It's one of those places that I go where I never see anyone else I know, in fact I don't see many other visitors there anyway, which is not to say they aren't there, just that perhaps they don't comment. This would be fairly incomprehensible except that Alison is, I suppose, a writer first and a blogger second, so she doesn't really do it for the chitchat (though she frequently leaves very friendly, warm responses to comments left...). I imagine she does it because she simply can't stop herself writing wonderful things.
And when I say a writer, I mean a proper one, Pullitzer Prize nominated, stacks of awards, a pile of published books, for adults, young adults and children. But starstruck as I am by all that, that wasn't why I first went there, or why I read it now.
I'm sorry to say I didn't know of her before discovering her blog (and here I imagine some people, especially perhaps American readers or those with youngsters, rolling their eyes and saying 'What, never heard of Alison McGhee?'), and I did so quite by chance when I was doing an image search a little while ago for a photograph of wild strawberries to use in a painting to make a card for someone who liked the Bergman film of the same title, and she happened to have one, along with this post on the subject.
I go on reading there for the captivating, luminous magic of the writing. Which is filled with joy and love and humour and also piercingly sad and filled with loss in ways that most people can't or daren't get close to. She seems to be one of those people who vibrates on a different frequency from the rest of us, and who knows what to do with it, takes all the raw material of memory and imagination and experience, holds it and turns it into gold, or dreamstuff, or what you will.
And she likes dogs
I could go on, and on, but better to go over and read for yourself, and I'll get on and order some of her books. In response to a comment on her 'Things she once believed...' she suggested other people might like to write about things they used to believe, so I picked it up. It wasn't exactly a meme, but why not try it ?
Things I once believed, including some I still might believe.
That I was born at Sandy Bay.
That I would die when I was twenty, having been told by a friend that the dandelion juice I'd just licked off my hand was poison, but a very slow one. I wouldn't die today or tomorrow or soon, but probably...
That certain things I said or did were unforgiveable, and certain others weren't. Wrong on both counts.
That the bath salts we found in a jar by the bath really would taste like lemon snow, just like Kevin Palmer told me before I swallowed them.
That when my dad retired, we'd go and live in the country, and it would be like 'Jerry, the Story of an Exmoor Pony'
That certain things could be fixed, and I was just the girl to do it.
That eating flies gave cats worms.
That only stupid people are happy. This one still hangs around, mostly in a rather inverted way: I am frequently happy, ergo...
That talking, and straight talking, must always be a good thing.
That maybe I had a musical bone in my body.
That certain losses and disappointments must inevitably be terminal and irrecoverable.
That, having lost all that weight when life was awful, I wouldn't put it all back on and then some when life got better.
Things my sister's charming boyfriend told me, such as that his little sister was eaten by a giant spider to which she was feeding pieces of bread. He told me these things because we were not a family who indulged much in fibs and fantasy, so I was extremely gullible. Even so I think I was quite dubious about this one.
That I was cut out to be some kind of people person. That I was cut out to be some kind of recluse.
That we would not still be renovating this house twelve years after moving here. That if we were it would be some kind of shameful failure, or matter much.
That, through no effort on my part, life would begin for real some time in the future, or that the world would change in such a way as to find a place for me, and then ability, hope, motivation, willpower, and, of course, recognition, would all be mine.
That there was some use for the concept of Utopia.
That White Ted really did make his way back to me in Hertfordshire when I was ill, from the car park in Dorset where I'd dropped him.
That the box elder tree was a field maple.
That loving Tom was such a piece of egregious and undeserved good fortune that I could not possibly be allowed to hang on to it, and that he must, very soon, be taken away from me.
That, being last, I was always destined to be least.
That I could never be happier.
(In the end I made this kind of amalgam of a number of wild strawberry pictures, and only used Alison's as reference. No matter.)