Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Credit My Father

I Credit My Father

As punctual as daybreak, as constant as the tides, it is a memory that returns to me every single time I walk along a lonely beach at twilight.  The wonderfully reliable recollection floods my senses and I find that, once again, it takes no effort to see myself as I once was -  a little girl, holding the hand of my father, trying without success to match his stride in the sand as we strolled along in the light of a setting seaside sun.  We would stand with our eyes on the dark stripe of horizon as the sea stole the sand away beneath our bare feet, grain by grain, as though in an hourglass, causing us to sidestep to firmer footing every minute or so.  The wind would whip and whisper. And my Father would tell me stories.

“Look”, he’d say.  “Way out there.  As far as you can see, and then a bit more.  Can you see it?”

“See what?”, I’d ask, my little eyes squinting as they stared at that mysterious place where sea becomes sky.

“Oh, there’s so much to see”, he’d reply.  “There are creatures, way down in the water, creatures taller than buildings, creatures that can fill up the sky.  Monsters and heroes, angels and witches, good things and bad things.”

“Dogs?”, I would ask, hopefully.

“Maybe, “ came the reply.

And I would stare and stare, my eyes stinging, with my little heart throbbing halfway in hope and halfway in fear.   And just the night took over the day, I would squeal....”I think I can see it, Daddy!  I see someone walking out over the sea!  Someone really big!  Can you see him??”

“Of course I can, Squirt.  You bet I can.”

Sometimes at night when Edward lays quietly beside me as I read before bed, I catch him looking up at me, his big brown eyes a mirror of his devoted soul, and I’m almost certain he’s getting ready to speak.  There is a part of me that would not be at all surprised.  I watch the crowds in airports, wondering which of these people might be in disguise.  Which ones are angels?  Who is here from a different time?    I think the owls speak in a lyrical language I have yet to learn.  I think there just might be those around me I cannot see, busying themselves in work of which I know nothing.  I don’t have to talk myself into this way of seeing the world; it is as much as part of me as breathing.  And of course, I credit my Father.

My imagination was awakened on those seaside walks when I was little.  My Father told me stories that erased a flat and monochrome world forever, stories that sparked and crackled as they opened door after door in the halls of my mind, doors that, once opened, can never be closed.  When I weary of a world too often as insipid as it is cruel, it is to these rooms that I flee, finding comfort in the colour inside them - the light, the knowledge, the joy.

A couple of weeks ago, I stood again by the sea in the blue black light of approaching darkness.  My Father has been gone from this world seven years now, but just as he taught me all those years ago, I watched the horizon - staring hard, eyes stinging - in anticipation, hope, and a little bit of fear.  And just as the stars began to prick through the blue velvet sky, I could see him.  Walking along the ribbon of night - as tall as a giant, as solid as a rainbow.

“Do you see him, Daddy?
“You bet I do, honey.  You bet I do.”

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Goodbye to Summer

Goodbye to Summer

In May the letters sat there, enervated and mute, awaiting our attention.  We scooped them, gathered them up one by one, like bouquets of perfect dahlias, arranging them carefully into the seasonal words we’ve loved for so long, words all the more evocative for the brevity they conveyed.  Honeysuckle.  Jasmine.  Watermelon.  Seaside. 
They are the words reserved for summer, and we anticipate the delight they bring us each year.

This summer, however, other hands were rummaging in the mountains of letters, seizing them in angry fistfuls, creating dark words that threatened to blot out the ones that we love.   Hateful words such as Ebola and ISIS.  Ferguson.  War. These rang in our ears with a leaden tone, bringing sorrow and fear with each reverberation.

In the past several weeks, I have stood at the edge of my country with my toes in the sand, looking far out to the Atlantic from the shores of both our northernmost east coast state and our southernmost.  On a white-washed afternoon in Maine, I stood on a shoreline dotted with lilac-coloured oyster shells and azure sea glass staring out past the ivory sails of tall schooners to the horizon beyond, knowing that, if only my eyes were magically stronger, I could watch as these same waters lapped up on the coastlines of France.  The same feeling came to me on the evening I walked along an empty Florida island beach as a setting sun turned the sky into a prismatic spectacle that was an utter privilege to behold.  As a salty wind whipped round me, I stopped to consider the darkening line betwixt sea and sky and wondered about the African eyes possibly staring back at me from across those very same seas.

It is clearer that ever to me that the world, once thought of as so vast and unknowable, is now so small and vitally interconnected.  Living in the city to which the two American Ebola victims were brought, and successfully treated, only served to illustrate how intertwined we all are.  Years ago, news of the horrors occurring in countries oceans away came to us weeks after the fact, if at all.  These days we know of them as they are happening.  The modern globe is a tiny one; we must accept.

September First has always seemed much more like New Year’s Day to me than the January one that bears the title.  So today I am waving goodbye to this summer that was with the  hope that, as I gather up fresh new letters to fashion the words for the season I love most - words such as Mittens and Firesides, Jack-o-Lanterns and Snow - I will find letters enough to spell out words for a new year's fresh start; words more eternal, more redemptive; words that remain unquestionable and true.
Justice and Peace. 
  And Love.

Take a deep breath.
A new season beckons us all.

 Islesboro, Maine

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I Must.... I Simply Must..

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking, 

I must go down to the seas again for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying, 
And the flung spray and the brown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life, 
To the gulls’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover, 
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
by John Masefield

As you can see from the photo above, 
I am off this week, feeding my soul.
I shall return with merry yarns, soon.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The White Feather

The White Feather

If the afternoon had not been so hot, with a sun so relentless, then perhaps I would not have chosen the hat with the widest brim.   I might even have gone hatless, preferring instead to let the wind blow my hair as I took in the expansive green vistas of an early August day.  Maybe I would have been looking up. 
Up through the trees to the blue sky beyond.
 Up where the mockingbirds chase the red-shouldered hawks away from their nests.
 Up where the  clouds draw grand pictures at the gates of  heaven.   
I would have been studying those pictures perhaps, trying to decide what they were -
 A castle? A dragon?  
Spinning wheel?  
But I wore the wide-brimmed hat to hide from the sun and my view winnowed down to the earth at my feet.  
Focused, sharpened, my eyes wrapped around the smaller things:
 the acorns, the pebbles - blue violets, green moss.  
And then, there it was,
 pinned to the ground by a shaft of sunlight falling hard through the trees,
 white as bone, light as the air. 
A feather.
I bent to pick it up.
Stronger than it looked at first sight, each tiny white strand clasped together along the quill, like hands.
 So sadly grounded, still ready for flight.  
Too small for a wren, a robin, or thrush.
Had it dropped from the wing of a gull, or an owl?
Or perhaps from my guardian angel, in an effort to prove that she’s there.

Now it sits in a vase on my desk.
I run my fingers down the ruffled edge at least once a day.
Not to remind myself of flight that has ended, 
but flight that has yet to be.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Votes For Edward

Garden and Gun magazine is having a dog photo contest, 
and Edward has entered!
Help him show the world that a rescue dog can be a winner!
Vote for him HERE and tell your friends!
(PS.... you can vote once every 24 hours!)

Edward thanks you so much!

Heads up.... the contest has now ended.
Edward thanks you all heartily for your votes!
Fingers crossed!!

The wonderful author of Forever Chic, Tish Jett,
has written a delightful piece on dogs and
has generously featured Edward,
who now feels like he's already won.
Visit her HERE.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bits of Summer Afternoons

Bits of Summer Afternoons

When it comes to my writing, discipline is a garment I’ve rarely worn, preferring instead to rely on the less weightier components of creativity:  inspiration and caprice.    But I’ve been trying discipline on this summer and have found it to be, to my surprise, much less scratchy and uncomfortable than I’d originally thought.  My muse, forever flighty and untamed, has proven jealous of my new flirtation with discipline and has chosen to land on my shoulders whenever I give myself over to this sturdy friend, which has been both productive and delightful.  So I’ve spent a lot of this summer inside my own head which, as they share my reluctance to enthusiastically embrace the weather in July, has been just fine with Edward and Apple.  They have been happy to doze at my feet for hour on end, taking breaks occasionally to cut figure eights through the garden lest the chipmunks and squirrels take advantage in their absence. 

One cannot ignore a summer afternoon every day, however.  So we have ventured out on occasion and have found magical sights in every corner.  I thought I’d share a few of these with you.  So here’s a bit of our summer afternoons so far. 
We hope you are enjoying your days as much as we are.

Taking a Break to Sit in the Clover...

Surprise in a Garden....

A Blessedly Cool Day at the Beach...
A Huge Topiary Apple.....

and the Real Girl at the Seaside.

A New Addition to the Sidewalk Garden...

Giuseppe Arcimboldo Jumps Off the Canvas and Lands in a Garden...

The Fluffy Furry Summer Fellow...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Time Thieves

Time Thieves

Those of us fortunate to be children in the sixties saw a lot of changes happen on our watch.  I still remember the first day girls were allowed to wear trousers to school.  I, of course, remained clad in a dress but eagerly watched out of the school bus window as we pulled up that inaugural morning to see which of us was to be the first one to boldly step across the sartorial threshold.  There stood Kathryn, the only girl in a pair of trousers, looking both proudly rebellious and extraordinary comfortable as she maintained her status as class iconoclast with enormous dignity and flair.  Times had changed.  

We saw a  man walk on the moon.  Well, I fell asleep on the sofa before those first historic steps, but “collectively” we saw a man walk on the moon.  We’ve watched as computers took over the world, ever shrinking in physical size even as their domination of the culture grew.  There are no record stores anymore.  No more waiting for our holiday photos to be developed.  No more running from store to store: we can order everything, from underwear to Bartlett Pears, online.  

All this technology makes our lives easier, right?  A to do list can be knocked out in short order, right?  So what do I do with this amazing gift of additional hours afforded me by electronic progress?  I waste time on the internet.  Great grey masses of minutes - enormous, air-filled hours.  I fall down the rabbit hole at Pinterest and get hopelessly lost in a world of dreamy pictures, knitting patterns, and recipes.  Or I wander over to Twitter and find articles I’ve missed, following the links to read them all.  There are the new photos of Prince George to see and new videos to watch.  (I’m still in love with this one.) I check the weather in Lerwick; discover a funny picture of Prince Charles. 
And then, Lord help me, I find the quizzes.

Now I’m not thrilled to admit this, but I’m a total sucker for quizzes and questionnaires.  The Proust one is my favourite part of every Vanity Fair magazine.  I answer each question and compare my answers with everyone from Maureen O’Hara to Tom Jones.   I mean, how great is it that Catherine Denueve answered the question, “What do you dislike most about your appearance” by saying, “My left ear”?

Unfortunately for me, there is an alarming number of these little time thieves scuttling across my screen these days.   Purely for fun and hardly scientific, they are hard to resist all the same.  I blame Downton Abbey.  “Which Downton Abbey character are you?”  That was the first one I saw and of course, I  just had to participate.  Actually, there were several of these little tests on Downton Abbey and I took every one, finding out at the close of each that I was, indeed, the Dowager Countess.  No lovely Lady Mary, no stalwart Mrs. Hughes.  No, I was the Countess, always the Countess. 
I spoke to  several friends who all said, “Oh, yeah.  I can see that”.

This was so revealing that I began to take more and more of these little personality tests. So far I’ve learned that my spirit animal is an Owl and the colour of my aura is blue.  I will, apparently, be reincarnated as a dove and my mental age is twenty-five.  (Really??)
Which Shakespearean character am I?  Ariel. 
Which Wizard of Oz character am I?  Glinda.
And though, with her long legs and impeccable style, I was hoping to get the Duchess of Cambridge when I took the “Which Member of the Royal Family Are You” quiz, I was instead informed that I am, in fact,  The Queen. 
 I am now seriously afraid a pattern is emerging.

At this moment, I should be making coconut cupcakes for book club.  I should be scheduling a couple of train trips and finishing Chapter Eight.  There are linen shirts that need ironing and a shawl I am determined to finish knitting before a big journey in the fall.  Some birthday presents to wrap.  Dinner to plan.  And finishing Chapter Eight!  
But wait! 
 I need to find out which Dr. Seuss character I am before I do anything else!  

See?  It is a funny picture!

(and oh, by the way,  I am The Cat in the Hat!)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Like a Room Without a Roof

Like a Room Without a Roof

When one reaches adulthood, it is difficult, if not impossible, to replicate the excitement, the sheer giddiness, once engendered by the last day of school.   On that day, summer glittered before us, an uncharted land of unimagined delights just waiting to be explored and the fact that we were being  released to do precisely that, from sunup to sundown, was known to flood us with the feeling best described as pure happiness.  With our responsibilities winnowed down to the most rudimentary - making our beds, brushing our teeth - we were set loose upon a sunny world; a world devoid of schedules; a world  in which our only concern was making sure we had the adequate amount of coinage when the lilting song of the ice cream truck drifted enticingly down our street.  We played outside.  We ate cold watermelon and fresh corn.  We slept soundly.  Summer made us happy.

Happiness is a word difficult to define. I have always found it interesting that the learned men who penned our constitution declared the pursuit of happiness to be our unalienable right but didn’t, funnily enough, give any hint as to whether or not they expected us to attain that which we could so rightfully pursue.   If the standard for happiness is the feeling we felt on that long ago last day of school, then no doubt as adults we all fall a bit short.  

But on an afternoon last week, when the temperature soared and the air hung heavy as glue, I was in my car with a list of errands on the seat beside me.  The news of the day had been bleak enough for me to turn off the radio and plug in the iPod.  And that’s when I heard the new hit song, “Happy”.  These days it’s rare that I am a fan of any song popular enough to reach the number one slot on the charts.  I still miss The Beatles.  But I had downloaded this one because I was curious and now here it was, taking its place in the rotation, ready to win me over.  Without even being cognizant of the spell it cast, I soon found myself  tapping my foot and nodding my head with a big goofy grin on my face. 

One cannot expect to be “happy” as a usual state, can one?  Happiness, elusive and momentary, is a goal perhaps best replaced by contentment.  We can reside in contentment and even, diving deeper, find joy, a state unaffected by circumstance or time.  Still,  mercurial, even whimsical, happiness can surprise us when we least expect it and we ignore it at our peril.  I myself sit ready to welcome it heartily whenever it chooses to visit me, in whatever form it chooses to take.   So on this hot afternoon, I rolled down the window of my little green Fiat and let the wind tangle my hair as I sang along, happy as a lark.

I often think summers are so different now from the carefree ones of my childhood.  But really, that’s not exactly true.  If I’m honest, happiness (described so delightfully in that new hit song as “feeling like a room without a roof”) visits me frequently.  I often dance alone in the kitchen, Edward and Apple bouncing at my ankles in a similar mood.  Though I have infinitely more responsibilities than I did as a child, summer is still a wonderful time.  I still manage to play outside.  I still enjoy cold watermelon and fresh corn.  I still sleep soundly.  And Summer still makes me, more often than not, downright happy. 
How about you?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!

I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities
We, too, will be remembered
Not for our victories or defeats in battle or in politics
But for our contribution to the human spirit.

John F. Kennedy

Saturday, June 28, 2014

On An Ordinary Night

On An Ordinary Night

It was an ordinary night, even the most imaginative of souls could have only described it as such.  There were no extremes of weather; no clattering of rain on the roof; no wild wind to disturb the nests of baby robins asleep in the holly bushes beneath the darkened windows.  The crescent moon, thin as an eyelash, could only muster a watery light that struggled, and failed, to pierce the heavy air.   It was quiet, save for the hooting of the owl in the bottom of the garden, who is such a regular visitor that his calls are hardly to be taken for omens of any portent.  The minutes ticked by in quotidian fashion, as if even  time itself expected nothing unusual to occur on this, a most ordinary of ordinary nights.

The Songwriter was out of town and, as usual, Edward had been more than happy to take his place next to me in bed.  I had drifted off to the sound of the big dog’s steady breathing and was now tucked deep inside a dreamless sleep.  Way past midnight, yet long before dawn, I sensed someone trying to wake me up.  Though inaudible, someone was calling my name as loud as a bell.   Opening my eyes, I found myself nose to nose with Edward.  His big head nudged my side.  Then he pawed at my shoulder.  Then he turned round and round and flopped down on the bed with his head on my tummy.  Then, jumping up, he began to paw at me again, insistent, persistent,  and obviously worried.  

Sitting up in bed, I tried to ascertain what was wrong but nothing I could say or do seemed to calm him.  Then, suddenly, what only can be described as a strong gust of wind blew past me - a warm wind, forceful enough to ruffle my hair. The very second after this happened Edward turned, lay down at the foot of the bed, sighed a contented sigh and went right back to sleep, leaving me sitting up with my mind, quite naturally, awhirl.  There was no window open; nothing that could have logically caused a gust of warm wind.  What had just happened?

Relating this story to several people has been entertaining as I’ve watched their eyes grow wider and wider and heard wildly varying possibilities as to the nature of my experience.    Suffice it to say, all who have heard my account have expressed more that a bit of fright.  But I can honestly say that I felt no fear, indeed I went right back to sleep along with Edward.  

But I do admit to wondering what it could have been,
 and Edward’s not talking.
So, any ideas?

Painting above by Konstantin Kalynovych

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


The Songwriter often complains that I walk too fast.  I suppose he’s right, I do tend to bob and weave through crowds like a racehorse on a Derby track -  but only through crowds.  I think I’m always subconsciously attempting to escape them, so I go faster and faster until I’m nothing more than a pale blur.   Otherwise, I’m decidedly a stroller.   But my stride was lengthening on a morning last week as I made my way through the overstuffed cosmetic department of Bloomingdales on a birthday present expedition.  I had just spotted daylight and was heading for the door when my speed was slowed  by a lady offering a sadly unwanted perfume sample of Acqua di Parma.   Reed thin and bejeweled, she was a woman of an indeterminate age with lips an impossible red and a French accent as thick as bouillabaisse.   I smiled as I passed, gently refusing her gift of a heady spritz and that’s when I heard it:  “Oh, my dear!" she exclaimed.  "You are zo cute!”

Cute?  Cute!  I almost stopped cold, grabbed her by her St. John lapels and demanded she elaborate.  Cute?  One might be grateful for a compliment of “cute” when one is a toddler. One might even welcome it as far up as sixteen. But to be called “cute” at this stage of the game was downright unsettling.  I indulged in a sideways glance at the mirrored wall alongside me.  Black and white espadrilles, wide-legged white linen trousers, long black linen shirt, one lone strand of pearls, big white vintage earrings, hair up.  I had been going for “unstudied elegance” and all I got was “cute”.  In a French accent, no less.

“Cute”, in my definition, is a word dangerously akin to “twee”, an adjective that calls to mind lace doilies, grosgrain ribbon, and kittens.  But apparently, “twee” has become a thing now. Who knew?  There is an entire movement of “twee” happening at the moment; a possible reaction against the “hipsters”, those aficionados of white belts, mismatched plaids and the razor-thin moustache.   It’s rather disconcerting to read a list of things considered to be  twee as quite a few of them veer too closely to my own tastes.

Let’s see now, according to the Chicago Tribune, cats are twee.  (Edward gallantly guarantees I’m safe there.)  So are cupcakes, mittens and scarves.  (As a knitter, those last two are worrisome.  Come to think of it, knitting is probably as twee as it gets.  This is not looking good.)  The state of Connecticut is twee. (What?  The entire state?)  Also, Wes Anderson movies, indie rock, and Paul Simon.  (Uh oh... I adored Wes Anderson’s, Moonrise Kingdom, which is supposedly the twee-est movie out there.)   Otters are twee, bless them.  (Photo above.)  Happily though, after mentally perusing my other favourites, I came up with a highly un-twee list.  Virginia and Vita, Leonard Cohen, Glencoe?   Certainly not twee.  Saint-Saens, Seamus Heaney, Great-Horned Owls?  Hardly.  By the time I got to Alexander MacQueen and Isabella Blow I was feeling much better. So thankfully, it seems in totality my tastes are not quite twee enough to demand my automatic inclusion in that camp.  

Having always shunned categories of any kind, I am naturally reluctant to label myself as either twee or un-twee.  I have to admit, the French perfume lady did cause a momentary wrinkle in an otherwise smooth morning despite the fact that I quickly decided her use of the word “cute” was undoubtedly due to the unfortunate paucity of her American vocabulary. Nevertheless, in response, I did what any normal woman would do.  I bought I pair of shoes.  Black with gold flowers.  Very Elizabethan.  Very elegant.  In no way twee.  In absolutely no way “cute”.   

I wonder.... how would you react to being called “cute”?
Would you happily embrace “twee”?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Friend Indeed

A Friend Indeed

Jury duty is just that, a duty.  If you happen to open your mailbox to find an official looking letter summoning you to a week of jury duty, be aware:  this is not an invitation to be weighed; it is a requirement.  Therefore, when I received such a summons for jury duty back in March, my mood clouded over as I saw my service was set to begin on the one day out of three hundred and sixty five that happened to be the very day I was born.    To spend my birthday on jury duty seemed cruel and unnecessary at best, particularly since I was already booked into my favourite inn at the beach for that week.  So I wrote a  very nice letter, and lo and behold the very nice people at the very nice courthouse postponed my service until June, which was how I found myself up much earlier than usual on a morning last week, stifling a yawn as I waited in the security line for my handbag to be searched.

Having heard there was a lot of waiting around when one serves as a juror, I’d brought along a fat and wordy book as well as the crossword puzzles from the morning papers and a freshly sharpened pencil.  Turns out I didn’t get very far in either diversion, for I was called to a courtroom within the hour of my arrival.  This just might be interesting, I thought, as I followed my fellow potential jurors into the courtroom.   A great opportunity for observation and character study.  My heart fell to my espadrilles, however, when I heard the judge announce that she was beginning jury selection for a criminal trial involving charges that made me shudder just to hear them read.  Forty-two potential jurors had to be interviewed which, much to my amazement, required them to speak at intrusive length about horrors in their own lives.  I had no idea this happened in jury selection and felt the weight of sadness growing heavier as I listened to seemingly ordinary people recount parts of their past that were painful to hear and no doubt excruciating to relate.  Hours passed.  We were finally released at six o’clock and I drove home feeling quite low.
There were dark clouds moving in from the west as I pulled into the drive, indicating the approach of a summer storm.   The house was still.  Obviously the dogs were out in the studio with The Songwriter.  But just then I heard a familiar thump on the back door and it swung open wide as Edward bounded in.  Being of excellent hearing, and having recently mastered the art of opening the screened porch door of the studio to let himself out when needed (something Apple has yet to work out), he came running when he heard my car.  

Too dispirited to manage an effusive greeting, I merely patted him on the head and fell across the bed in a heap.  Thunder rolled in the distance as the first fistfuls of rain began to hit the roof.  The curtains over the window seat blew in and out as the wind whipped up and the room grew dim.  Edward sat watching me; I could feel his brown-eyed stare on the back of my neck.  After a long minute he jumped lightly up on top of the bed.  Snuggling up as close as he could get, he placed his big head on my shoulders and sighed a heavy sigh.  

For those unfortunate enough to have never known the comfort a dog can bring, I can only say it is unsurpassed on the earth.  Words are superfluous; explanations, irrelevant.  I lay there for a good while - listening to the rain pound the garden as the wind blew sweet scents of wet honeysuckle into my room, all the while with Edward never moving from my side, his breathing slow and steady.  One of my favourite quotes is by C. S. Lewis who said, “Man with dog closes a gap in the universe”.  I felt that gap gently close that afternoon as  once again, I felt a measureless gratitude for my good furry friend.  I can only hope I make his life a fraction as sweet as he makes mine.  

Next morning, I was not selected to serve on that jury.  It was probably because the detective is a neighbour of mine, but I didn’t stop to ask questions as I scurried out the door, feeling somewhat guilty over the relief rushing through my veins. I drove home quickly and took Edward for a long, long walk in the sunshine.  I needed it, and goodness knows, he deserved it.  

If you don’t have a dog of your own, go get one! 
 Or as Edward and Apple would suggest, go rescue one!
You will never regret it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Reading 2014

Summer Reading 2014
When I was a child growing up in the South I spent a lot of time in the summer trying to get cool.  Southern summers are hot but like most people on our street my parents considered air-conditioning to be an affectation for the less than hardy Southerner, so our rooms were cooled at night by the stalwart efforts of an oscillating fan placed strategically in the hallway between my bedroom and theirs. This method, while completely fair, was often sadly ineffectual.  How well I remember lying in my bed in the humid heat, listening to the crickets in the woods outside my window as I waited for that fan to finally swivel my way.  

But every summer, as soon as school holidays began, we would visit a building unlike any other I knew; blessedly cool, quiet, and entirely magical.  The main branch of our public library was a colossal grey stone edifice that presided, cathedral-holy, over the busiest street downtown.  Approaching it on a hot June day when steam rose up like an unnatural fog from the blistering streets and everyone wore the damp, listless expressions of the truly miserable as they plowed their way through the heavy air was akin to nearing an oasis in the middle of a inhabitable land; a land that vanished as though it had never existed as soon as I pushed open that library door.  It was not only a place where, amazingly,  you were allowed to take as many books as you wanted home with you but full as it was of fat, comfortable chairs, it was a cool and utterly delightful place to read the afternoon away.  

In summer, where one reads has always been sweetly tied to what one reads.  Hence the description, Beach Book, I suppose.  More than any other season, summer holds out handfuls of tempting places to read: windswept beaches, coastal cottages, fragrant gardens.  In this, my annual Summer Reading list, I decided to pair books with places as beautiful as they are inviting.  Each looks like the most wonderful place to read on a summer's day.  And thanks to the National Trust of Britain, they all can be rented!   Just click on the photograph and you’ll be whisked away for all the details.  Same goes with the books, just click the picture of each to find out more.  Also, a marvelous children’s book closes out each separate list.  

The months of summer are brief, I know that now.  When I was a child, of course, they stretched out before me like an unbroken ribbon of carnival candy creating enough delicious memories to last a lifetime.   I’m glad those memories include books and I hope you’ll make some wonderful new literary memories of your own this summer.  As I was writing this post it occurred to me that it was six years ago this month that I began writing here at From the House of Edward.  I can’t think of a lovelier way to celebrate than with a passel of tempting new books, can you?  Remember now, do leave comments to tell me what you’re planning to read this summer.
  Love to you all,
 Pamela, and Edward too, of course.

Doyden Castle, Cornwall

The Sea House
by Elizabeth Gifford

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin
by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

The Night Gardener
by Jonathan Auxier
Helston Lodge, Cornwall

My Brilliant Friend
by Elena Ferrante

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club
by Genevieve Valentine

What Are People For 
by Wendell Berry

Three Bears in a Boat
by David Soman

Tan y Bwlch, Wales

This House is Haunted
by John Boyne

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

The Silkworm
by Robert Galbraith

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes
by Jonathan Auxier
Tintinhull House, Somerset

The Romanov Sisters
by Helen Rappaport

by Vita Sackville-West and Sarah Raven

One Man’s Folly:  The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood
by Julia Reed

The Minpins
by Roald Dahl