I have to accept the fact that summer, that lovely, louche time of being very gentle with myself, is over. It's been so seductive to picnic and laze on the front porch reading and consequently, I haven't kept up my blog. Those days are over now (leaves starting to fall) and I have to face the fact that the whole nature of a blog is timeliness! So hold me to it if I let slackerdom creep up on me again and tell me to start blogging. In my own defense, I'll say I've published a ton of poetry and fiction during this time so I haven't been totally morally dissolute.
Today I want to share one of my little book customs. Every change of season I make a stack of books to work on in the coming months. I will read other things along the way but these are the ones I want to get through for sure. I like some variety: poetry, short stories, a couple of contemporary novels, some classics, letters or memoir, a travel book for sure and something about nature. These things live between the two owl bookends on the table by my favorite chair (yes, I have a favorite chair, so what!) along with my journal, my bookmark collection, and my fountain pens with different colors of ink.
For a classic, I've just started to re-read Thomas Hardy and started with Far From The Madding Crowd. I decided to read Hardy because I was intrigued by Katherine Ann Porter's essay on the contrasting views of Hardy and T.S. Elliot about the "common people" in their writing. She felt Hardy had a much gentler, but very realistic, view. So far, I have to agree, at least that Hardy penetrated to the essence of his peasants, while depicting them, often, as mildly comic.
This book takes me to a time when landscape was so much a part of these people that the death of a tree was noticed and commented on, seeing the tree as one of them, a laborer that had its place in the world of work.
"Yes; and Tompkins's old apple-tree is rooted (uprooted) that used to beaar two hogsheads of cider and no help from other trees."
"Rooted?--You don't say it! Ah! stirring times we live in--stirring times."
A kindler, gentler world, you might say, but the book also deals with the plight of a deserted, unmarried pregnant woman, general illiteracy, no social welfare system for the old, rampant disease and death, and the necessity to find work, or often, simply starve. We have so much more and go so much faster, but I think the French proverb has much truth: The more things change, the more they remain the same. In much of the world, women live precariously close to death for transgressing social mores, there is general illiteracy, especially for women, there is no welfare system for the old or the weak, virulent diseases rage, children die for lack of simple medications, and people starve. Even in the United States, many are hungry and sleep on the streets.
The more things change, the more they remain the same.