Since Christmas, when I got an email from friends who were visiting Venice, I have been contemplating a posting on Goethe and Venice. Today, however, I will do something different, though it begins with kayaking, which is not foreign to this blog. One afternoon seven summers ago Rick and I were walking along the Hudson River when we noticed a sign advertising "Free Kayaking." We had the choice of two singles or a double. We took a double, the last time that ever happened: Rick liked to call doubles "divorce boats." Thus began our adventure with the Downtown Boathouse organization. We became volunteers in the 72nd Street program and kayakers. Of the two of us, I was the more avid; Rick took up biking four years ago, but he was always on hand at the end of Sunday afternoon to close up the program.
I always like to say that three important things happened to me in New York that would surprise folks back in Louisville. First among them was that I met and married Rick. The second was that I was published (book reviews) in The Wall Street Journal. The third was that I kayaked in the Hudson River. There is not a single Goethe scholar among the folks I kayak with. But though we have come together from very different backgrounds, united by our love of the water and the craft of kayaking, I have discovered in my recent troubles some very staunch supporters, like XL and Derick (at left) and Larry (pictured with me below at the Boathouse).
Also among them are Vlad and Johna, kayakers extraordinaire. Finally I am getting around to the subject of today's post, the Versatile Blogger award. I was nominated for it by Vlad and Johna's blog "Wind Against Current." I love their blog for several reasons. First off, Vlad and Johna are always describing kayak trips that I wish I were on, e.g., a circumnavigation of Staten Island. (And I remember when the height of my kayaking achievements was to kayak across New York Harbor to Governors Island!) Their descriptions communicate the fun and joy that one has in kayaking. And they offer fabulous photos (taken by Vlad) of the trips. Summer, winter, whenever: the weather doesn't stop them.
Among the qualities for consideration for the award, Versatile Blogger mentions "the quality of the writing, the uniqueness of the subjects covered, the level of love displayed in the words on the virtual page ... [and] the quality of the photographs and the level of love displayed in the taking of them." Wind Against Current certainly exemplifies these criteria, but there is another facet that I suspect often emerges in the course of doing a blog: even though one starts a blog with a certain subject (i.e., kayaking), you find yourself venturing into the world. Thus, Vlad recently documented his Christmas tree lighting preferences. Or ice skating in Central Park.
I was very flattered that Vlad and Johna thought I was a versatile blogger. This could have been "only" a Goethe blog, but I was prescient enough to call it "Goethetc." I mentioned in a long-ago post that, when I used to live in Asia, I would write long letters to friends back home telling them about what I was doing. In the electronic age, the blog serves the same function. Those letters took me a long time to compose, and the same goes for the blog. That's why I don't post every day. If I did, I wouldn't have time to do anything else in life.
So, that's the long and short of blogging for today. Versatile Blogger recommends nominating 15 other blogs. Well, I don't follow that many blogs, but I would like to pass on the names of two blogs that I love. The first is Geographic Travels. The force behind it goes by the name "Catholicgauze." He takes us all over the earth, including Iraq and Afghanistan, connecting geography with current politics, most recently on Iran and the straits of Hormuz. He is also something of a cultural anthropologist, and I recently learned that there were not 13 original colonies, but 15. (Check it out.)
The other blog is First Known When Lost, which is one of the most perfect virtual spaces I have ever inhabited. It always features a poem and at least one painting. The title of the blog tells much about the contents. It is a place to stop and contemplate, to reflect on the things that matter -- and that have always mattered. Enough said. Go and look.