alaska, 1988

The baby was a gift from an old friend who grew up in northern Minnesota, a land of much cold and as much snow, who moved to Alaska.

I had never thought of Alaska as a place where people went to live. The Inuits were different from people in the Lower 48 states. They wore clothes all the time, never took hot baths, ate blubber and white was their favorite color, or so I thought until I was at least 10. I was then enchanted by their "new" name of Inuit, after calling them Eskimos throughout my schooldays.

Alaska changed my sense of space. The sky was higher, the mountains further, the ocean wider there. People and even animals were dots spread far apart on the Earth and to connect the dots you would need paper so vast that you would never be able to step back and see what you had drawn. Alaska, for all the bravado of its citizens, was a place where it didn't seem to matter in the end what the shape of the place was. It was enough to be immense.


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