On my way to Tas

Naming and names are a funny thing. I always want to know what something is called — usually it’s a tree of some kind, or a bird.  Matt and I disagree on this; he says it’s better not to know.

I might, just might, be coming around to that idea. But first, some thoughts on names here: Over the weekend, we rode up Mt. Coot-tha.  It sounds like a native name.  Wikipedia confirms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Coot-tha,_Queensland) that it’s something like “Hill of Honey.”  But it doesn’t matter: it’s a lovely ride, hard on the uphill slope that faces the city, and then just breezy and green and eucalyptus trees and lawns among the television station towers.  (I went down some hills without braking at some point; I never, ever do that. It was so much fun.)  

Brisbane, by the way, is named for a former governor of the region, some white guy from the 1800s; one of Matt’s colleagues calls it Brisvegas.

This morning, here in Brisbane after a clear cool night, the jasmine were blooming — or at least, that’s what it smelled like to me. Who knows which kind of jasmine it was, or if it was even jasmine.  Doesn’t matter.  It perfumed stretches of our bike commute this morning and it was lovely.

Tomorrow, I’ll head to “Tas” — or what Tasmania is now called by Australians. Again, I would have thought: Aboriginal name.  But no, it’s after some Dutch guy, an explorer named Abel Tasman.

Imagine being the first to discover the animal we now know as the Tasmanian Devil, or even the platypus — how do you name these creatures?

Ursula K. Le Guin wrote a goofy and wonderful short story in which Eve takes back all the names of the animals (“She Unnames Them,” which I cannot believe is posted in its entirety from the New Yorker publication in the 1980s here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qE-mJs0wRwWkwK7b7bCqqGBC1Iqrl9GSrdhXpdQogaM/edit).  “The cats, of course, steadfastly denied ever having had any name other than those self-given, unspoken, ineffably personal names… .

All of this verbal wandering about to say:  I never thought I would ever say, I’m on my way to Tasmania. Posts from even farther down under to come.

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