Sunday, November 08, 2015


So what am I reading these days while the wind blows the falling leaves, and the hazel nut tree out my window drops her skirts in a lovely crisp golden pile, and I wait for a sunny day to add them to the compost for next springs wonderfully rich rewards?

Well, at the moment I am immersed in Jeffrey Archer's latest Clifton series book - "Mightier than the Sword".  Not an all at one sitting book, but one that keeps you coming back for another chapter, - or maybe two. I expect it is going to end in a cliff-hanger, as the last one did, and I will close it with a sigh of expectation, hoping that Mr. Archer is busy writing his next tale about the Cliftons and Barringtons.  The trouble with series, when getting ancient one never knows if one will be around when the next book comes out if the author is not right (write) on the bit and sharp about the next release date.  There is something to be said for the Serial, - monthly, or even weekly!!

I find this with the Gabaldon books, - that poor child was imprisoned for three years underground before Diana relieved the suspense in her last Outlander book.......

When I am feeling more pensive I read an essay from "Irish Willow", which arrived by post a couple of weeks ago.  It is very difficult to get Chris Arthur's books here in Canada, but it is worth the expense of having the writings sent from the UK.  A reviewer, David Robinson (Scotland on Sunday) describes them as 'thoughtful and perceptive'  - 'Seamus Heaney's poetry in prose' and Kimberly Myers compares him to Loren Eiseley (who has had a place on my shelves for ages and ages) and again, Seamus Heaney, two writers who illustrate the 'physical and metaphysical connections between the animal and human worlds'.

As the years go by  I am made more and more aware of the wildlife in the Chilcoton country where some of the family live, and the connection the animals there have with the humans who live in harmony with them, mean them no harm and encourage and enjoy their company on a daily basis.

The whiskey jacks who eat from their hands, the little white crowned sparrow who spent the winter indoors with our youngest son after getting left behind in the snow and cold when the general migration left, - the deer that follow behind, and the bear family that are so at home and picnic on dandelions and lawn grass.  The chipmunks and squirrels who gather for hand-outs.   To say nothing of the beavers for whom said son cuts down trees and leaves them in available spots to be dragged into the creek (and leave the favoured aspens standing).

It holds a great appeal for me, this connection, the friendship and trust that can be fostered with wildlife, and I think, oh really, what are we but a more advanced species.....

I have also been reading a newly issued book written by a great - granddaughter of Frank Xavier Richter, a prominent Similkameen Valley pioneer.who emigrated from what is now the Czech Republic.  Much of his story is familiar to me through articles in the Okanagan Historical Society annuals, and from stories and aquaintance with the many descendants who are scattered throughout the Similkameen, the Okanagan and further reaches of British Columbia.

When Frank first came to the Lower Similkameen (1862) he established a large ranch, an orchard and a relationship with Lucy Simla, a member of a north Okanagan Indian Band, and together they had five sons, all avid sportsmen and skilled with horses.  It was a happy and prosperous union.  However in the way of the west and as the population increased many men who had raised families with Indian women turned away to marriage with white women.  Frank Richter. after his family of boys were grown, left Lucy and married Elizabeth Loudon.  To his credit he took care of Lucy for the rest of her life and acknowledged the boys in every way as his sons, and they in their turn took good care of their mother and led worthy, adventurous and prosperous lives.  It is a great tale, and I keep turning pages back and forth and making notes, and remembering Charles' friendship with these men and their families.

And always on my table, next to my journal, John O'Donohue's 'Bless the Space Between Us'......

To learn from Animal Being

Nearer to the earth's heart,
Deeper within its silence
Animals know this world
In a way we never will.

We who are ever
Distanced and distracted
By the parade of bright
Windows thought opens;
Their seamless presence
Is not fractured thus.

Stranded between time
Gone and time emerging
We manage seldom
To be where we are;
Whereas they are always
Looking out from
The here and now.

May we learn to return
And rest in the beauty
Of animal being,
Learn to lean low,
Leave our locked minds,
And with freed senses
Feel the earth
Breathing with us.

John O'Donohue


Barb said...

What a nice way to sum up your lovely post with the O'Donohue poem that encourages us to "rest in the beauty of animal being." I am always encouraged by the mindfulness of animals to be more mindful in my own right. To live side-by-side with wildlife or even with domesticated animals is a privilege. I am constantly reading, too, but your stack of books seems a bit more meaty than mine, Hildred.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I too always have a couple of books going ...but it would be Kindergarten reading compared to your advanced degree. How beautifully you express our connection with the animal world. I agree.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Nice thoughtful post Hildred and also thankyou for sharing your present reading. I have just read Bill Bryson's latest 'The Road to Little Dribbling' which I had as a birthday present from a friend. But in pensive mood I always revert to any one of my many Ronald Blythe books, which satisfy my needs in so many ways.

Morning's Minion said...

I am sometimes astonished when I realize how many years have passed since I read the first of the Diana Gabaldon books. I've not liked the last two as well as the earlier books--find myself grumbling that she is too 'far out' with some of the scenes, and then think, after all, I am avidly reading a series based on the tales of time travelers. Presumably there are no rules!
Inevitably when reading a series I've felt that some of the books are not of a consistent quality--the Maisie Dobbs mysteries come to mind.
I left a brief reply to your comment on my post re the return of Nellie-Cat, but wanted to comment a bit more and be certain you would see it.
As I pondered the tale of the little flock of sheep wintering somewhere in the hills, it struck me that Charles and your sons must have wondered for many years just where the sheep had hidden up, and how in all their searching they missed the clues. I tend to fuss endlessly over such events, wanting the 'rest of the story.'