Maybe it's the wintertime, the darkness, the sluggish response to everything. Maybe it's the way my eyes slide along the surface, too. I don't see things or I don't stop for them, the way I do in the spring and the summer. There was a glimpse of white on the river as I drove over the bridge, enough of a recognition to identify a swan but I didn't really SEE it. There was another glimpse of white in the pasture as I passed on the way to work, a peripheral flash of shape and expectation that gave me knowledge: a stork. But I didn't REALLY see it. It's not that there is less to see, it's simply that my eyes are turned inwards and away. It makes for boring posts.
Now is the time of preparations, and frenzied bustling and at the same time a deep sense of slowing as we come to the darkest day. A clementine momentarily arrests me: a bright dollop of glory and a sharp tingle on the tongue. Sunshine in the morning gives me joy but it's a muted feeling. I remember the light and turn; heat-seeking.
Everything I write sounds banal. Trite. I write a sentence, backspace. Write another, delete. Who cares that twice this year it's taken me two weeks to read a single book? Who cares that I finished writing, enclosing and addressing my Christmas cards? We watched Ice Age 3 tonight: whoopee.
I just finished reading the 3 Merlin books by Mary Stewart. Did you know she is still alive?? Did you know she is NINETY-THREE? I had no idea. I know we had these books in the house when I was growing up; I must have read them at some point, one would think, and yet if so, I remembered nothing. And they are so good! They don't feel at all as if they were written in the early 1970s—they're fresh and dynamic and a fascinatingly intricate take on a tale so well-known as to be cliche. Her children's book, The Little Broomstick, was a childhood favorite, a birthday gift from my maternal grandparents in the 70s. The inscription on the flyleaf, in my grandmother's hand, says To Elizabeth Slaughter from Grandma and Grandad Pangborn Aug 197- ...isn't that strange? So I don't know what year I actually got it.
I have a couple of shelves of hardcover books missing their dust jackets: all gifts to me from my parents and grandparents for birthdays and Christmases throughout my youth: A Wrinkle in Time, The Grey King, Lad: A Dog, Heidi, The Three Toymakers, just to name a few. The cloth of the covers is softened and the edges of the spines are whitened and worn: old and battered good friends.
Looking over the list of books that Stewart wrote makes me realize that I have a lot of catching up to do; with these three I've only read a total of four of her oeuvre. It's as if I've opened an unexpected treasure chest, seeing that long list of books that I haven't read by an author that has captivated. It's the same way I felt when I discovered Dorothy Dunnett: pure glee. A whole stack of beautiful books to get my hands on and devour.
What are you reading? Any old favorites to recommend? Preferably ones with a substantial body of work?
Cupcaked & Candled Belated Birthday Wishes to fiveandfour!