Alexander Averin

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Midsummer Musings

Dear Diary,

When bright flowers bloom Parchment crumbles, my words fade The pen has dropped ...


It’s been a long time since my last confession. I’ve been chasing the dead and catching quite a few of the blighters.

I’m working on M’s family tree and getting on really well in spite of having received a tree from someone else, some years ago, that contained a completely wrong link. I had put it all up on Genes Reunited, it took berludy hours and then I had to delete it all because of the wrong line. Ah well, a good learning experience. Check everything thoroughly, especially anything anyone else tells you, don’t ever take it as gospel.

Now I am chasing a French line, this is the hardest of all. M had a French grandmother and we know little of her origins. I am having to learn how to ‘do’ genealogy French style and am calling on my ‘O’ level French. I love the language though, as well as the country - sure I was French in a past life as I often ‘think’ in their language and I could easily live in the country and feel quite at home.

AS a result of doing the tree M and I are planning a couple of jaunts this year: one to Dorset to check out where some of his ancestors came from and one to Northumberland to find a section of my roots. I can’t wait.

I am writing this while keeping one eye on the TV as the Russian tennis player Marat Safin is playing - no prizes for guessing why he is my one-to-watch and my one not-to-miss. I don’t think it’s just his skill with a racket that comes into it.

I’m pleased to say he wins the match, he was the underdog and has beaten a high class player. Djokovic. Safin received a standing ovation; apparently he is a popular guy and the most charismatic player around the circuit. So it’s not just me eh?

I have been gardening this morning. West Cork weather - warm and soft rain showers - suits me fine. I love rain and if the temperatures are clement it is all the more pleasing. I’m still battling with the ground elder, it’s going to be a constant job I’m afraid and even then I will never fully eradicate the damned stuff. I am limiting myself to a couple of hours or so a day in the garden, trying not to overdo it.

Housework is getting neglected when I am in the garden.. I can’t do both I tell myself (and I know where I’d rather be). Ah well, you know what they say about Dull Women.

I lose interest in cooking too, in the summer.

The roses are blooming profusely but the recent strong winds and the rains are spoiling them somewhat. The beds are petal-strewn but I try and save all the scented petals and dry them for pot pourri.

It’s not been warm enough to sit outside, either to eat or to read. One of my greatest pleasures is to sit in the garden, reading. I have a really lovely book at the moment, the classic, On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin.

It was his first novel and won the Whitbread. Chatwin is sadly no longer with us, he has been promoted, but on the strength of the writing in this book I will be seeking out his other past work. I thought I had already read this title but then realised I had only actually seen the film. If I have learned anything, it is that you can’t compare a book with a film, they are two different art forms entirely.

Of course the book is even more interesting because it has local interest, I know the areas in Wales that he is writing about and I understand the history, the landscape, the wild life etc. But I am sure it would appeal to anyone,regardless of where they live. Chatwin’s writing is delicious, easy to read yet full of one-liners that make you stop and draw breath, to re-read and savour, such is their delight to the soul. Some of his writing is so poetic yet humorous too and reminds me very much of Irish writers.

Here is just one example.
(Talking about identical twins).

Because they knew each other’s thoughts, they even quarrelled without speaking.


What else can I recommend book-wise?

Our library book group read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini recently and it was a success, enjoyed by all. I was wary of it as I had been unable to read his follow up book A Thousand Splendid Suns asI found it too harrowing. Kite Runner was not harrow-free but I found the subject matter somehow easier to cope with.

Our current book is Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively which I am re-reading. If you have missed this one I would strongly recommend it to you as well. Beautifully written, in a very cleverly-devised format, 'everything’ is within it and it is one of those books that works on many levels. It won the Booker in 1987, deservedly so in my opinion and I don’t always agree with Booker choices.

In September we are reading a little book written by one of our group members, a philosophical study that should provoke a healthy discussion on the meaning of life. I am really looking forward to that one!

I’ll close now with a poem. Chosen at random but one I love so. It seems so long since I have put up a poem, I hope you enjoy this.


God bless the little orchard brown
Where the sap stirs these quickening days.
Soon in a white and rosy gown
The trees will give great praise.
God knows I have it in my mind,
The white house with the golden eaves.
God knows since it is left behind
That something grieves and grieves.
God keep the small house in his care,
The garden bordered all in box,
Where primulas and wallflowers are
And crocuses in flocks.
God keep the little rooms that ope
One to another, swathed in green,
Where honeysuckle lifts her cup
With jessamine between.
God bless the quiet old grey head
That dreams beside the fire of me,
And makes home there for me indeed
Over the Irish Sea.

Katharine Tynan

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

- Ernest Dowson, 1867 - 1900

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,


LittleBrownDog said...

Your family-tree journey sounds absolutely fascinating! What a wonderful mixture of different lands and cultures. I'm sure it's painstaking hard work though. And completely with you on loss of interest in cooking and housework in the summer - so lovely to be outdoors. (Can't say the same for tennis though, I'm afraid. Even with the lovely Marat.)

Anonymous said...

I always find your blog posts so serene. It's like having bath with Stress Relief Radox bubbles.

Just to say, if you're visiting Northumberland, drop me a line if you are interested in meeting up. I'd be honoured to meet you.

Crystal xx

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Oh I would love to get into family trees, but it just doesn't interest me. I have tried honest.

Interesting that you can think in French . . .

I love Crystal's description of your blog - spot on.


French family tree shoud be quite easy as they are veyr very good at keeping records an never moved about much! Bon chance!!

ChrisH said...

Lots of interest here Cait, as usual. Your family history promises some interesting jaunts. (Ooh, I've just read Crystal's comments and agree totally!) I'm afraid 'The Kite Runner' wasn't for me but I haven't read 'Moon Tiger'.

Exmoorjane said...

Ah, so with you on ground elder.....sigh.
Love love love On the Black Hill. Also really liked The Kite Runner and have had the Penelope Lively on my 'must-read' list for some time so you've nudged me on that - thank you.

Pipany said...

Lovely as ever Cait. I am having to miss Wimbledon this year as I need to be in the sewing room, but there's no Gardener's World tonight so Dave and I are planning to watch the tennis instead. I will be cutting out bunting while I cheer! xx

Anonymous said...

Hello and thank you for the comment! Although, I think it should be a little scary for you to find value in my words. C;)

As for the meaning of life... it's 42 isn't it? C:)

Bollinger Byrd said...

I so agree about the dull woman.... well that's my excuse for not cleaning anyway.
love your descriptions of the roses.

CAMILLA said...

I love reading your Diary's Cait.

I was told that my mother's grandmother had french blood, my son and I did begin on the ancestry of which more needs to be found. I have always thought that I could live in France as my other home if I was not living here in England. Best of luck with your family tree Cait.

I remember reading somewhere years ago a review of Chatwin, I thought then that the author had a wonderful way with words. Thank you for the info on books, this will be on my next library reservations.

I adored the BLESSINGS, I have wrote this to keep in my Dream Book.

Ernest Dowson is another of my favourite Poets, such a passionate writer, shall never forget CYNARA.!

Your posts Cait are like a breath of fresh air, soo beautiful, thanks Cait.


Frances said...

Hello to you Cait.

I try to "save" your blogs to read when I am not rushed or tired. And again, my waiting has allowed me to appreciate all the treasure in this posting!

Your gardening in a very green place surely puts your mind into another range of beauty.

Thank you for the poems.

I think that I have read all of Bruce Chatwin's books, and was very sorry years ago when he died. Maybe I was selfish in my wish for yet more of his writing.

Penelope Lively is a big favorite of mine. Again, I believe that I have read all her books to date. She is an author whom I first discovered via a book review, then just returned to over and over, working my way down "her" shelves at the library.

Right now, I am reading the most recent (2006) book by David Mitchell, Black Swan Green. If you have never read any of his books, a great treat awaits you! I recently read an interview with DM, and am relieved to learn that he has been at work on another book. He is still quite young, has lived in Japan, now lives in Ireland.

All best wishes to you, Cait.

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