Revisiting, Reseeing

April 14th, 2024 by Diana Coman


What do you see in it, I wonder - the caked mud or the precise, fractal-like contours of the soil's own scales? The barren soil and lack of any green or the variety of browns and the striking contrast of the almost black and white larger pieces? Some fanciful dragon bone poking out from the ground at that place or merely a mud-path in a mud place, dirt piled upon dirt?

Possibly none of the above indeed, possibly nothing at all - "it's just a picture of some mud, ffs!" Or possibly something else entirely, why not? I know I used to see "just a picture of some mud" long time ago, when I also barely had the patience to look twice at it. Revisiting old places this year though meant as well reseeing1 them and thus noticing not as much the changes or the lack of changes in those places as how much more I saw indeed in them2. This is quite easy in fact when one has inquisitive children around, to bring into sharp contrast just how little seeing is truly made by the eye and how much more is rather made by... experience perhaps, for lack of a better word. Their eyes saw it all better and faster than mine for sure and nevertheless, they circled back to it for a second look when I pointed out some detail or similarity and then... they came back with further questions on pretty much everything around, of course, how else.

It all sort of started with going back to those rolling hills of my childhood for a break. The old house there is falling down but there's a new house built now, with all modern comforts and otherwise looking inside more "authentic" to modern eyes than the actually authentic, even. It's pretty and comfortable and all that so everyone insisted I should stay there with them, of course and I said I will, too, if they insist so much, only I'll still set up for the night my own tent further up the hill closer to the trees and the silence and the dark. My own child jumped up with joy at the idea, the other adults shook their heads at this, of course, and I let them do it as much as they wanted, it's long time since it stopped bothering me in the slightest. We sat with them for the day and then we went to our own quiet place for the evening - only to find that in half an hour at most, my nieces came to visit and then well, it was story time and star gazing time and eventually, reluctantly, sleeping time, even.

One day, we went also a bit further - not all that far from the green rolling hills, about one hour away by car across the serpentines, the landscape turns barren and alien, seemingly desert-like with its light brown, almost yellow dunes on which no vegetation grows at all. There are only cracked fault lines running like outstretched, grasping fingers through the dried, acidic soil:


What humidity there is comes directly as mud rather than water - and not any sort of mud but bubbling, overboiling mud spilling at various intervals from holes in the ground that can go several kilometres down even when they barely show as a small opening at the surface. A small opening is all it takes indeed for the gases trapped underneath to find a way out and bring with them a steady supply of water, soil and minerals that give the surfaces its colouring such as it is. The air smells at times of sulphur and some of the bubbling puddles are visibly yellow, too. In places, the mud formed small mounds with fantastic shapes but it's all very much a work in progress, as the bubbling and the sculpting is ongoing:


The child was delighted with it all - "it's Moon-like!" - and kept trying to conquer the peaks such as they were and otherwise to dam, divert or in any case make the moving mud follow his will, of course.


Over the next few days, I took the child hiking and he took with him his new little drone to try out in the "wilderness" as he put it. We saw deer, hares and foxes in the woods, quite closer to the open and more easily met with than I ever saw them before but we didn't meet nor see any other person at all, even at a distance. And the woods looked to my eye more full of dead wood than I ever saw them, while the hills seemed in places to have missed at least one round of grass cutting, sporting rather sadly the dried out long grass of last autumn, still.

People's absence aside, the woods were slowly waking up to spring and it was, sadly, too early for any mushrooms or wild berries of any kind, despite the weather being rather warm for this time of the year. But in the open, on the hillsides, the plum trees were already blossoming all around:



Matching it all, it also turns out that those fangled new fences that were all the rage some 5-10 years ago have been so abandoned meanwhile that one can hardly tell where they were so hastily errected at that time. Apparently the initial enthusiasm in fencing out whole hills and woods for oneself doesn't quite age that well nor does it survive the amount of maintenance required to keep the fences up in such place, who knew. Apparently all one needs to do at times is to simply wait for nonsense to exhaust itself, at least in some happy cases. We circled the village from all sides on the hills around and we found time and place for everything - for stories and drone flying as well as for climbing, resting and learning to orient oneself in that sort of rural landscape. And I took pictures this time, remembering how much I felt the lack of those I failed to take years ago so here's the last batch including even the mandatory picture of myself, apparently still frowning in that sort of sun without even knowing it and regardless of the dark glasses - some things apparently really don't change at all, no matter what one does or how much time passes...



  1. Why exactly is this not a commonly used word? Why can it be perfectly well recalling rather than "calling it again" but it's supposed to be "seeing it again" rather than reseeing? 

  2. It always seemed rather surprising to me how accounts of old, familiar places tend to either lament the ways in which those places changed (the loss of some "good old times" of one sort or another) or precisely the opposite, the ways in which those places failed to change (the persistence of some "bad old times", I suppose). For my part, revisiting and reseeing something always felt more like adding to the previous images of it, accumulating depth as it were and not at all a flat "find the difference" or "find the similarity" exercise. So I revisit, resee and remeet - I know, I know, this is not supposed to be a valid word either, ever wondered why not? - old, familiar places quite calmly and with fresh rather than merely nostalgic pleasure or displeasure. The past remains as it was at all times, it can't change and the present is simply made all the more substantial by it as far as I'm concerned, that's all. Possibly a persistent and rather stubborn memory greatly supports this approach. 

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