Archive for September, 2008


Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Leaving Tenants Harbor is always full of pangs, but when early September comes, it’s time to head back to Minnesota. “You winter in Minnesota?” an incredulous visitor asks. I do. Minnesota’s snow and very cold are easier for me to maneuver than Maine’s moderate clime and post-sunset ice.


Fig.#38. Leaving Tenants Harbor; looking back at Rosledge Books.

To subdue the pangs, I choose a withdrawal read, usually something to do with Maine. I remember the now-defunct Maine Times (newspaper) or New England Monthly (magazine), and I still subscribe to Down East (magazine), and have thought about the Courier Gazette (newspaper) which was recently sold to, but this year I just kept reading the book I started before I left Maine, and, oh joy!, it has become a lovely transitional read.

The book is Ryszard Kapuscinski’s Travels with Herodotus, a treasure of essays written in the late 50’s and 60’s (so far) as he began his career as a reporter from Poland traveling to Third World countries (India, China, Congo, and Iran, so far) with his editor’s gift: a copy of Herodotus’ Histories. What a great gift — to him and now, to us! (There is a well-reviewed new translation of Heodotus’ Histories published last year.) So I read it and think about other places, including Roseledge Books’ front porch, connect as I can, and get ready to face the houseboundedness that is much of winter.


Fig. #39. Trying to wish a last look into a memory.

Why read? Reason #2: Read more to appreciate more — about places, people, or things, before, during, or after an encounter. Life will be fuller and more fun.

I remember dismissing all seagulls because I so disliked Jonathan Livingston Seagull. A friend told me to learn more about seagulls and my opinion might change. I did and it did and today I love waiting for the summer sounds of gulls, watching them soar above the returning lobster boats in the harbor, and looking long and carefully at Jamie Wyeth’s paintings of gulls. (I have his gull poster next to the washing machine.)

The webcam is hibernating.


Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Two boaters stopped by for a treasure and a visit about books and wondered if RB had anything about Egypt, as they were about to cruise the Nile. The answer, of course, is “of course.” The gauntlet was tossed.

Fig. #37. Not the Nile, but surely another country.

I quickly scanned my mental rolodex of books on the shelves, so I could stay on the porch while they looked.

Dalrymple, William. From the Holy Mountain: A Journey among the Christians of the Middle East
Okay, checking 1500 years of monastery living from Mt. Athos to Egypt (as first noted in the late 6th Century by two travelers) may not be an obvious choice, but it’s a great book.
Kapuscinski, Ryszard. Travels with Herodotus (Vintage International)
I’m only at the point where the journalist/author has been assigned to cover Africa in the early 60‘s, so I’m not sure how much Egypt is mentioned; but his chapters on his first-ever visits to India and China are wonderful.
Lavagnino, Alessandra. Librarians of Alexandria: A Tale of Two Sisters
Okay, this well-reviewed novel takes place in multi-generational, contemporary Italy, but RB would have this on the title alone. I haven’t read it yet, but the back-of-the-book remarks suggest at least a trip to Alexandria, Egypt is included.
Mahfouz, Naguib. Palace Walk (Cairo Trilogy)
Set in Cairo in the 1920’s, this story of a Muslim family/household is part of the author’s Cairo Trilogy, which is part of the reason Naguib Mahfouz won the Nobel prize for Literature. I loved reading and learning from this novel, but it may not be for every Nile-goer.
Silva, Daniel. The Secret Servant (Gabriel Allon)
The latest in a great series featuring Gabriel Allon, art restorer and Israel agent, this adventure features European-based radical Islamists, especially those with ties to Egypt. Good, but scary, perspective.

No takers for any of those. I didn’t have Alan Moorhead’s The White Nile or The Blue Nile, I forgot Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody series set in Egypt’s early 20th C. pyramid country (RB has Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody, Book 1)), and visiting archaeologist Eric regaled all with tales of the black pharaohs on the “other side” of the Nile, in spite of my several loud “ahems” because RB had no books on the topic. All of this was such fun. The boating couple chose Annie Dillard’s The Maytrees: A Novel and John McPhee’s The Control of Nature and suggested we start a salon. The front porch looking over the harbor invites magical conversations.

Fig. #36. Can you hear the magic? Feel the high tide breeze? Know for one minute that all’s right with the world?

The first fresh breeze of Fall has come. The oak trees rustle heavily, the water ripples offshore (toward Harts Neck across the harbor), and the Queen Anne’s lace, past its prime but still willing, waves with the goldenrod. I haven’t seen a stand of blue asters or red sumac yet, but I haven’t driven 131 lately to check the ditches. All of this affirms that summer is too short and change can be beautiful.

The webcam is off until next summer. Charlie and I head back to Minnesota tomorrow.