March 10, 2008

A Bit of the Busk

Photo of Grasmere in the English Lake District, 1999

Here's a little clip from the story entitled "American Busker." The scene takes place in London, almost a week before reaching the Lake District and the mountain pictured above.

We used our tourist’s unlimited week pass for the Tube and got on the first train that pulled into the underground tunnel. It was clear that Charles wasn’t going to elaborate on exactly where we were going, but I decided it was okay that I didn’t know. It crossed my mind that letting a man I barely knew lead me to an undisclosed location in a totally unfamiliar place would be considered a risk by a lot of people…probably even me on most days, which made it all the more exciting.

We got off the train in a quaint little market area with cobblestone streets and iron lampposts. Shop keepers were rolling up the garage style doors that kept their store fronts safe from what may lurk in the night, to reveal windows full of freshly baked breads and hanging clusters of cured meats. A florist was setting buckets of brightly colored daisies and tulips on the sidewalk under her shop window and a grocer rolled out carts heaped with fresh fruits and veggies.

We kept walking past the shops and followed the cobblestone road as it veered to the left. There was a tall hedge on our left and more shops to our right.

“I think it should be right past these bushes,” Charles said.

As soon as he finished his sentence we came upon a large courtyard with cobblestone trails weaving around green grassy patches spotted with budding trees. All of the trails lead to a small cathedral, it’s towering spire and intricate stonework was like something out of a fairytale. There was a small, gray haired man in glasses with darkly stained fingers closest to us. He was setting up an easel and laying out charcoal sketches of the cathedral on a blanket in front of him. There seemed to be a vendor with a wheeled cart to match every shop down the road. Men and women were pushing around loads of flowers, fruit, and even baguettes with a variety of sandwich makings on them. I saw a mime dressed in a black leotard with a wool skullcap and white face. He was moving at normal human pace, unstacking several wooden crates he had with him.

I looked at Charles. He had on jeans that were torn at the knee, a Blind Melon t-shirt under his grey zip-up hoodie and a baseball cap on backwards. Then I looked down at myself, bell-bottom jeans, pastel tie-dyed tank top dress with a blue sweater and paisley scarf that hung down past my knees. Even though we looked exactly like we did an hour earlier I felt like a Cindarella-esque tornado of glitter and magic had overtaken both of us and transformed us into the people standing there.

No comments: