Sunday, January 24, 2010

Snowscapes again

From a walk Molly and I took a day or two before the thaw set in. We slithered a bit, and it was rather grey and sombre, but it was not bad walking. We went to the bottom of our frozen hill where we hadn't dared drive, and looked detachedly at the main road which was clear and free of snow and ice and where cars were speeding nonchalantly, as if we were on the threshold of a different world. Then we turned and decided to explore the hill roads while the light lasted.


It all seems a long time ago now.  Despite it being still only January, and fairly cold, the earth is tipping, and the season is changing.  I know this partly because of  involuntary memory, an increase in its intensity. 

So today's sherry, as I poured it and took the first sip as the sunlight slanted across the room, wasn't only something I knew as a souvenir of growing up and family custom.  I smelled the strange smell of the sideboard cupboard, of glassware in the confined space of old wooden furniture, and felt and heard the gentle, tactful action of its door closing on the ragged velvetty seal around the frame, the texture under my fingers of the slightly lifting walnut veneer pattern, which looked like a friendly, ugly little face, on the bowed front of it, and the movement and light tapping sound of its small hinged brass handle.  And I breathed in, momentarily, the air of a family Sunday at home, of modest, limited, slightly constrained conviviality, the cheerful expectation of a good meal - Sunday roasts could generally be relied on to come out well, though the exact hour at which they would be served could be variable - and of a not altogether unpleasant dullness and ennuie, a restful boredom.

This is not especially a memory of any season, but for me this kind of identic, involuntary recall tends only to happen in the transitional seasons of spring and autumn, so a visitation from it is particularly welcome and exciting at this time of year.  Something to do with light and brain chemistry I suppose.


I really did mean to come and visit all your blogs today, but I had to finish 'The Children's Book' instead, since for some days now I have been waking up in the night and thinking about it and wondering and worrying about the people in it, almost to the point of getting up at all hours to continue reading it.  I am, as Dick said he was when he finished it, now feeling quite bereft.  As ever, when one is feeling any grief or loss, I am not in a critical frame of mind about the object of  my bereavement, and rather lacking in articulate things to say about it.  Neither, please, do I really want to know just now, from those cleverer and more clear-sighted than myself, about its faults and failings and why I shouldn't really have loved it as much as I did.

Anyway, as I have perhaps said before, I am a bear, if not of little, of very slow and ponderous brain, and most things take me quite a time to mull over.  I will say, however, that though I have been thoroughly absorbed and intrigued by AS Byatt's books in the past, and have come to feel involved with and to believe in her characters, and generally to admire her talents enormously, I realise that this is the first time I have genuinely been moved by her writing.

Now, since Molly is very much better, and can be left alone for a few hours, (with blankets and hot-water bottles of course!) tomorrow evening, I'm off to make cock-a-leekie for Burns Night.


Catalyst said...

Looks similar to photos I posted yesterday. C'mon sunshine!

Lucy said...

Hello Cat! We had quite a bit of sunshine today, I hope we've seen the last of the snow.

I wanted to say, I don't want to come across as one of those people who sees any disagreement with their own opinions as a threat or an affront, I really hope I'm not! I just want to enjoy the afterglow of having being immersed in a book I've enjoyed.

Dale said...


Pam said...

Yes - I've always loved Vermeer's paintings and then I read an exhibition catalogue that claimed that they were all allegories of lust and deceit and things - I really didn't want to know that! And I don't believe it, so don't let this idea spoil them for you, either.

Lovely photos but chilly chilly.

I'm impressed that you're celebrating Burns Night. Fair fa' your honest sonsie face and all that. (I'm sure your own face isn't sonsie at all, of course.)

Julia said...

I fell in love with some of the characters too. There were so many and so manifold. I read the last few chapters a few times just so I could give them up.

The Crow said...

I was wondering what soup to make this week (won't be until Tuesday, when I'm home from work), and I think I will follow your suggestion.

So happens I have a couple of leeks in the fridge, but will have to shop for the prunes. Sounds yummy, Lucy.

WF is 'wooksu.' How delightful!

Zhoen said...

I'm on the library list for that book, #28, so it will be a while.

Grey here, but I don't mind because the air is so clean, and it might snow, or rain, and that's just fine.

Crafty Green Poet said...

what gorgeous photos, very beautiful! Hope you celebrated Burns Supper in style!

Jean said...

I feel much the same about The Children's Book and thought of you and of Dick while reading it.

That last photo, especially, is very lovely.

Reluctant Blogger said...

I am tired of the greyness and very ready for spring or another burst of cold winter.

I used to grieve a bit when I finished a book. I seem to have lost that knack of becoming completely absorbed in a book and have not done so for years. I'm not sure why. I suspect it is a control thing - I am too scared to do so, wonder if doing so might upset the applecart a bit. But I really feel I must. I am reading a book at the moment - but I just dip in and out of it and it doesn't captivate me but I don't think that is the book itself, more my pond-skater state of mind.

Unknown said...

I will not easily forget your recipe for cock-a-leekie. Having appeared to scorn your use of stock cube to reinforce the natural stock, I confess to now having a stock of stock cubes in the cupboard for additional seasoning. Bon appetit!

Nimble said...

I noticed the little touches of color in your snowy pictures. They almost look tinted, I like it.

How wonderful to be carried away by the book. Sigh.

Lucy said...

Thanks, good people.


Isabelle - I know discernment, critical analysis, better understanding, etc are important, and I really do welcome help with developing them; I don't just want to take a philistine 'I know what I like' kind of line. But sometimes I want just to respond. For me that response can change and develop, sometimes indeed with the input of others' points of view and perceptions. And I don't believe Vermeer was always thinking solely about those things when he painted either, but must have felt delight in the surfaces too...
One of our oldest friends here is Scottish-Canadian, so we've done Burns Night for years. I like having a frugal feast in January, and have become quite good at cock-a-leekie.

Julia - yes, and I quite liked how some of them stepped out of the shadows briefly, and others just vanished, and how the one's I loved most weren't necessarily the main actors... It's an odd thing but I don't think I've done that since I was a child - rereading the end in unwillinglness to let the characters go, it's such a good thing to do. So I'm not going to pass it on to my friend to read just yet, but will pick it up and go over it a bit.

Crow - Soup Queen! The post linked to was a challenge to myself to write the recipe, with the help of the photo, in just 30 words. A whole chicken makes an enormous quantity, enough for about ten people as a starter. But no reason not to make it with just a chicken quarter, and some crusty bread. It is really a two day process though.

Zhoen - glad your air is clean, enjoy the book whenever you read it.

CGP - Burns Night is still to come, apparently there are a few non-traditional elements like baked parsnips and trifle to be expected.

Jean - thanks, I am in yet more good company then.

RB - I do it less than I did, and in fact read more non-fiction which tends to be less gripping, I suppose. Except for 'The Philosopher and the Wolf' which I read before Christmas which had me tearful and sofa-bound in a similar way. It's good to know I can get that involved still though. I think I know what you mean about growing somehow nervous about it.

Plutarch, dear, I have never considered you scorning, even of stock cubes!

Nimble - I like how snow does that... I tweaked a couple of them everso slightly to enhance it!

Lucas said...

I loved your description of the involuntary memory triggered by a glass of sherry: how very clear and tangible it all is - like the photographs of the hill roads in the snow!

Lucy said...

Thank you Lucas, lovely to see you.

marja-leena said...

Lovely photos, Lucy. The lace-like silhouette of the trees, especially in the 4th and 5th photos are truly stunning, reminding me of etchings, by Rembrandt perhaps!

Interesting thoughts about your recalls of past Sunday family dinners!

Your reaction to Byatt's The Children's Book is so compelling that I now MUST get it and read it - in the summer when I have more time. I too find it seems harder these days to be truly and deeply absorbed and moved by a book.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Love that wood pile!

Laura Frankstone said...

Well, I'll have to read it then. No question about it.