Saturday, July 24, 2021

One Book I Avoided Reading as a Girl

" I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!
How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! "

I never tire of books. They are a hobby, a pursuit, a lifeline. From my earliest childhood, words in books captivated my imagination in a way nothing else on this earth has ever done. Books are my heartbeat. It's a gift for which I'll never stop being grateful. So, to be honest, during the sweltering heatwave we had recently, and it felt unbearable at times without AC, I secretly grinned to myself. Expending as little energy as possible during those days, I tucked myself in a coolish corner and, without a shred of guilt or shame, I disappeared into my books and read for hours. Just like I did when I was a girl....reading on a sunny afternoon in the shade of our poplar trees or sprawled on my bed in the evening reading until sunset, squinting my eyes to etch out just a few more words before the twilight faded into dusk.

British novelist Doris Lessing once said people should not read a book out of its right timing for them. I agree. Out of season the words lay listless on a page, barely engaging us, but in season, they hang with promise, heavy like ripe fruit ready to nourish and delight. Sometimes we read a book and we aren't ready for it, but the experience can ruin it for future reading. One such book for me was Black Beauty. I don't know how old I was—maybe nine or ten—but I was totally gutted when I learned this beautiful horse had to be sold to uncaring, cruel men. I never read it again. 

THE YEARLING (children's fiction)
by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

So then, I could never bring myself to read another children's classic The Yearling, because it was about a boy and his pet deer, and I already knew it wouldn't have a good ending. And even though my younger sister loved it as a girl and highly recommended it, I still couldn't bring myself to read it. But, this summer at the, ahem, tender age of sixty-four, I felt ready for it. It has been a lovely summertime read with its storyline woven with high adventure, sadness and loss but also with many delightful threads of beauty and wonder and hope. Life in the Florida backwoods was ruthless, and Penny Baxter fought off wolves and bears, faced failure and sickness; yet there he was, instilling in his young son the ability to marvel at the beauty of the world around them.

"I do not understand how anyone can live without
one small place of enchantment to turn to."

I was especially taken with one enchanting description in the book. One evening while out tromping in the woods, Penny Baxter and young Jody watch as eight pairs of whooping cranes glide into a pond and begin their mysterious ritual dances. It was like watching a dance at a grand ball. I remember naturalist author Diane Ackerman writing about the plight of whooping cranes and how these elegant birds had been nearly destroyed and are now making a slow recovery. Yet, here was this description written decades earlier, possibly drawn from Rawlings's own encounter, when whooping cranes still plentifully wild were doing their courtship dances with barely anyone to see them. Penny Baxter and his son watched and were so overcome by it, they were speechless, even when they arrived home to supper. I sat in that moment after reading the passage, and I had no words.

Reading books when the timing is right is so important in getting the best from them, even when it means reading a children's classic when one is nearly a senior citizen. I borrowed the book from the library, but I think it's one I'd like to own and have near to hand, in case I want to read my favourite lines again. The illustrations in the hardcover edition are wonderful.

I'll close with this heartfelt talk Penny Baxter had with his young son as the boy faced the grievous loss of his beloved pet. It's one of my favourite passages:
"Ever' man wants life to be a fine thing, and a easy. 'Tis fine, boy, powerful fine, but 'tain't easy. Life knocks a man down and he gits up and it knocks him down agin. I've been uneasy all my life...I've wanted life to be easy for you. Easier'n 'twas for me. A man's heart aches, seein' his young uns face the world. Knowin' they got to get their guts tore out, the way his was tore. I wanted to spare you, long as I could. I wanted you to frolic with your yearlin'. I knowed the lonesomeness he eased for you. But ever' man's lonesome. What's he to do then? What's he to do when he gits knocked down? Why, take it for his share and go on."
* * *

Shall we take it for our share and go on?
Wishing you beauty and heart's ease.


Top: Image by Ina Hall from Pixabay 

Monday, July 12, 2021

Guest Post Elsewhere - Summertime Reading

" Sweet life continues in the breeze,
in the golden fields. "
JACK KEROUAC, Book of Sketches

On this beautiful Monday morning, I am delighted to be a Guest Blogger on InScribe where this month contributors explore the theme of summertime reading. You'll find my post A Summer Breeze and a Good Book HERE. I hope you'll stop by and say hello.

Wishing you a beautiful day.


Top: Image from Pixabay 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Sunday Afternoons

" Summer afternoon—summer afternoon;
to me those have always been the two most
beautiful words in the English language. "

What do you do on a Sunday afternoon in summer?

Sometimes we . . .

Go for a Sunday drive, windows down, in the countryside.
Stop for an ice cream cone on the way home.
Sit on the deck, smell the roses, watch the birds.

Visit with friends in the shade, sip something cool.
Read a book, mesmerized by its compelling tale.
Drift off, snooze like a cat.

Watch shadows dance on the ceiling and breezes flirt with the curtains. 
Laze on a day hazy with heat.
Slurp juicy watermelon or icy Creamsicles.

Sometimes we just sit—letting
hours slip by at a pleasant pace.
Grateful for summer afternoons and
the chance to 'just be'.

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful day.


Top photo: Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

Friday, July 02, 2021

Summer Favourites: Burgers and Mango Pepper Salad

" I always say, 'Eat clean to stay fit;
have a burger to stay sane.' "

Biting into a perfectly grilled burger makes my taste buds thankful every time. Hamburgers with all the fixings are certainly on my Top Five of summer eating favourites. I'm pretty sure I got hooked watching Wimpey all those years ago eat his way through piles of the perfectly shaped mounds - 'gladly paying Tuesday for a hamburger today'.

The standard for me includes mustard, relish, ketchup, a thin slice of sweet onion, beefsteak tomato, a lettuce leaf, all on a lightly toasted ciabatta bun. I know melted cheese and crisp bacon would take it over the top for some people. I love both but my scale says I'm okay without them. But, have you ever had a burger with a layer of crisp deep fried onion ring on it? This is only for once in a while but, oh my, that takes any burger I'm going to eat over the top-top. It's bite down delicious.

Being a curious soul, what do you like on your burgers? What is a must, what is disgust? Or, if hamburgers are not a favourite for you, what is on your summertime top five?

" Mindful eating is about awareness.
When you eat mindfully, you slow down,
pay attention to the food you're eating,
and savor every bite. "

This mango and bell pepper salad is one of my favourite summer salads. It's so refreshing on a hot day, and it seems to go well with just about anything grilled. You can do the chopping ahead of time and keep ingredients in the refrigerator. Add the dressing just before serving.

Mango and Sweet Bell Pepper Salad

1 ripe mango (or 2 nectarines), peeled, cut into small chunks
1 sweet red pepper, sliced into matchstick-size pieces
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley)

1/3 cup diced sweet onion
1 Tbsp lime juice (or lemon)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
dash hot pepper sauce

In a bowl, add mango, red pepper, and cilantro.
Mix onion, lime juice, vegetable oil, and hot pepper sauce.
Stir and pour over the ingredients in the bowl. Mix gently.

* * *

It's been a scorcher for us this past week. We've been mostly hibernating indoors, it being too hot to do anything outside, so what could we do but cheerfully beaver through our summertime reading stash. As they say, it's a hard job but somebody's got to do it. We only venture outside to check on plants in the pre-dawn and late into the evening to ensure they haven't croaked in the day's heat. Usually in our area we worry about frostbite for our plants, not heat stroke. Our beautiful Peace Rose is suffering especially - the buds venture open only to dry to a crisp in the winds. 😢 So grateful it's cooling down a little over the next few days. There might even be some rain. In the meantime, I'll be sure to keep my reading pile topped up.

Stay cool. Stay safe.
Here's wishing you a pleasant weekend.

Photos are mine