October 19th, 2012



Most years, autumn here in southern Sweden is an afterthought. A quick flash through gold to brown and ashes! ashes! all fall down! Autumn is usually rainy, sodden, darkening and the leaves don't stand a chance: they fall with the rain to lie in decaying circles beneath suddenly bare branches.

This year, O! we've been blessed by cold, clear days and a long stretch of solid blue sky and flame-tipped, flame-topped foliage. The birches are golden, the maples are red, and everything else is in between: orange, pumpkin, crimson, amber, saffron, carrot, coral, terracotta, rust, umber, copper, bronze.

Most of the trees are still green underneath, so it looks as if they are all slowly burning down, candled in autumn colors. Most of the fields are full of green; the sugar beets are still being harvested, though the factory across the highway has been smoking and lit already for some time. Nature loves a rainbow, obviously: blue sky, yellow, orange, red leaves, green grasses!

I've been walking most days since I started 2 weeks ago, at least 20 minutes per day, and usually more. Mostly it's been on the treadmill, but I've tried to get out and walk in the autumn air as well, if I get home early enough and on the weekends. Martin and I toured around the village yesterday but today he was sick and I felt the need to be a slug when I finally got home. Despite not having any scheduled obligations in the evenings this past week, it's been a really busy one and I'm still trailing the bedraggled edge of a head cold. I am not 100% sure I've managed to avoid pneumonia this time, but I'm optimistic.

I started back up approximately where I left off with the damn Lego project which will apparently take me the rest of my life, mostly because I didn't document very well what I had done before I went to Boston at the end of August and my steel-trap memory has rusted half-open. Still, if I keep at it, there is a (faint) light at the end of the tunnel. There are a lot of bags with missing pieces, which is a little disheartening. I don't think people want to buy Lego kits with missing pieces, though hopefully I'll be proved wrong.

Last night, I started reading the book for Book group, which is this coming Thursday, and I don't want to keep going. I'm only a few chapters in and I don't like the characters or the premise. One of my friends told me today that she read it years ago and hated it and when I said I was headed that way, too, I suddenly thought: do I really have to keep reading it? Do I have to finish it for the sake of the discussion? Life's too short to read bad books or ones I don't really like, right? The thing is, I DO like some of the writing, though it's rather uneven. You want to know what book it is now, don't you? It's Rabbit, Run by John Updike. Quite honestly, at this point, I can't believe he wrote FOUR books about this guy AND that they are his most popular books. Hrm.

I thought for sure I'd read some of his other books in my distant collegiate past, but when I looked at his bibliography, the only one I thought might be a possibility was Gertrude and Claudius and I once loved the movie The Witches of Eastwick even though it goes completely over the top by the end. I never actually read the book it's based on, however.

It's not like when we read Steinbeck for book group a few years back (another classic American author that I managed to escape reading during my academic years despite being an English major) and I fell in love with The Grapes of Wrath and serial-read everything else he ever wrote in the months following. But maybe I should plow on through it so I can at least be able to say I've read Updike. Maybe it's just because this is one of his first books; he obviously must have improved in order to have won the Pulitzer more than once, and both times for books about this same character who is leaving me completely cold at the moment.

I have such a huge stack of books to read, I hate to waste time on one I don't care for, even for the sake of book group, which I love. What to do, what to do...