Gateways of the Morning and the Evening
This sunset burned its way into my memory last week, and I think I’d better start a series on this blog that’s dedicated solely to these. They just keep getting more spectacular. I’m not sure what the phenomenon is called, but the vapor in the air sent the light up in a pillar, making the sun really seem the “candle of the world.” I don’t think the camera does it justice here, but if you look closely, you can see what I’m talking about.
A few weeks ago, my father sent me his monthly journal—something we’ve been exchanging during my time out here. He reads my blog, and I read his diary entries that he bundles up and sends to me by traditional mail. In it he quoted a psalm: “Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs; you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.” Unless I’m mistaken, this is more than a shout…this is a yawp, and a barbaric one at that (see Walt Whitman for that last reference).
The “gateways” of the morning and the evening keep creeping closer together now that we’ve hit November, and I can’t pretend that getting up for school isn’t getting harder by the day; especially when you’re fire has gone out and you can see your breath inside the ger. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I’ve gotten pretty damn good at this whole coal burning stove thing, and it’s a source of pride when I can haphazardly throw a roaring fire together without thinking too hard about it. I feel very…well…Mongolian, I guess. My only source of embarrassment in this department is that no matter what I do, I can never seem to get my fire started without my hands becoming covered in soot. No matter how many fires my colleagues must make, their hands are always immaculate. I always seem to smudge my face without my knowing too, and I’ve only got one tiny mirror that I don’t consult before heading to school, so I think I’ve got a reputation now as the dirty American. I usually show up with at least one black streak on my cheek or under my nose. There’s a gang of older female teachers who do an excellent job of taking care of me, and keeping my face clean is a part of it. One told me the other day that I look like her children after they’ve been outside—her children are 4 and 6.