At long last our winter is wearing away. We have had several days above zero, and the snow was melting, melting away.....though we are due for some snow/sleet/freezing rain over night and tomorrow again. The only way I've gotten through these last two weeks is by hunkering down and waiting out winter. In case you think I am exaggerating, this is the picture of our park near my house, taken yesterday while out for my walk:
I discovered one day a few weeks ago while looking through a shelf, that I had a gift certificate from a local independent bookstore, Perfect Books, from Christmas that I hadn't used yet! So I decided, in true book-lover fashion, that it was time to cheer myself up and use it. My husband, who gave me the certificate, was shocked that I hadn't used it yet. I had to remind him that for two months I didn't leave the house unless it was for work, we had so many viruses and illnesses and winter cold blahs - and if I am honest here, I was learning how to hibernate. So I wasn't resenting being at home, I was learning how to slow down for winter time.
Tonight, after a lovely hour wandering the shelves, I bought three books using the gift certificate: 2123 by Kim Stanley Robinson, Wild Rice Dreams by Vera Wabegijig, and The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane. Two weeks ago on a rare date night with my husband, I had bought the other three books included in the picture below: The Reckoning by Jane Casey, Dying in the Wool by Frances Brady, and Written in Red by Anne Bishop. Unpictured is a book I forgot to include in the picture: Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World by Claire Harman.
It was so lovely to be in Perfect Books (link to their online site, in case you are curious) again. I hadn't been in since before Christmas. I really did hibernate all winter. It is surprising how much I hid away, and how much I did enjoy it. I got plenty of reading done, not that you would know by my lack of book reviews here. They will come!! I am exited about my new books, and happy to be able to get out for walks again. I love walking, and I especially love walking in nature. Of all the books I bought today, I am especially delighted by The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane. I never dreamed I would find the book over here, and I've already peeked and loved it.
Sprinkled in the pages of The Old Ways are some of the thoughts of other walkers who were also creative writers, thinkers, artists. History and quotes from books that talk about subject or history in the landscape that MacFarlane is wondering about, so this is like a long travelogue, a conversation we are having with (a very learned conversation!) him while he is out walking.
I have often thought and felt to myself that the best way,
and the only way to really know a place, is to walk it, many times, over
and from all sides, and in all light. Slowly a place, the river, the
houses, the trees, the light, reveals the spirit of the place that I am
living in at that time. I am forced to slow down, to breathe it in, to
feel it with all my senses, and become part of it. MacFarlane writes about what he sees while walking these ancient pathways in the UK, with this kind of idea in mind, "the ideas and journeys which inspire and inhabit our imaginations" (from the quote on the back of the book).
also find that walking frees me up so that I often find lines of my
poems coming to me, or thoughts I want to follow and think about.
Sometimes I find myself looking at the landscape of Ottawa and wondering
what it was like when it was all covered with huge pine trees, and only
the Algonquin and Odawa peoples coming to mingle in the trading parties
in the summer at their camps. How wild this must have been then!
Somewhere underneath all the politics that goes with being a capital
city, far below that artificial level, lies the spirit of the wilderness
and the river that rushes by.
MacFarlane decides to walk the old ways, the hidden roads and paths of the UK, and this book is how the landscape he saw moved him and showed him what our ancestors knew about walking the old ways. It looks like a beautiful book and I look forward to getting to know the ancient paths of England through his eyes and imagination.
See? Books really do cheer me up.