I have taken a long break, yes. As I mentioned in my recent post, I embarked on my breast cancer journey some weeks ago, and am now in healing mode after surgery. A period of rain immediately afterwards, and my sister’s visit from England, were extremely soothing. Now it is warm and humid, and the clouds come and go, occasionally scattering a drop or two; and my sister has gone home. But, we move on. Or actually, I have not been moving very much.
Healing inevitably involves resting. I, the very impatient woman, have been resting…and resting. I have also learned to take deep breaths, and learned how to enjoy doing nothing. I have had plenty of time for daydreaming, and reading. I have not allowed much time for worrying – in fact, as little as possible. It is one foot in front of the other, while doing very little.
I am always happy to have more time for reading, so I have whizzed through a few books with many flicks of my index finger. I know many who disapprove of Kindle, but surprisingly I have found that it has encouraged me to read more – from classics like “Moby Dick” (my first read; the language is extraordinary, and it gave me vivid dreams of an infinite sea), and “War and Peace” (a joyful re-read) to more recent novels. I have some Dostoyevsky waiting in the wings for a re-read, too.
“The Murmur of Bees” by Sofia Segovia is a story of family, youth, home, and connection to the land, with a touch of “magical realism” thrown in, set in early 20th century Mexico. The emotion is finely tuned, as a family tries to adjust to rapidly changing times. You can read my notes and highlights (some nice quotes) on my GoodReads page, here. Recommended.
“Gun Island” by Amitav Ghosh, set in the Sundarbans of Bangladesh and the alleys and canals of Venice, is a perhaps over-ambitious novel of legend, history, and the natural environment – with some huge themes woven in: climate change, the refugee crisis, human trafficking. The character details inevitably suffer as a result, but it certainly has passages that are thoughtful and meditative, which you can see on my GoodReads page. Poisonous spiders and snakes make regular appearances, by the way.
Next up is “The Magus” by John Fowles – widely considered to be a gem of 20th century literature written in the 1960s, which I have never read. It’s the August book for the Oxford Alumni Book Club, which I joined recently, and I have just added it to my Kindle library, which is practically overflowing. I am looking forward to digging into it.
So, the month of August sets in, with uncertain weather and the Independence Gala in full swing at the National Stadium. And I continue on my journey. In the next week or two at least, I hope to catch up on a few important stories from our island, so do stay tuned.
That reminds me: Happy Independence Day! More later…
Footnote: BirdLife Jamaica is posting an endemic bird each day during the month of August (yes, Jamaica has more endemic bird species than any other Caribbean island!) on its social media pages. Today’s bird is our National Bird, the Red-billed Streamertail or “Doctor Bird,” which gets an extra airing during national holidays of course. We are fortunate enough to have their darting, flitting, humming presence in our yard in Kingston on a daily basis. You can follow BirdLife Jamaica on Twitter @Birdlifejamaica and on Instagram and Facebook.