Friendly Skies and Real Friends

Rosamond had business at the American Philosophical Association’s meeting in San Francisco, so we had to pollute the friendly skies. Odd phrase, that. It looks like a metaphor, but metaphors usually have nouns or verbs as their ground. Skies just aren’t the kind of thing that can be friendly. Neither can sties, pies, fries, ties. Lies, maybe, as something between friends. Flies no, but since dogs can be friendly (one wonders about cats), perhaps the friendliness of other animals is an empirical matter, not a conceptual one as is the case with friendly skies.

So what are they trying to say? Airlines can’t be friendly either. People can be friendly, so it must be the people at the ticket counter, the pilots, the flight attendants (but not necessarily the guys who load your luggage onto and off of the plane). But are these people friendly? Or, more to the point, more friendly than their counterparts at other airlines? Possibly to the first, doubtful to the second. Continue reading

A Short Walk with Terray

March 1963. I am living with Linnea in an eleven room apartment in Barcelona. The apartment is on the fifth floor, and at the front a small enclosed balcony overlooks the street below, overlooks the lamplighter as he comes at dusk to light the street lamps. He turns a gas valve at the base of the lamp and then reaches up with a long pole that has a flame on top to bring the light to life. Gas light has a soft but warm glow more conducive than electric light to walking quiet streets, especially if your life is suffused with romance. Linnea and I are not usually up when the lamplighter makes his rounds in the morning to turn off the gas.

Royal had written me, giving me the address in Barcelona of Manuel Anglada, one of the better Spanish climbers. Anglada and I got in touch, and he invited me to go with him and some other climbers for a weekend trip to Montserrat, an area north of Barcelona with many conglomerate domes, spires, and faces. As it happened, the great French climber, Lionel Terray, was also in Barcelona to show movies of his climbing and skiing adventures, and he would join us. Indeed, the trip was organized for him, not for me, but Anglada was a good fellow, and we got along well. Continue reading