February 20, 2010
It’s a gorgeously hot Saturday today (36 degrees C) and I spent some of my day in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, which was full of the scents of summer and packed with people. I had my picnic blanket, some fruit salad, water and some reading. What more did I need?
The garden was busy but by walking up hill for a few minutes I managed to find a tree with some shade and plonked myself down to take in the scenery. Let me see if I can show you a pic.
Now that photo is misleading since it makes it look quite dry. Mid-day light I guess. And then I thought I should put myself in the picture.
See how I can barely keep my eyes open? Not long after that I was flat on my back with my reading in front of my eyes and I managed about three pages before I started dozing.
It’s a pity because I’ve started a post on “reading and depression” which mentions Virginia Woolf and has some excellent quotes. But that can wait for another day. Winter perhaps!
In the meantime I was enjoying the garden and even with my rubbishy phone camera you can see why the yellowwood is the favourite of all SA trees. Yellowwood furniture has this wonderful glow to it, and sadly the best examples of the trees are to be found in nature reserves such as this one.
I must also apologise for not getting round to my usual blog-reads. The heat is addling my brain and rugby season has also just started here, so I will be a Stormers fan for a good few weeks before I start to get a little disenchanted again. Every year we say the same thing: This year’s the year. They’ll make the semis for sure. We’ll see about that.
Update: Just wanted to add that I’m loving The New Yorker Fiction podcasts. Listened to Julian Barnes reading Frank O’Connor, Orhan Pamuk reading Vladimir Nabokov and somebody ferris reading George Saunders. The Saunders was amazing. Saunders himself reads Isaac Babel. Also great. I love hearing these authors’ voices. Julian Barnes sounded a little like Tony Blair for a few moments there. I wonder if he knows!
August 12, 2008
I had a group meeting yesterday on the theme of commitment so I went looking for inspirational poems or quotes while I allowed myself to get side-tracked into The New Yorker for poems and cartoons.
Being in a slightly melancholy mood, I turned to a melancholy-sounding poem called “The God of Loneliness” by Philip Schultz. It’s about fathers queuing outside a toy store for their sons and it reminds me of how I tend to take my own father for granted. Then I read “One can miss mountains” by Todd Boss. The last lines go: “A man can leave this earth and take nothing — not even longing — with him”. Loneliness and longing remind us of what we’re trying to regain. Jack Gilbert, in “After Love”, writes: “There is somehow a pleasure in the loss. In the yearning. The pain going this way and that.”
There’s nothing I can find about commitment in The New Yorker poetry section but there is a fun poem about gadgets by Dorothea Tanning called ‘Never Mind’. “I caught the toaster eating my toast,” she says. “Did I press the right buttons on all these buttonless surfaces, daring me to press them?” And then I enjoyed reading “Slow Drag Blues” by Kevin Young. I like the part about grief who keeps dogging him and who he addresses as “Good Grief”.
And then a quote on Commitment I can use (by W.H. Murray, who also quotes Goethe):
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (& creation,) there is one elementary truth— the ignorance of which kills countless ideas & splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents & meetings & material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.