Now that fire has faded and rain has fallen, we're thinking about boating again. We need a vast expanse of water so we can play round with the sails, which we haven't christened yet. So on Sunday afternoon we drove down to suss out Brou Lake. We walked along the lake edge of the sand spit, trying to figure out the extent of the lake with the help of houses in their tiny clearings.
There were some unexpected spin offs to our jaunt. A young couple camping there had been fishing too successfully. We scored their second weighty bream and a recommendation for the WikiCamps app.
I usually try to avoid shadows on the beach when I photograph because I've always thought they detract from the identity of the shell or the seaweed or whatever. If the sun's out, I'll crouch and nullify its shadow with my own. It looks as if maybe I was wrong, yet again. When I decided to feature shadows, I captured delicate images where the shadow doubled the visual pleasure. Maybe I need to challenge all my dearly held beliefs so I can uncover the beauty my rigidity has been hiding from me.
How will our lives, our way of thinking, be changed by this internet, which has seduced a whole generation with its inanities so that even quite reasonable people will confess that once they are hooked, it is hard to cut free, and they may find a whole day has passed in blogging etc.
I'll dare, because I'd be delighted if she came back to haunt me.
My special bookcase, inherited from a beloved uncle and nestled into a corner of my bedroom, contains a lot of Doris Lessing books. I value them enough to keep them close to me, out of borrowing range and therefore safe from disappearing.
I loved the portrayal of Martha Quest, growing up in Africa and then moving out into a wider world. There weren't many young women using their intelligence, independence and sexual freedom in the literature I was familiar with when I was a youngish woman. Nor were there many writers who described landscape so lovingly and precisely, and with such relish, as she did in her novels (and in her Nobel speech.)
My mind is full of splendid memories of Africa which I can revive and look at whenever I want. How about those sunsets, gold and purple and orange, spreading across the sky at evening. How about butterflies and moths and bees on the aromatic bushes of the Kalahari? Or, sitting on the pale grassy banks of the Zambesi, the water dark and glossy, with all the birds of Africa darting about. Yes, elephants, giraffes, lions and the rest, there were plenty of those, but how about the sky at night, still unpolluted, black and wonderful, full of restless stars.
Not many writers had her gift of comprehending futures as she did in books like “Mara and Dann” and “The good terrorist”. More than anything else she avoided the cliche and romanticising of fictional lives, and dealt with hard things honestly, particularly in “The fifth child” and “Ben in the world.” It took me a long time to tackle her “science fiction” because of a dislike of the genre, but when I finally did I found them philosophically and humanely satisfying. Like Yeats, her craft grew and matched her ageing and the world she aged into. Her death has taken me back to her books and all the challenges and provocations they offer.
It's been raining hard and the sea is up. As I walked along the waterline, I saw notations marking the action of the ocean, and imagined the sea as composer, using its power and its subtlety to make marks orchestrating a symphony of the sea.
Continuo throughout: in which a didgeridoo plays notes of power and repetition and snare brushes on drums provide the swishing sounds of the waves rolling in.
In which cello, oboe, clarinet, predominate, with occasional grace notes from the flute, and sonorous intrusions from the bass drum. This movement fades into near silence, with only the subdued sound of the continuo.
Scherzo, in the style of Chopin
I'm amazed at how quickly I've managed to re-establish a walking habit – after a health coach from my health society made an unsolicited call and prompted me back to walking virtue. As always, I wonder why on earth I haven't been striding out every day, since it gives so much pleasure, sensual and photographic. My legs have a mind of their own and they are ready to go almost before I get myself out of bed. My walking hasn't yet become aerobic, although I've moved fast on a few times as the ocean tries to anoint my virtuous feet. However, on one occasion my head was far away from my feet, trying to work out how to say “Róźa's mother” in Polish, when a rogue wave curled up to my knees before I could activate my agility.
Last night it rained and thundered periodically, so I was on the beach earlier than usual in a rain-lull to enjoy the reduced palette and other special pleasures of a grey day after rain: cloud reflections in the wet sand; shells and seaweed without shadows; rain pocks in the sand; patterns oddly reminiscent of Monet's waterlilies.
Maybe I was wrong to say a reduced palette. As I look again at the photos it seems that the light has in fact expanded a limited palette, and provided it with highlights that would be unnoticed on a bright sunny day.
Can I call you Greg? I’ve felt on first-name basis with you for some years now, and in my house, we even have cute pet names for you.
I’m not sure why you’ve decided not to go to Warsaw for the annual climate change talks. I know you are busy trying to repeal the carbon tax, and I appreciate that this will entail a lot of work, but Warsaw is quite a nice city, and you probably will need a holiday away from all those nasty greenies. You’d better not be saving your energy for Paris in 2015 – it would look like you were engaging in stereotyping and overlooking a former Eastern Bloc country while still being willing to show up in the City of Light for a wine-swilling junket. Anyway, Poland has quite a lot to offer the discerning tourist, and with this in mind my…
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I've lived with my fingers for nearly seventy years, and it's only just occurred to me to value the work they do. I've written about legs, hands, breasts, teeth and brain, but I've never even thought about the very particular contribution of my ten digits. They can't be quite indispensable because I've known two men who have lived brilliant lives without the use of fingers. I'm a lesser mortal, and I can't imagine life without all the things they can do.
In the kitchen, I'd be lost without the ability of my fingers to chop spring onions, chilli and ginger for the curry or dates and apricots for the muesli; to grip the scrubber to remove stuck-on food from the frypan; to wrest lids from bottles of jam and sauce; to open cans of tomatoes or corn or beetroot; to peel oranges or mandarins or apples.
In my infrequent forays into the garden, I need those digits to prune callistemon, to persuade the lawn mower to start, to pick my precious lemons from their tree, to continue the murder of my red cedar by slitting its base with a tomahawk and painting on poison, to pull up the proliferating baby palms and to activate the sprayer that squirts pyrethrum for the eradication of ticks.
My fingers are my accomplices as I pursue my obsessions. They tap the keyboard of my iPad and control the stylus as I churn out blogs, edit photos, catch up with the lives of my children on Facebook, flick between apps and wilf on the net. They click the camera button to capture orchids, sea foam, pythons, bark, rock face and grandtwins. They pull the wool over the needle as I battle to master the complicated pattern of my son's jumper, currently growing at the rate of 6 inches a year. They cover the holes on my recorder as I practise Bach and Mozart and struggle to comprehend the vagaries of syncopation.
As I move around the supermarket, my fingers pick up items so I can scrutinise purpose and contents, and assess the quality of fruit and vegetables. They tilt tins or boxes on high shelves so I can get a grip on them to toss into my trolley. At the checkout, they unbutton my Warsaw bags and help me to shake them open, and they allow me to pick through the small change and relieve myself of the weight of 50c pieces and $2 coins. (A palm suffices in Poland, because I hold out my handful of drobna for someone else to sift through.) If I'm shopping for material, my fingers squeeze and assess texture and weight.
My fingers have served me well with my grandtwins. They have manipulated the stroppy fastenings of the safety belts in the pram as I reload two tired grizzly kidlets after a few hours playing on the rug in the park. They have led wondering eyes upwards as I perform the actions accompanying my less than wonderful rendition of “Twinkle twinkle little star”. They have enabled me to change nappies on wriggling bottoms and finesse the pulling of jumpsuits over reluctant heads. They have provided the variation to the drum-beat of my palms as I pursue the rhythmic education of two sets of ears. They have allowed me to extract blades of grass and floor fluff and other tiny discoveries from exploring mouths. It's my fingers that allow me to feel that beautiful softness of baby skin, and to gently ruffle their fine hair.
Subtract from my life all the things my fingers enable me to do, and I am lost.