We have a lot of cows around us. Seems like more now than ever. Maybe people are preparing for shortages? Anyway I love cows. On the way to the golf course there is a dairy farm and one night the cows were all in a line walking on a path single file back to the barn. I thought about the saying ‘when the cows come home’.
by Janet McNeill – 1964
If it is difficult to accept middle age, is it harder for those who are no longer beautiful and passionate or, especially harder, for those who have never known love?
Sarah Vincent is fifty and, like her group of friends she is resigned to the absurdities of middle age but over the course of a summer Sarah discovers that life can shatter the past, deeply held faiths are destroyed and she discovers that new beginnings, and new love, have always existed for her.
This one was one I had to think on after finishing. One that kinda stays with you for a while, becomes a better read as you ponder it. Sarah is a plain unattractive single woman. Of all her friends from childhood she is the smart one. She lives in her childhood home which has been divided into apartments, rented out to her childhood friends and their children. Sarah seems to be the stabilizing force in everyone’s lives. They don’t see the demons she deals with. Sarah seems to be accepting of her lot in life as the unloved, unlovely one and focus’ on her teaching, students and poetry for which she has somewhat of acclaim for. It’s a time of change, sexual mores are changing. Sarah and her friends meet once a month for tea and discuss life and the changes in the social fabric. We see the differences through one of her tenants, a young married daughter of one of her childhood friends, and one of her students.
There seems to be a balancing act going on in Sarah’s life, trying to maintain between her starvation for love and acceptance of how it is. She seems to be an important part of her friends lives and yet on the edges at the same time. But there are a couple things that happen near the end that shifts this balance and Sarah’s life changes. In the end I found I really did enjoy this read. Janet McNeill never disappoints!
After a rain one day recently We heard this Common Flicker calling away up in a nearby dead tree!
by Elspeth Barker – 1991
At the bottom of a great stone staircase, dressed in her mother’s black lace evening dress, twisted in murderous death, lies Janet. So end the sixteen years of Janet’s short life.
A life spent in a droughty Scottish Castle, where roses will not grow, and a jackdaw decides to live in the doll’s house.
A life peopled by prettier, smoother-haired siblings, a many with a face like the North Sea and the peculiar, whisky-swigging Cousin Lila
A life where Janet is perpetually misunderstood – and must turn from people, to animals, to books, to her own wild and wonderful imagination.
The ‘praises’ for this book and Maggie O’Farrell’s introduction really had me excited about this book! And Ms. Barker’s way with words is nice…
‘Winter descended on the glen; in mid-October came the first thin fall of snow, gone an hour later in the wet wind. the deer ventured down from the hills at dusk, tawny owls shrieked as they hunted through the darkness and shooting stars fled across the night sky. Leafless, the beeches and ashes shivered; the grass was parched with cold; pine and monkey-puzzle stood black and dominant. Only the red earth of the hill tracks retained its color; the puddles looked like pools of blood.
Of all the seasons this was the one Janet loved most.’
But the story was so mean! I just couldn’t like it. At all. Poor Janet. Maybe I missed something vital, but I found no satisfaction in this reading of any kind. Have any of you read it? Can you shine some light on what I missed?
On to something I’m sure I’ll like, a Janet McNeill book, The Maiden Dinosaur.
Do you listen to podcasts? I have a few I like to visit once in awhile. Curtis Bowers is one I listen to on a regular basis. Always encouraging, informational and smart. He keeps us up to date on what’s going on with honesty and clarity. Truth is Curtis’ only agenda. Give him a listen and see if you agree.
“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.”
-Professor Neil Postman
Articles worth reading for further study…
Coming to the end of our girl’s week in South Carolina. It’s been such a great week! We saw the Oak Ridge Boys in concert, boy are they old! It tells in their voices too. But they put on a good show. They closed with Elvira so it made it all worth it! We shopped some at the tourist traps, Barefoot Landing and Broadway at the Beach. But mostly we did hikes at the state park and museums. Focused on history. And food! We ate some wonderful meals! Found some small local gems of restaurants from Mediterranean to Soul food.
Yesterday we took a barrier island cruise. Very windy and the cloudiest day we’ve had so the ride out was very rough but it was still a great day. Passed this lighthouse on the way.
Our crew were so much fun and we had Snack, the boat dog with us. He gets so excited to see dolphin and we saw dolphin! He runs back and forth on the front of the boat and whines like crazy. He’s named Snack because when Capt. Cobb got him at 8 wks. old his older dog Scooby chewed on him like he was trying to eat him so he was a Scooby Snack! He never leaves the Captain’s side and keeps his eye on him at all times. We saw a huge alligator on the high bank slide into the water and make a huge splash too! Didn’t get a pic though.
We spent a day hiking around Huntington Beach State Park. Lots of marshes and birds and gators. And touring Atalaya Castle, the 1931 home of sculptress Anna Hyatt Huntington. I’ve been there before and posted on it . You can check out the post here. Anna opened a huge sculpture garden, Brookgreen Gardens, across the road from their Atalaya home. We did that one day too. She is the foremost animal sculptor in America. She did a lot of horses and they are exquisite!
We seemed to spend a lot of time in the historic oldest town in SC, Georgetown. We did the rice museum and walked the town. Gorgeous old homes on old southern oak lined streets. Also did a river cruise. Went past old plantations and rice patties. I did a post in 2017 on Georgetown you can checkout here all about the rice museum. Here are a few pics from the river cruise, with the same great crew from the barrier island!
In the evenings I’m reading O Caledonia by Elspeth Barker. Not sure yet what I think about it. It’s rather sad how the girl, Janet, is so neglected and unloved.
Our condo is right on the driving range of the golf course and every evening there is a group of Canada Geese eating bugs in the grass. One has no color in his/her feathers! Very different!