Thursday, December 8, 2016

Wordplay Answers Your Questions

"No question is too small."

Q. Am I imagining it, or are people in a more anxious mood these days? I notice that people around me seem antsier than usual. Could this reflect some type of archetypal shift, and if so, what does it portend? Signed, Just Wondering.

A. Wondering, I, too, have noticed an uptick in anxiety, although I'm not experiencing it myself. I think it's best to avoid being beset by other people's panic unless there is actual, demonstrable need (i.e., the house is on fire). As for archetypal shifts, I don't know about that. If you want to know what's bothering people, you'll have to ask them.

Q. As an aid to active imagination and to further my goal of self-actualization, I have acquired a spirit animal. I don't want to tell you what it is because I'm afraid that would cause a power diminishment and a breach of the psychic protection it affords me; however, it is a mammal. You may think it's silly, but channeling my spirit animal makes me feel stronger and more assertive, but for some reason, it doesn't work well under certain circumstances, such as when people around me are using cell phones or laptops. Can electronic devices interfere with spirit animals? Signed, Short But Stout.

A. Short But Stout, I doubt that electronics can interfere with spirit animals. I think your problem is one of scale: next time, channel a T Rex.

Q. I understand one of your sidelines is baking. My question has two parts: 1. Do you think about the mythic dimensions of what you're doing as you're baking? 2. My biscuits are tough. Do you have any advice for how I can improve them? Signed, Aspiring Boulanger.

A. Aspiring, when I bake, I usually think about what I'm doing, because if my mind wanders, I make mistakes. As for your biscuits, try spooning your flour into the measuring cup. And make sure your butter is cold when you blend it in.

Q. I have a problem with people who invade my space. For instance, I was studying in the library recently when someone sitting next to me kept bumping into my things and hanging on my shoulder while talking into her cell phone. You'd have thought we were good friends from the way she was acting, but I didn't know her. What should I do? Signed, Nymph in Distress.

A. Nymph, did you try kicking her?

Q. What?

A. Kick her. When someone assumes an attitude of intimacy that I do not share, I always try to let them know, for their benefit as well as mine. You don't have to kick her hard.

Q. I can't believe you said that.

A. Life is not a cotillion, Nymph.

Q. I have been invited to the White House to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I am so excited by the honor and have been told that I might be asked to say a few words about what has inspired me in my life's work. You are actually one of my main inspirations, and I wonder if you can point me to a text that might supply some helpful mythic context for the occasion? Signed, Humble Yet Proud.

A. Dear Humble, I cannot help you, because if someone came to me talking about a Presidential Medal of Freedom or such claptrap as that, I would probably chase them off with a stick.

Q. You're not supposed to say things like that!

A. Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you wanted an honest answer.

Q. I have trouble meeting people and have been told that social skills are merely a question of practice. You seem so, I don't know, poised, and I know this is off the topic of mythology, but could you tell me what opening lines you use when you first meet people. It would help me so much. Signed, Wallflower.

A. Wallflower, the opening line I use most often is "Who the F are you?"

Q. I don't think you really mean that.

A. I do, though. And it doesn't have to be said out loud, although it can be.

Q. Well, you're just mean, aren't you?

A. Yes, I am.

Q. I got a splinter in my hand that I can't get out with tweezers. Can you suggest a remedy? Signed, Sore Finger.

A. Sore, good, I'm glad somebody asked that. I recently had the same problem and in researching the issue, discovered that some people swear by a paste made of baking soda and water covered with a bandage. However, I never got to try it since my splinter came out while I was doing the dishes. I don't know if it works or not.

Q. I was recently invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen. I know they have rules of protocol, but beyond that, are there any particular colors that you think would be appropriate for an Athena-inspired female trying to combine Demeter qualities with a Zeus inflection? Signed, Wardrobe Challenged.

A. Wardrobe, you're trying to cause trouble, aren't you?

Q. Sometimes I feel like people are talking about me, even people I don't know, like celebrities on TV. I sometimes feel that someone has literally been looking over my shoulder and spying on me. I never used to feel this way. You won't believe this, but I know I'm in full possession of my faculties, so I suspect something strange is going on. Do you think this could be some type of government program? One hears so much about government overreach these days.

A. How long have you been feeling this way?

Q. I don't want a diagnosis, I only want to know what god or goddess might be present in all of this.

A. Is it just TV, or is it on the radio, too?

Q. You're not helping me at all. I just want to know what archetype--

A. Are you hearing voices, too?

Q. Stop it! I'm going to ask Oprah instead.

A. Wait, I have a bachelor's in psychology! I can help you!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Essay on Color

I've been watching the news this week with interest, as I usually do, albeit it has been more entertaining than usual, with all the comings and goings at Trump Tower. Some people have been highly critical of the president-elect for creating such a spectacle with his pre-presidential planning and Cabinet interviews, but I've got to say that I personally have found it riveting. I don't mind a little flair, if that is someone's style, despite my own preference for low drama.

Before you remonstrate, I just want to point out that we've had any number of presidents-elect who've conducted their planning with absolutely complete fidelity to decorum who turned out to be duds once they actually inhabited the White House. So my thinking is, might not the reverse also be true: couldn't someone who colors outside the lines in the beginning (and possibly throughout) have more to offer than it appears? I don't know if this is the case, but I hope it is. I do know that I was laughing about reports that Mr. Trump spent Thanksgiving weekend asking people who they thought should be secretary of state. If that's not a true story, it ought to be.

In the face of all the hand-wringing, prognostications of disaster, CNN anchors practically in tears, and at least one Democratic senator having a conniption over a Trump advisor, I suppose you think the least I can do is offer some sort of mythic interpretation that helps make sense of the unfamiliar landscape we're in. The story that comes most vividly to mind with Mr. Trump is a Yoruba tale about Eshu, the divine trickster, who brought two neighbors to fisticuffs by walking between their fields wearing a vari-colored cap that looked different depending on which side you viewed it from. When the neighbors started fighting about the color of the cap, Eshu made sure to walk past them again going the opposite way, just to maximize confusion and ensure that they were hopping mad. *

You may be thinking, yes, well, it's always been obvious that Mr. Trump is a trickster, and we'll all be the worse for it. That may be, but Eshu, at least, is a character with a purpose: he creates discord in order to tear away the surface appearance of things and let the light of the divine shine through. Whether Mr. Trump has any similar designs or not is something we'll have to wait and see. You probably find the notion laughable, but I'm not altogether sure what he intends.

Since I've been a letdown to you on the Stop Trump front, maybe now you'll let me get on to what I really want to write about, which is what a glorious day it was today. Since we went back to Eastern Standard Time, I've been rearranging my days to get the full benefit of daylight as winter approaches. I went out for a walk in the middle of the afternoon one day last week and was stunned at how beautiful the light was. In this season and at that particular hour, it was so cool and clear that it looked like morning light.

Since then, I've been going out at various times and have seen the light at different angles. This afternoon it was like a holiday just to be out in the sun, to watch all those puffy clouds adrift in cerulean blue and to consider the colors of the trees, gone now to a more somber end of the spectrum in most cases but still stunning, with bursts of bright red and yellow punctuating the browns and russets. It's as if you got to the crayon box and someone had taken out the popular colors, the aquas and the violets and the hot pinks, and you were left with the burnt siennas, the ochers, and the chartreuses. If you stop and look, though, it's wonderful how well they look all mixed up together against a blue sky.

I thought a few weeks ago that it would be hard to beat the late afternoon light hitting the tops of the trees and turning them to flame at sunset, but taking walks at different times of the day has been a revelation. I've noticed a pair of trees that I've passed thousands of times without ever appreciating the unusual shade of red they exhibit, something that is only apparent in stronger light. I thought about it today and realized that it's like the color of ripe summer fruit, like fresh strawberries, a bit incongruous for December, maybe, but that's what it looks like. When the sun goes behind a cloud, the light goes flat and you don't see the colors at their best advantage. Being on foot, as opposed to driving by, also helps you slow down enough to appreciate the subtle beauty of the late fall to early winter transition.

I startled two robins down by the creek today and watched them flutter off. I passed maples and oaks, evergreens and hollies, magnolias and ginkgos and numerous others. I heard the wind in the leaves and spotted many nests in partially bare branches. I enjoyed the crisp air. I thought about the old saying, "In December, keep yourself warm and sleep." There's some wisdom to this, but there's also something to be gained by going out to meet the day, especially when it's as beautiful as today was. A little Vitamin D is never amiss, and you can always have hot chocolate afterward.

* (Source: "Legba and Eshu: Writers of Destiny" in Robert D. Pelton's The Trickster in West Africa: A Study of Mythic Irony and Sacred Delight)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Unfolds

Thanksgiving is such a family-oriented holiday that I'll bet a lot of people can't imagine spending it alone. I've spent it both ways, and while it's great to be with other people, there are compensations to going solo that you may not have thought of. You can set the menu and have only the things you like; you can decide on the spur of the moment to have dinner in the evening, by candlelight, instead of in the afternoon; and there's no pressure to have everything done properly or on schedule. Someone seemed surprised the other day when I said I always cook on Thanksgiving, rain or shine, but to me that's the only part that's non-negotiable. Thanksgiving is about eating.

My holiday today unfolded in a leisurely way, though the menu was pre-planned and I had already been shopping. I made my pie last night, and again this year, I went with something I haven't had before. I have a recipe for something called "Colonial Innkeeper's Pie" that sounded like it would stand up to a few days in the refrigerator (something you have to think about if you're the only one eating it). It was a little more labor-intensive than just mixing up custard or fruit filling and putting it in a crust, but in a fun way. I was unsure what it would taste like, but any recipe that includes "And then pour chocolate over everything" as one of the final steps is bound to be worth the time.

If I'd thought about it, I would have made a pitcher of iced tea last night, but I got sidetracked by an impromptu oven cleaning session once the pie was baked. No problem. I made cranberry relish this afternoon and then made the tea while the relish was cooling on the stove. I even got a walk in after that, and it was pleasant in a mild, damp sort of way. Not many people out, but there were drifting leaves and birds singing here and there and all those autumn colors. Once I got back, I put the turkey in and started slicing potatoes and getting the other side dishes ready. About halfway through the turkey cooking time, I put the potatoes in the oven so that they and the turkey would be finished at the same time. That's about it except for setting the table and lighting the candles.

By now you're probably asleep, but believe me, if I could make it sound more exciting, I would. I'm sure nobody wants to talk about politics, and I heard that people who were planning family visits were coming up with strategies to avoid such discussions today in light of the contentious election season we've had. I'm with them on that. I neither read nor listened to any news today other than looking at a few headlines a little while ago after getting online. I thought about how to season the turkey, what to add to the dressing, and whether to have lima beans or peas, and that was it. I wasn't in a hurry but had things planned in my mind, and it all turned out well.

Well, you may be wondering, did you at least have any kind of a theme going, since you're a mythologist? The truth is, no, I didn't. I don't even have any Thanksgiving decor to speak of, except for a single glass goblet with autumn leaves on it that I used for my iced tea. I thought about hauling out my ceramic Halloween pumpkin and turning it backwards, but that hardly seemed worth the time; I considered gathering some autumn leaves and putting them in a vase, but it was too damp out. I do cook my turkey in a clay pot that kind of resembles something that might be found in the ruins of Pompeii and adds a slightly incongruous note to a Pilgrim meal, but that's about it. I hauled a small art glass lamp into the kitchen to supplement the candlelight and put on some quiet music, including a CD of medieval banquet music by the Newberry Consort.

You're wondering now about the pie. Well, it was very good, though different from what I was expecting, being more like a cake in a pie crust than a traditional pie. It was unusual and quite delicious--as was everything. I'm not sure if it's really similar to something a colonial innkeeper would have served; I tend to think chocolate may have been a luxury in those days and not something an innkeeper would have used as a matter of course, but I could be wrong. I'm not sure how much my meal resembled something the colonists would have eaten in any respect, but it doesn't matter. Enjoying what you have is what matters.

I did the dishes in stages, am still enjoying some music on the stereo, and have put my leftovers away. Not a single political argument to be had, I didn't have to watch football on TV, and no one offended me by not eating enough. That's it for Thanksgiving on my end, and I wish all you Pilgrims out there a happy holiday, wherever you may be.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

What's Hubris Again?

Here in post-election America, life goes on, as it usually does, and Starbucks is filled with just as many earnest conversations conducted at ear-splitting levels as it was before. I don't know what compels people to believe that what they have to say is So Vitally Important as to override the rules of common civility, but there it is: that's what ear plugs are for. I've made liberal use of mine lately.

Even with all the hubbub at the coffeehouse this afternoon, I finished the book I was reading, Thomas Moore's The Soul's Religion, which I've been reading off and on for a while now. One of the book's themes is the author's idea of the importance of bringing religion and secular life together--not in the sense of imbuing society with the trappings of any particular faith but by way of encouraging people to cultivate a sense of connection to "all of life" through ordinary, purposeful living. In other words, the way to the sacred lies in everyday life.

Mr. Moore describes his complex relationship to Catholicism and his sense that organized religion best serves as a backup to a profoundly individual exploration of soul and spirituality. He touches several times on the point that institutions dedicated to serving people's spiritual needs are no more immune to hubris and misuse than any other endeavor; in fact, they have their own particular problems with overreach and abuse of power. I think Mr. Moore has more faith than I do in the positive effects of shared, communal religion, but he clearly sees the connection between over-reliance on authority and loss of authenticity and self-determination. He points out the special hazards that passive submission to institutional agents, strictures, and systems of belief can bring--spiritual leaders have their own brand of bullying that relies on people's faith to take advantage of them.

This discussion of the need to question the motives, methods, and effects of religious authority is important. I think it extends to all institutions, whether they are political, educational, medical, governmental, financial, or otherwise. Believing that matters affecting you are too complex for you to understand and that therefore someone else must know better is giving someone else too much power. Our society is set up to require participation from citizens. The ability to even form an opinion in the first place requires you to stay informed at at least a minimal level.

It may seem ironic that having said all this (and actually believing it), I was unable to pick a presidential candidate in this year's election, but not making a choice is also a decision. I'm familiar with the idea that it's often necessary to hold your nose and push one button or the other, but I have more sympathy now with the notion of withholding support as also being a powerful choice. Being uncommitted at the polls in no way negates the other citizen obligations of staying informed and holding those in power accountable.

I tend to distrust institutions, despite knowing that they're necessary and can accomplish good things. Big institutions accrue power, and power corrupts, as Lord Acton has told us. I'm often sorry to see someone I admire throw their hat into presidential politics because I think it takes an exceptional person to resist the temptations of the office (the same thing is true of all positions of high authority, of course, from senators to Cabinet officials). I think our system of government is a pretty good one, but as our country has grown from a young upstart into the most powerful nation in the world, the power it wields has grown exponentially, and the need to find the best people we can to wield that power is more important than it ever was. Not that we always succeed, or should expect that we will.

To go back to Mr. Moore's discussion of the Church, it's instructive to consider how a movement that began so simply, with one man who influenced others profoundly with his teachings, has grown into a huge hierarchy of enormous wealth, tremendous spiritual authority, and great temporal power. People will argue that such a structure is necessary to administer the Church's activities around the world, and that may be, but I'm always struck by the profound difference between what it started out to be and what it is now. There's something in the enormity of the institution that seems to work against the simplicity of the original teachings. If it essentially boils down to "Do Unto Others," then what's all the pomp and circumstance for?

Likewise, our government: It's "We, the people," right? I understand that we give symbolic weight to the rituals, procedures, ceremonies, buildings, and other accoutrements of our governmental institutions because they represent our society's important ideals, and I'm OK with that. A great idea like democratic society deserves a good display. But the display is never more important than the thing itself, and institutions that don't serve their purpose shouldn't be respected just because they wear the face of respectability. Are they living up to their ideals, more or less? That's all I want to know.

Speaking for myself, it's a relief to be done with robocalls, yard signs, and opinion masquerading as news (actually, I guess we're never free of that). The outcome has resulted in protests and a renewed discussion of the Electoral College, which is all to the good. The election itself was only the beginning of something new, and it ushered in at least one significant change: the president-elect has never held political office, and although he has headed a powerful organization, he's coming from the world of business (and entertainment), not the world of government. Many people have been wanting a change like this for a long time, even if Mr. Trump wouldn't have been their first choice, and it will be interesting to see how a business leader takes on the office of president. One thing you can say about Mr. Trump: he knows how to take center stage.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

After the Deluge

I'm writing a short post this week, because the only possible topic is the just-concluded presidential election, and I don't really want to write about it. A lot of people are still sorting through recent events, and I include myself in that number. After following the election closely for many months and reading news from a variety of different sources, trying hard to assess all the candidates, I found I was no more able to make a choice on Tuesday than I would have been a year and a half ago. I considered and re-considered Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump from many angles and decided in the end to refrain from voting; that is, I did vote, but it was only to turn in a blank ballot.

I know that adherents of both candidates have strong feelings about their party's standard-bearer; judging from the popular vote, about half of Americans are feeling very relieved and the other half very anxious right now. I have been quite critical of Mrs. Clinton in the past and found in the end that I still could not get past the trust issues I had with her. With Mr. Trump, I have been alternately bemused, bewildered, and annoyed, never able to decide for sure what his motivations might be but feeling that there was more to the situation than met the eye. To this date, I still don't have any answers to the riddle of Mr. Trump.

No theologian could have sorted--with a fine-tooth comb--the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin with more attention than I've paid to the political news. I made tentative assumptions, some of which were unorthodox, about nearly all of the candidates, or at least the major ones. I found that in some cases, while people seemed to be saying all the right things, I doubted their sincerity; in other cases, where I disagreed with people's positions, I liked them better as people. Apparently, this puts me in approximately the same situation as many other Americans, who either crossed party lines or voted reluctantly for one person simply because they disliked someone else much more.

I congratulate everyone who was able to make a choice; you're one up on me. I found that no matter how much I tried to account for the filters through which I was viewing information, I still couldn't come to a definite conclusion. The only thing I'm sure of is that a certain amount of skepticism is a healthy thing, even if you do manage to make a choice. I'm not saying that not making a choice is better. Obviously, someone has to be elected. Everyone, however, has to vote his or her conscience, and mine simply would not let me land on either side.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Candy Corn Tea Candle

So Halloween has come and gone already, along with All Saints' and All Souls' days. Last year, I wrote about my perception that Halloween is largely centered on children in the United States and that adults, unless they like costume parties, are mostly relegated to the sidelines. Now, you may be thinking, "Well, she doesn't have kids, but she does have a mythology degree, so she probably does something spectacular like research hauntings or attend storytelling sessions in graveyards."

Here's what I actually did: I spent this Halloween much as I normally do, with maybe a tiny bit more flair. I'd been having so much fun with Halloween baking that I was inspired to decorate, too, which consisted of hunting down the little ceramic jack o'lantern I have in my kitchen cabinet and installing in it a candy corn-scented tea candle (bought on sale for 50 cents at the grocery store, and a bargain, too, because it still hasn't burned out).

The biggest quandary that night concerned my evening walk. It was a mild, summery day, and I was torn between a wish to soak up some late afternoon sun and an interest in waiting a little later to see the neighborhood's Halloween lights to better advantage. I ended up going earlier rather than later, deciding it was better to leave the sidewalks to the trick-or-treaters who would probably be emerging around six o'clock. As it was, I encountered one early group of tots in full regalia shepherded by several adults, which brought back memories of how much fun I had at that age. While I'm sure I wasn't having as exciting a time as they were, I was pretty happy just to be walking around on such a splendid evening, under a golden sky and trees on fire with yellow and orange leaves.

Then I had monkey bread for dinner. This is an autumnal delicacy that consists of sausage, cooked apples, cheddar cheese, and diced-up biscuit dough all tumbled together; it reminds me of a party appetizer a friend used to make, except that it's a main dish (I had vegetables, too, like a responsible adult). After dinner, I took a glass of milk and a plate of cookies to the living room, lit the tea candle, and turned on the stereo. I don't have any Halloween music, but I mixed some classical and folk music together. I have Vivaldi's The Four Seasons and I have Tchaikovsky, and though the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture has nothing to do with Halloween, it's passionate and fiery and seemed to set the right tone. I also lit a candle in my metal candle holder with the crescent moon and star cutouts (bought years ago in a North Carolina mountain town). I have a few battery-operated candles, too, and turned some of those on so that I was sitting partly in lamplight and partly in candlelight. When the music was finished, I went to bed.

All in all, it was a pleasant evening. If you're wondering where the extra flair came in, I would say it was probably in even thinking to put candles out and in trying for a little atmospheric music, in small touches of Halloween spirit rather than in trying to go all out. As an adult, I've been to costume parties and corn mazes and even to a haunted house (once, in college). I have never found that any of those activities measured up to the fun of Halloween in childhood, so I'm content to leave the field to the kids. As long as they're happy, I'm happy.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Idylls and Loss

I spent this last week reading Richard Llewellyn's novel, How Green Was My Valley. I seem to remember it being included on a reading list in one of my high school English classes, but I was never drawn to it. The title seemed to suggest a certain degree of sentimentality, and indeed "sentimentalizing" is one of the charges laid against it, along with misrepresentation of Welsh life and an insular outlook on certain topics. What I think it does most memorably is present a portrait of a close-knit family, and that was what sustained my interest. Regardless of any of its shortcomings, I wanted to find out what would happen to the people.

This is an instance of a book that doesn't deal overtly with mythological characters but has at its center a mythic theme, the loss of paradise. The narrator mentions Adam and Eve and the expulsion from the garden several times, seeing in that story the source and foreshadowing of his own early experiences with sexuality. This narrator, Huw Morgan, the youngest son in a family of nine children, recognizes the loss of innocence that comes with the first fumbling knowledge of adulthood, but the entire novel is preoccupied with the archetype of loss.

From repeated descriptions of the ways in which the valley's beauty is being eroded by growing slag heaps to the narrator's experience of adulthood not being quite what he had bargained for to the eventual parting of the ways of family members, the novel is full of reminders of an original state of grace that can't be sustained. Early in the story, various family members, particularly the boys, leave home only to return, or if they go for good, don't go far, perhaps to the next valley or the farm over the mountain. When several of the boys, at odds with their father over their views on unionizing, leave the house to take lodgings down the road (followed by their younger sister), the episode becomes a poignant illustration of the mother's role in holding the family together. Eventually, though, forces of change in the valley, along with the characters' own inner callings, break up the idyllic home life.

Much of the novel is taken up with accounts of Huw's education, both at home and at school. The family has high hopes for the future of their intellectually gifted youngest son, and there is an assumption that he will eventually win a scholarship and go off to university. I have to admit to feeling disappointed in Huw when he decided to follow his father into the colliery. While various family members and friends try to dissuade Huw from becoming a miner, his mother is all in favor of keeping him at home. At that point, I confess, the warm family life started to feel a bit claustrophobic, despite my liking for the characters. My assumption (which would be shared by most readers, I think) was that Huw would leave home to become something else and return as a teacher, a doctor, or a man of letters. But even his fateful decision does not stave off the changes that economic forces, disappointed love, and death eventually bring to the family.

Is the novel a tragedy? Yes, probably, but only in the same way all family stories are. The novel made me think about a conversation I had with my aunt about how connected our family used to seem when my grandparents were still alive and how far apart everyone has grown since then (I'm not talking about an idyllic family, just one that got together regularly). She told me that the death of parents had the power to change relationships among even the closest siblings, something I wasn't quite sure I agreed with. The story of the Morgans, however, illustrates ways in which separation is inevitable and possibly even desirable. Whether the Morgan children leave the valley to pursue their dreams, find their fortunes, or merely to flee thwarted hopes, they're now in a position to begin new stories of their own.

Huw acknowledges that his brothers were right to leave the valley before tensions among the miners intensified, tensions in which they would undoubtedly have been caught up had they remained. Perhaps the breaking of family ties provides some insulation for those who have begun to build new lives elsewhere. Or perhaps not--for a family as close as the Morgans, there would be no forgetting their early happiness, especially if their later lives proved disappointing. About individual fates, however, the end of the novel is largely silent.

I have wondered sometimes whether or not an idyllic family life, if there is such a thing, is an advantage or a disadvantage. Sometimes it seems to me that having a less-than-ideal home life might actually be helpful in some ways, making the inevitable break with home easier. Perhaps most people, regardless of the kind of family life they've had, are happy to leave home when their time comes, and the Morgans are an exception. I've never known a family quite like them, though certain aspects of their story seemed familiar. I remember big family meals, with everyone crowded around the table, and good food.

Aside from that, I'd still like to see Wales, regardless of whether there are any Morgans there or not. Apparently, it is still quite green and is still fertile ground for myths and legends of all kinds, as it has been for centuries.