Saturday, 31 December 2016

To The New Year: WS Merwin

With what stillness at last

you appear in the valley

your first sunlight reaching down

to touch the tips of a few

high leaves that do not stir

as though they had not noticed

and did not know you at all

then the voice of a dove calls

from far away in itself

to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you

here and now whether or not

anyone hears it this is

where we have come with our age

our knowledge such as it is

and our hopes such as they are

invisible before us

untouched and still possible

W. S. Merwin

Winter Sun at Lazonby, by Stuart St John (licensed by Creative Commons)

Happy New Year everyone -  hope yours is as peaceful and hopeful as this.  I will be high in the sky courtesy of Singapore Airlines, bound for Cambodia.  Once there I will not have wifi most of the time so may only be in touch intermittently.  Good wishes to everyone for 2017.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Gone Fishing - Off to lie on a beach on an island in Cambodia

You probably won't hear from me much in the next couple of weeks because I'm packing to go off to Cambodia.  Not to the tourist north, or Angkor Wat, but to spend time with family on a remote island near the Vietnamese border.  The island is called Koh Seh and it's the home of Marine Conservation Cambodia which facilitates research and is attempting to preserve coral reefs, sea grass beds and fisheries for the Cambodian people.  Koh Seh is to the south on the map below, off the coast of Vietnam.

Our nearest bit of civilisation will be Kep (half an hour from the Vietnamese border), which is a lovely rural hideaway.   We won't have much in the way of wifi, so I won't be on the internet very much and looking forward to a complete holiday.

the sea front at Kep

Most of the time we'll be living in a wooden hut on the island with no mod cons (shower from a rainwater barrel, long drop loos etc) - a break from wasteful western culture and our addiction to consumerism!  Something like this .......

I will post some photos when I can get enough wifi signal.  If you never hear from me again it's because I've decided not to come back!!!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

A poetic Christmas card

This isn't one of mine - I found it on 'The Poke'  and loved the humour of it! I just wanted to wish a very happy year-end festival to all my friends and followers wherever you are and whatever you believe.  I'm an aetheist, but was brought up in a Christian culture and I love the seasonal festivals with all their undertones of an older religion rooted in nature and mythology.  I celebrate the things that we share with all other world religions - the idea of hope, symbolised by the returning light after winter darkness, the birth of a child, the importance of kindness to all living things, and the delight in rituals and ceremonies that bring us together with others.  May 2017 be filled with light, friendship and kindness.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Sunday Book: My Name is Lucy Barton - Elizabeth Strout

I've just read my first Elizabeth Strout - a slim, elegant volume called 'My Name is Lucy Barton'.  and now I'm wondering why it took me so long to discover her.  Friends have been raving about her for a long time.  But I'm resistant to hype and this year I haven't been much in the mood for reading.  I'm just beginning to find my way back into books and I think Lucy Barton was a good start.

The novel is short, weighing in at 191 well-spaced pages, and the narrative is mesmerising.  A young woman is in hospital, forced to spend time thinking back over her life, and then - unexpectedly - her mother arrives to look after her.   Little by little, as the narrator goes backwards and forwards, there are quiet revelations and epiphanies.

Lucy Barton's relationships are revealed with the honesty of an autopsy, yet you are always aware of the narrator as a person who doesn't always want to confront the truth.  Sometimes you as reader can see what was going on while the narrator is still in denial.

I loved it - I loved both its complexity and its deceptive simplicity.  This is the kind of writing that is so good it leaves you breathless - reminding me a little of Raymond Carver's minimalism, but with more emotional depth.  I will be reading Elizabeth Strout again.  Olive Kitteridge next.