Tuesday, November 28, 2023

THE PASSING OF MOSQUITOES

Passage from as yet to be written Nabokov novel: "She came in from the terrace with her tea cup, as it had turned colder once the wind arose. Her elegant hand held the saucer steady, though faintly the vibration at the interface of the porcelains coloured the stillness. Then, after setting the tea down, she pensively re-lit her pipe. Perhaps she should think of dinner. Rendang from last night, perhaps, and long beans with salted fish and chilies. Then some klepon with a cup of coffee." If Sirin were still alive, it would be set in a villa near Baltic sea, but Vladimir Vladimirovich passed away over four decades ago in Montreux, Switzerland.
And, sadly, he never set his tales in the peat bog speckled landscape of Brabant.

Also, most women (still) don't smoke pipes.
So it would seem exxagerated.
Perhaps a little off.


It's also extremely likely that none of his characters would have a taste for Dutch Indonesian food -- anything with coconut milk and rubicund chili pastes, really -- and at the times of his writing, long beans (katjang pandjang) were not common enough in Europe that one could casually buy them at the market, thinking "oh, these look nice".
The region around Valkenswaard and other towns near the border with Belgium is boggy and woodsy, with rivers running through it, and pools of still water surrounded by trees and reeds. There are marshes where birds flock, and, as one would expect in so moist an area, mosquitoes are a fact of life from the end of April till the beginning of October.

It's lovely there. One must take the mosquitoes for granted, and not think about them. During the summer months it is warm enough that one sleeps with the windows left wide open, and mosquito nets or coils are quite unavailable. Which seems inexplicable from this distance in time. I lived there till I was eighteen. I didn't buy any mosquito nets till long after I had left.
There are probably holes in my grey matter from the bug repellants in South East Asia.


My apartment mate still has the mosquito net up around her bed. Mine haven't been hauled out of storage in years. A pipe smoking Dutchman is far less tempting to bloodsuckers than a Cantonese American woman, by a very long shot. And if neccesary I'll just light some snow pear (Sydney Aloes wood) incense to chase them away.

If I ever have a romantic involvement, I'll bring the nets out.
It would be the gentlemanly thing to do, don't you think?



In the meantime, I'll just indulge in salt fish, garlic, ginger, chilies, slow-simmered meats and lovely vegetables, coffee, tea, pipe tobacco, and fondling my briar pipes for want of tactile and emotional excitement. As well as disagreeing with the rightwing hosebags that often occupy the backroom at work.

Plus using my computer to draw things.
That seems to keep me sane.



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