AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

28 March 2016

Jim Harrison, R.I.P

My sensei has passed.


You have to follow the affections of your heart and the truth of your imagination.  Otherwise, you will feel badly.

Jim Harrison

24 March 2016

Keith, "Eileen"

Always.

And, colonel ... know that I will tell my men always to gallop toward the enemy … but trot away.

Happy birthday, Morris.

Morris, Red House doorway, 1860


William Morris was born on this day in 1834.

Fair was the morn to-day, the blossom's scent
Floated across the fresh grass, and the bees
With low vexed song from rose to lily went,
A gentle wind was in the heavy trees,
And thine eyes shone with joyous memories;
Fair was the early morn, and fair wert thou,
And I was happy—Ah, be happy now!
   Peace and content without us, love within
That hour there was, now thunder and wild rain,
Have wrapped the cowering world, and foolish sin,
And nameless pride, have made us wise in vain;
Ah, love! although the morn shall come again,
And on new rose-buds the new sun shall smile,
Can we regain what we have lost meanwhile?

   E’en now the west grows clear of storm and threat,
But midst the lightning did the fair sun die—
—Ah he shall rise again for ages yet,
He cannot waste his life—but thou and I—
Who knows if next morn this felicity
My lips may feel, or if thou still shalt live
This seal of love renewed once more to give?

William Morris, from "July" in The Earthly Paradise

Black.


It is the Black Flag, and that alone, that will bring the invaders of our hearth and home to their senses. No quarter should be asked for and none should be given ... the Black Flag, sir!

Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson

See.

Pissarro, A Path through the Woods, Pontoise, 1879


Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where others see nothing.

Camille Pissarro

Deliver.


52. You shall likewise know that according to Law, the nature of this universe flows through all things alike,

53. So that you shall not hope for what you ought not to hope; and nothing in this world shall be hidden from you.

54. You will likewise know that human beings bring on their own misfortunes, voluntarily and of their own free choice.

55. Unhappy that they are! They neither see nor understand that what is best for them is within them.

56. Few know how to deliver themselves out of their misfortunes.

57. Such is the fate that blinds humanity, and takes away their senses.

58. Like huge barrels they roll to and fro, always oppressed with innumerable problems.

59. For fatal strife, seemingly innate, pursues them everywhere, tossing them up and down; nor do they perceive this.

60. Instead of provoking and stirring up strife, they ought, by yielding, to avoid it.

Beppe Gambetta, "Handsome Molly"

23 March 2016

D-wight Lightnin', "Wheels"

Long-lost.

Caravaggio, Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy, 1606 


A long-lost painting by Caravaggio is being shown to the public for the first time.

Merle Haggard, "The Running Kind/I'm a Lonesome Fugitive"

The Running Kind

I was born the running kind
With leaving always on my mind
Home was never home to me at anytime
Every front door found me hopin'
I would find the back door open
There just had to be an exit
For the running kind


Within me there's a prison
Surrounding me alone
As real as any dungeon with walls of stone
I know running's not the answer
But running's been my nature
And a part of me
That keeps me moving on


I was born the running kind
With leaving always on my mind
Home was never home to me at anytime
Every front door found me hopin'
I would find the back door open
There just had to be an exit
For the running kind


I'm a Lonesome Fugitive

Down every road there's always one more city
I'm on the run, the highway is my home
I raised a lot of cane back in my younger days
While Mama used to pray my crops would fail
I'm a hunted fugitive with just two ways:
Outrun the law or spend my life in jail

I'd like to settle down but they won't let me
A fugitive must be a rolling stone
Down every road there's always one more city
I'm on the run, the highway is my home

I'm lonely but I can't afford the luxury
Of having one I love to come along
She'd only slow me down and they'd catch up with me
For he who travels fastest goes alone

I'd like to settle down but they won't let me
A fugitive must be a rolling stone
Down every road there's always one more city
I'm on the run, the highway is my home

Moods.


In some moods they wrote as if they craved the peace and quiescence of a settled life; at other points, they couldn’t help raging against the good, settled people who’d left them moldering behind bars. For the outlaw poet, there have always been particular difficulties involved in deciding how palatable a poem should be; how much it should conform to a reader’s expectations; how smooth it should go down.

CONNECT

Map.


Though mankind has managed to navigate itself across the globe and into outer space, it has done so in defiance of our innate way-finding capacities (not to mention survival instincts), which are still those of forest-dwelling homebodies. Other species use far more sophisticated cognitive methods to orient themselves. Dung beetles follow the Milky Way; the Cataglyphis desert ant dead-reckons by counting its paces; monarch butterflies, on their thousand-mile, multigenerational flight from Mexico to the Rocky Mountains, calculate due north using the position of the sun, which requires accounting for the time of day, the day of the year and latitude; honeybees, newts, spiny lobsters, sea turtles and many others read magnetic fields. Last year, the fact of a ‘‘magnetic sense’’ was confirmed when Russian scientists put reed warblers in a cage that simulated different magnetic locations and found that the warblers always tried to fly ‘‘home’’ relative to whatever the programmed coordinates were. Precisely how the warblers detected these coordinates remains unclear. As does, for another example, the uncanny capacity of godwits to hatch from their eggs in Alaska and, alone, without ever stopping, take off for French Polynesia. Clearly they and other long-distance migrants inherit a mental map and the ability to constantly recalibrate it. What it looks like in their mind’s eye, however, and how it is maintained day and night, across thousands of miles, is still a mystery.

Efforts to scientifically deduce the neurological underpinnings of navigational abilities in humans and other species arguably began in 1948. An American psychologist named Edward Tolman made the heretical assertion that rats, until then regarded as mere slaves to behavioral reinforcement or punishment, create ‘‘cognitive maps’’ of their habitat. Tolman let rats accustom themselves to a maze with food at the end; then, leaving the food in the same spot, he rearranged the walls to introduce shortcuts — which the rodents took to reach the reward. This suggested that their sampling of various routes had given them a picture of the maze as a whole. Tolman hypothesized that humans have cognitive maps, too, and that they are not just spatial but social. ‘‘Broad cognitive maps,’’ he posited, lead to empathy, while narrow ones lead to ‘‘dangerous hates of outsiders,’’ ranging from ‘‘discrimination against minorities to world conflagrations.’’ Indeed, anthropologists today, especially those working in the Western Pacific, are increasingly aware of the potential ways in which people’s physical environment — and how they habitually move through it — may shape their social relationships and how those ties may in turn influence their orienteering.

The cognitive map is now understood to have its own physical location, as a collection of electrochemical firings in the brain. In 1971, John O’Keefe, a neuroscientist at University College London, and a colleague reported that it had been pinpointed in the limbic system, an evolutionarily primitive region largely responsible for our emotional lives — specifically, within the hippocampus, an area where memories form. When O’Keefe implanted electrodes in rats’ hippocampuses and measured their neural activity as they traveled through a maze, he detected ‘‘place cells’’ firing to mark their positions. In 1984, James B. Ranck Jr., a physiologist at the State University of New York, identified cells in an adjacent part of the brain that became active depending on the direction a rat’s head was pointing — here was a kind of compass. And in 2005, building on these discoveries, Edvard and May-Britt Moser, neuroscientists at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in Norway, found that our brains overlay our surroundings with a pattern of triangles. Any time we reach an apex of one, a ‘‘grid cell’’ in an area of the brain in constant dialogue with the hippocampus delineates our position relative to the rest of the matrix. In 2014, O’Keefe and the Mosers shared a Nobel Prize for their discoveries of this ‘‘inner GPS’’ that constantly and subconsciously computes location.

The discovery that human orientation takes place in memory’s seat — researchers have long known that damage to the hippocampus can cause amnesia — has raised the tantalizing prospect of a link between the two. In the late 1990s, Eleanor Maguire, a neuroscientist at University College London, began studying London taxi drivers, who must memorize the city’s complex layout to obtain a license. Eventually, she showed that when cabbies frequently access and revise their cognitive map, parts of their hippocampuses become larger; when they retire, those parts shrink. By contrast, following a sequence of directional instructions, as we do when using GPS, does not activate the hippocampus at all, according to work done by Veronique Bohbot, a cognitive neuroscientist at McGill University.

Bohbot and others are now trying to determine what effect, if any, the repeated bypassing of this region of the brain might be having on us. The hippocampus is one of the first areas disrupted by Alzheimer’s disease, an early symptom of which is disorientation; shrinkage in the hippocampus and neighboring regions appears to increase the risk of depression, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder. On the other hand, the taxi drivers who exercised their hippocampuses so much that parts of them changed size were worse at other memory tasks — and their performance on those improved after they retired. Few of us spend all day every day navigating, however, as cabbies do, and Maguire doubts that our GPS use is extreme enough to transform our gray matter.

What seems clear is that our ability to navigate is inextricably tied not just to our ability to remember the past but also to learning, decision-making, imagining and planning for the future. And though our sense of direction often feels innate, it may develop — and perhaps be modified — in a region of the brain called the retrosplenial cortex, next to the hippocampus, which becomes active when we investigate and judge the permanence of landmarks. In 2012, Maguire and co-authors published their finding that an accurate understanding of whether a landmark is likely to stay put separates good navigators from poor ones, who are as apt to take cues from an idling delivery truck as a church steeple. The retrosplenial cortex passes our decisions about the stability of objects to the hippocampus, where their influence on way-finding intersects with other basic cognitive skills that, like memory, are as crucial to identity as to survival.

Jerry Jeff Walker, "Desperados Waiting for a Train"

If we’re always rehearsing our problems in our heads we’re not being attentive to what’s actually taking place in our lives.

Jim Harrison

We closed our eyes and dreamed us up a kitchen.  Guy Clark poetry ...

Notice.


The light along the hills in the morning
comes down slowly, naming the trees
white, then coasting the ground for stones to nominate.

Notice what this poem is not doing.

A house, a house, a barn, the old
quarry, where the river shrugs—
how much of this place is yours?

Notice what this poem is not doing.

Every person gone has taken a stone
to hold, and catch the sun. The carving
says, “Not here, but called away.”

Notice what this poem is not doing.

The sun, the earth, the sky, all wait.
The crowns and redbirds talk. The light
along the hills has come, has found you.

Notice what this poem has not done.

William Stafford

Beyond.


As the only person who ever has lived my life, I know that most of it can never be documented, is beyond writing and beyond words.

Wendell Berry

CONNECT

Fuse.

Oudry, Hare and a Leg of Lamb, 1742


In placid hours well-pleased we dream
Of many a brave unbodied scheme.
But form to lend, pulsed life create,
What unlike things must meet and mate:
A flame to melt—a wind to freeze;
Sad patience—joyous energies;
Humility—yet pride and scorn;
Instinct and study; love and hate;
Audacity—reverence. These must mate,
And fuse with Jacob’s mystic heart,
To wrestle with the angel—Art.

Herman Melville

22 March 2016

Ministry.


Frost at Midnight

The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet's cry
Came loud—and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
'Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,

Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.

                      But O! how oft,
How oft, at school, with most believing mind,
Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars,
To watch that fluttering stranger ! and as oft
With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt
Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower,
Whose bells, the poor man's only music, rang
From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day,
So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me
With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear
Most like articulate sounds of things to come!
So gazed I, till the soothing things, I dreamt,
Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams!
And so I brooded all the following morn,
Awed by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye
Fixed with mock study on my swimming book:
Save if the door half opened, and I snatched
A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up,
For still I hoped to see the stranger's face,
Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved,
My play-mate when we both were clothed alike!

         Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,
Fill up the intersperséd vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought!
My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes! For I was reared
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.

         Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the night-thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Moon.

Schneider, Moon Night, 1906


silently if, out of not knowable
night’s utmost nothing, wanders a little guess
(only which is this world) more of my life does
not leap than with the mystery your smile

sings or if (spiraling as luminous
they climb oblivion)voices who are dreams,
less into heaven certainly earth swims
than each my deeper death becomes your kiss

losing through you what seemed myself;i find
selves unimaginably mine;beyond
sorrow’s own joys and hoping’s very fears

yours is the light by which my spirit’s born:
yours is the darkness of my soul’s return
–you are my sun,my moon,and all my stars

e.e. cummings

Jay Farrar, "Big Sur"

Settling down with warm-glow wood stove and kerosene
Peace you're looking for, peace you'll find
In the tangled mad cliff-sides and crashing dark of Big Sur
Rapturous ring of silence pacific fury flashing on the rocks, the sea shroud towers
The innocence of health and stillness in the wild of Big Sur

Involved.


Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

I
Among twenty snowy mountains,   
The only moving thing   
Was the eye of the blackbird.   

II
I was of three minds,   
Like a tree   
In which there are three blackbirds.   

III
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.   
It was a small part of the pantomime.   

IV
A man and a woman   
Are one.   
A man and a woman and a blackbird   
Are one.   

V
I do not know which to prefer,   
The beauty of inflections   
Or the beauty of innuendoes,   
The blackbird whistling   
Or just after.   

VI
Icicles filled the long window   
With barbaric glass.   
The shadow of the blackbird   
Crossed it, to and fro.   
The mood   
Traced in the shadow   
An indecipherable cause.   

VII
O thin men of Haddam,   
Why do you imagine golden birds?   
Do you not see how the blackbird   
Walks around the feet   
Of the women about you?   

VIII
I know noble accents   
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;   
But I know, too,   
That the blackbird is involved   
In what I know.   

IX
When the blackbird flew out of sight,   
It marked the edge   
Of one of many circles.   

X
At the sight of blackbirds   
Flying in a green light,   
Even the bawds of euphony   
Would cry out sharply.   

XI
He rode over Connecticut   
In a glass coach.   
Once, a fear pierced him,   
In that he mistook   
The shadow of his equipage   
For blackbirds.   

XII
The river is moving.   
The blackbird must be flying.   

XIII
It was evening all afternoon.   
It was snowing   
And it was going to snow.   
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Wallace Stevens

Detox.


What I use to detox myself from the public world is a lot of walking in remote areas, but I also use Mozart and Rilke, so I suppose if you find yourself properly attuned and you spend a lot of time around [wild animals], you have at least the illusion that you're communicating with them on some fundamental level. I'm not going to get goofy about it, like you have all these poor souls who think they're communicating with dolphins and so on ... the dolphins don't need to talk to them. They should know that right away.

Me.

You can't fool me ...

David Lindley & El Rayo-X, "Quarter of a Man"

Purgatory.


Eggs in Purgatory

Ingredients
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Gaeta olives, pitted but left whole
1 (28-ounce) can peeled tomatoes, juices drained and set aside for another use, tomatoes cut into 1/2-inch strips
Salt
10 eggs
1 bunch basil, cut into chiffonade
1/4 cup caciotta, freshly grated

Directions
In a 12 to 14-inch non-stick saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat until just smoking. Add the onion and cook 7 to 9 minutes, until softened and light brown. Add the olives and tomatoes, season lightly with salt, and cook slowly for 18 to 20 minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down.

Carefully crack the eggs into the pan, keeping them whole and separated. Cover with a lid or foil and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until the whites have set but the yolk is still runny. Sprinkle basil and grated cheese over and serve from the pan on the table.


Mario Batali

Ajar.

Scrolls.


Lead often gets a bad press. But its discovery in ancient Graeco-Roman ink could make it easier to read an early form of publishing – precious scrolls buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

Some 800 scrolls, part of the classical world’s best-surviving library, have tantalized scholars since they were unearthed in a villa in the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum in 1752. About 200 are in such a delicate state that they have never been read.

Unrolling the charred scrolls can destroy them, so people have been X-raying the bundles in the hopes of discerning the writing inside. But progress has been slow – it is difficult to detect the difference between the letters and the papyrus they are written on.

Now physicist Vito Mocella of the Italian National Research Council and his colleagues have revealed lead in the ink on two Herculaneum papyri fragments held in the Institute of France in Paris.

The presence of lead means that imaging techniques could be recalibrated to pick up the metal, something at which X-rays excel.

CONNECT

Happy birthday, van Dyck.

van Dyck, François Langlois, 1633


Anthony van Dyck was born on this day in 1599.

Give.


How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people -- first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.

Albert Einstein

CONNECT

Jimmy Buffett with Jerry Jeff Walker, "A Pirate Looks at Forty"

Heading to Providenciales ...

Today.

1974.

Real.

Webb, O'Keeffe Studio, 1963


Nothing is less real than realism.  Details are confusing.  It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.

Georgia O'Keeffe

21 March 2016

America, "Moon Song"

Music.


Did you hear that winter’s over? The basil
and the carnations cannot control their

laughter. The nightingale, back from his
wandering, has been made singing master

over the birds. The trees reach out their
congratulations. The soul goes dancing

through the king’s doorway. Anemones blush
because they have seen the rose naked.

Spring, the only fair judge, walks in the
courtroom, and several December thieves steal

away, Last year’s miracles will soon be
forgotten. New creatures whirl in from non-

existence, galaxies scattered around their
feet. Have you met them? Do you hear the

bud of Jesus crooning in the cradle? A single
narcissus flower has been appointed Inspector

of Kingdoms. A feast is set. Listen: the
wind is pouring wine! Love used to hide

inside images: no more! The orchard hangs
out its lanterns. The dead come stumbling by

in shrouds. Nothing can stay bound or be
imprisoned. You say, “End this poem here,

and wait for what’s next.” I will. Poems
are rough notations for the music we are.

Rumi

Dog.

Always.


The world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost. Light at the blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us. It disperses among the molecules of the air, it scatters in water. Water is colorless, shallow water appears to be the color of whatever lies underneath it, but deep water is full of this scattered light, the purer the water the deeper the blue. The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue at the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance. This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue.

For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go. For the blue is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in the atmospheric distance between you and the mountains. "Longing," says the poet Robert Hass, "because desire is full of endless distances." Blue is the color of longing for the distances you never arrive in, for the blue world. One soft humid early spring morning driving a winding road across Mount Tamalpais, the 2,500-foot mountain just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, a bend reveals a sudden vision of San Francisco in shades of blue, a city in a dream, and I am filled with a tremendous yearning to live in that place of blue hills and blue buildings, though I do live there, I just left there after breakfast, and the brown coffee and yellow eggs and green traffic lights filled me with no such desire, and besides I was there already and was looking forward to going hiking on the mountain's west slope.

We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take a huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away.

Rebecca Solnit, from The Field Guide to Getting Lost

Deviation.


Well I think that progress is not possible without deviation. And I think that it’s important that people be aware of some of the creative ways in which some of their fellow men are deviating from the norm, because in some instances they might find these deviations inspiring and might suggest further deviations which might cause progress, you never know.

Frank Zappa

Technique


Technique is the proof of your seriousness.

Wallace Stevens

20 March 2016

New Order, "Ceremony"

Courage.


Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.

Anaïs Nin

Experience.


Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

Helen Keller

Seriously.

Handel, "Jubilate Deo"/Bach, Magnificat

Jordi Savall throwing high octane racing fuel at The Palace of Versailles ...

Passages.


Two weeks before the end of the term, the sky lightened suddenly to a dazzling, opaline white and the muddy grounds were revealed one morning covered in glittering frost. Inside the castle, there was a buzz of Christmas in the air. Professor Flitwick, the Charms teacher, had already decorated his classroom with shimmering lights that turned out to be real, fluttering fairies. The students were all happily discussing their plans for the holidays. Both Ron and Hermione had decided to remain at Hogwarts, and though Ron said it was because he couldn't stand two weeks with Percy, and Hermione insisted she needed to use the library, Harry wasn't fooled; they were doing it to keep him company, and he was very grateful.

To everyone's delight except Harry's, there was to be another Hogsmeade trip on the very last weekend of the term.

"We can do all our Christmas shopping there!" said Hermione. "Mum and Dad would really love those Toothflossing Stringmints from Honeydukes!"

Resigned to the fact that he would be the only third year staying behind again, Harry borrowed a copy of Which Broomstick from Wood, and decided to spend the day reading up on the different makes. He had been riding one of the school brooms at team practice, an ancient Shooting Star, which was very slow and jerky; he definitely needed a new broom of his own.

On the Saturday morning of the Hogsmeade trip, Harry bid good-bye to Ron and Hermione, who were wrapped in cloaks and scarves, then turned up the marble staircase alone, and headed back toward Gryffindor Tower. Snow had started to fall outside the windows, and the castle was very still and quiet.

"Psst -- Harry!"

He turned, halfway along the third-floor corridor, to see Fred and George peering out at him from behind a statue of a humpbacked, one-eyed witch.

"What are you doing?" said Harry curiously. "How come you're not going to Hogsmeade?"

"We've come to give you a bit of festive cheer before we go," said Fred, with a mysterious wink. "Come in here..."

He nodded toward an empty classroom to the left of the one-eyed statue. Harry followed Fred and George inside. George closed the door quietly and then turned, beaming, to look at Harry.

"Early Christmas present for you, Harry," he said.

Fred pulled something from inside his cloak with a flourish and laid it on one of the desks. It was a large, square, very worn piece of parchment with nothing written on it. Harry, suspecting one of Fred and George's jokes, stared at it.

"What's that supposed to be?"

"This, Harry, is the secret of our success," said George, patting the parchment fondly.

"It's a wrench, giving it to you," said Fred, "but we decided last night, your need's greater than ours."

"Anyway, we know it by heart," said George. "We bequeath it to you. We don't really need it anymore."

"And what do I need with a bit of old parchment?" said Harry.

"A bit of old parchment!" said Fred, closing his eyes with a grimace as though Harry had mortally offended him. "Explain, George."

"Well...when we were in our first year, Harry -- young, carefree, and innocent --"

Harry snorted. He doubted whether Fred and George had ever been innocent.

"¨C well, more innocent than we are now -- we got into a spot of bother with Filch."

"We let off a Dungbomb in the corridor and it upset him for some reason --"

"So he hauled us off to his office and started threatening us with the usual --"

"-- detention --"

"-- disembowelment --"

"-- and we couldn't help noticing a drawer in one of his filing cabinets marked Confiscated and Highly Dangerous."

"Don't tell me --" said Harry, starting to grin.

"Well, what would you've done?" said Fred. "George caused a diversion by dropping another Dungbomb, I whipped the drawer open, and grabbed -- this."

"It's not as bad as it sounds, you know," said George. "We don't reckon Filch ever found out how to work it. He probably suspected what it was, though, or he wouldn't have confiscated it."

"And you know how to work it?"

"Oh yes," said Fred, smirking. "This little beauty's taught us more than all the teachers in this school."

"You're winding me up," said Harry, looking at the ragged old bit of parchment.

"Oh, are we?" said George.

He took out his wand, touched the parchment lightly, and said, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."

And at once, thin ink lines began to spread like a spider's web from the point that George's wand had touched. They joined each other, they crisscrossed, they fanned into every corner of the parchment; then words began to blossom across the top, great, curly green words, that proclaimed:

Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs
Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers
are proud to present

THE MARAUDER'S MAP

It was a map showing every detail of the Hogwarts castle and grounds. But the truly remarkable thing were the tiny ink dots moving around it, each labeled with a name in minuscule writing. Astounded, Harry bent over it. A labeled dot in the top left corner showed that Professor Dumbledore was pacing his study; the caretaker's cat, Mrs. Norris, was prowling the second floor; and Peeves the Poltergeist was currently bouncing around the trophy room. And as Harry's eyes traveled up and down the familiar corridors, he noticed something else.

This map showed a set of passages he had never entered. And many of them seemed to lead --


CONNECT