We planted daffodil bulbs years ago, but I think these are the first blooms. Ordinarily, I don’t care for this variety, but today they seem simply splendid.
By the time we finished our chores, errands, and late lunch on Saturday, it was raining steadily, so we had the two-mile loop at the state park to ourselves — unheard of on the weekend. We saw cormorants, a teal, an American coot, a great blue heron, and several sandhill cranes.
It’s been two weeks since it last rained. In that time, our weather has swung from snow to sun, from overnight frost to temperatures in the high seventies. Most folks we’ve encountered on our daily walks over the last week have remarked on the beautiful weather. My husband and I love autumn and winter proper — cold nights, short days, and all — but we nodded and waved: Yes, lovely. Weather talk is, after all, simply an acknowledgment that we’ve seen one another, a verbal wave.
Although… when we homeschooled, our family kept logs of the weather and temps, listened to Tom Skilling’s extended radio segment, and regularly reviewed ten-day forecasts. My daughters even took a meteorology course at the local college. Weather colored our days and interested us enough to learn about it, to weave it into our narrative. Even now, we regularly compare predictions and daily high and low temperatures. Weather talk is, of course, a way to bridge the distance, a verbal hug.
As I mentioned, we strive to get about five miles in each day. Our neighborhood is highly walkable, but it’s always a joy to get on the trails in a park, conservation district, or state natural area.
Ordinarily, we get our five miles in by walking the neighborhood and supplementing with the bike and exercise videos, so it’s always a delight to get out and forest bathe. This image is from a walk in Wisconsin last Friday.
My miraculous orchid now has seven flowers. (Original entry here.)
■ The Amateurs (Liz Harmer; 2019. Fiction.)
■ Postal: Deliverance, Vol. 2 (Brian Edward Hill; 2020. Graphic fiction.)
■ Ascender, Vol. 2: The Dead Sea (Jeff Lemire; 2020. Graphic fiction.)
Hoopla has enabled me to keep up on series that interest me.
■ The Tao of Pooh (Benjamin Hoff; 1982. Non-fiction.)
This is a somewhat different book now than it was when I first read it. The story of the author’s difficulties with the publisher are chronicled on his website.
■ The Pearl (John Steinbeck; 1947. Fiction.)
It seems impossible that I have not read this before, but I could not remember anything more than the horrific conclusion.
For it is said that humans are never satisfied, that you give them one thing and they want something more. This is said in disparagement, whereas it is one of the greatest talents the species has and one that has made it superior to animals that are satisfied with what they have.
■ Death in Venice (Thomas Mann; 1912. Trans. Michael Henry Heim; 2004. Fiction.)
Again, how is it possible that I have not read this? The Heim translation is introduced by Michael Cunningham, who writes, in part, “All the writers I respect want to write a book so penetrating and thorough, so compassionate and unrelenting, that it can stand unembarrassed beside the spectacle of life itself. And all writers I respect seem to know (though no one likes to talk about it) that our efforts are doomed from the outset. Life is bigger than literature. We do the best we can. Some of us do better than others.”
How about this for serendipity / synthesis / synchronicity?
The cases were kept secret. Within a week, however, there were ten of them, then twenty, thirty, and in different districts to boot. […] The Venetian authorities issued a statement to the effect that health conditions have never been better then took the most essential precautions against the disease. […] But fear of the overall damage that would be done — concern over the recently opened art exhibition in the Public Gardens and the tremendous losses with which the hotels, the shops, the entire, multifaceted tourist trade would be threatened in case of panic and loss of confidence — proved stronger in the city than the love of truth and respect for international covenants: it made the authorities stick stubbornly to their policy of secrecy and denial.
Interesting aside: The word legerdemain is used in the description of one of the pearl dealers in Steinbeck’s short novel. It’s not a common word, so it struck me when I encountered it again in the Heim translation of Mann’s work.
A third bloom! How lucky am I?
In other news…
In about two hours, I will attend my fourth Theater of War production. Warm thanks to the reader who brought this fabulous group to my attention. Today they’re doing The Book of Job Project, using the Stephen Mitchell translation. Maybe I’ll “see” you there?
Also, I finished two more books in June and wanted to add them to the count, which, at the year’s midpoint, stands at 124, with 102 read from the shelves.
■ Circe (Madeline Miller; 2018. Fiction.)
Read with my older daughter as part of our informal summer reading program. Both of us described it as a page-turner and finished it in one day. Related links here and here.
■ The Godmother (Hannelore Cayre; 2019. Fiction.)
Light and quick with a few witty observations. Perhaps it will work better as a movie?
People say I’m bad tempered, but I think this is hasty. It’s true I’m easily annoyed, because I find people slow and often uninteresting. For example, when they’re banging on about something I couldn’t give a crap about, my face involuntarily takes on an impatient expression which I find hard to hide, and that upsets them. So, they think I’m unfriendly. It’s the reason I don’t really have any friends, just acquaintances.