June 29, 2013

Spotlight on Tan

Mists of Memory 

The Garden of Evening Mists is set against the backdrop of The Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. A place where the main character's hidden memories circle and swirl, revealing as they lift the clarity and depth of what makes us human and inhuman as memory is plumbed against a fault line of occupation and rebellion.
From the beginning, this book draws the reader into a world rich in culture and beauty. History glues the work together and is the engine that drives the characters who are, because of their experiences remote--yet characters that we are drawn to, that we want to know and understand, that are pushed into revelation by the seamless hand of the writer as the reader turns each page, extracting from the characters' memories shocking revelations as well as many unforgettable gems.

Further, it is a love story that steps over wide fissures of hate and animosity--over boundaries that, for many characters, should not be crossed. It's a story of memory, of what, even if we wish to hide it, is important to remember and record because, like the garden in the novel, it serves as a memorial--to the bit that can be made right.

The garden reminds the reader of the first garden where, for a time, all was good, until, that is, the apple was eaten and the knowledge of good and evil was revealed. In the novel, memory is the bitten apple. It reveals even when it is pruned; it forces itself up, speaks the unspeakable and can wither and vacate leaving one, before that happens, quietly keening and carrying on and, later, hopelessly shipwrecked.

While I haven't read Tan Twan Eng's The Gift of Rain, it is definitely, although I am reading other books, on my list. Tan is an exceptional writer; a writer a reader hopes to find. His timing, lyrical prose and vivid images are beautifully rendered and are as loaded as the mist.

June 25, 2013

A Fair Wind...

A few more ships...

It would have been great to see the ships coming in to dock under full sail, but, nevertheless, they were spectacular to see. I especially enjoyed the tour of the Peacemaker with her beautiful wood, great lines and friendly crew.
Before sailing to Brockville, she was in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and before that who knows. But it is nice to think that they might hoist the sails and go where the wind blows them. I have visions of the south seas...

Barquentine ~ Peacemaker, Georgia. A beautiful ship built in Brazil. Finished inside with tropical hardwoods.
Comfortable Wheelhouse

Empire Sandy ~ Tern Schooner. She's a fine looking schooner!
 This schooner sailed up and down the river shooting off its cannons. Definitely a  pirate schooner. Hoist up the Jolly Roger! Bring out the hardtack, and be ready to swing the lead. 
                                                                    Ahoy Landlubbers!
Even with all the excitement, the wildlife found time for a nap.
 Thanks for sharing your pics, Bill.

June 19, 2013

Ahoy ...

 Arrr!  I'm no Jack Tar, me hearty! We're under bare poles fer now, but waitin on a fair wind!
But I've got me grog to wet me pipe.

  In port, twelve ships and what a glorious day!  More to come...

June 12, 2013

Good Form

 Gardens continued...Mad About Trees

When it comes to trees and Bonsai, I've always been a bit obsessed. But even though I have a green thumb, when left on my own with a Bonsai, my green thumb soon yellows and withers. The moral, deniable and, in my case, wildly obscure, is that fear leads to folly.

Recently, while walking through the Montreal Botanical Bonsai gallery, I tried to imagine the people behind the trees.What sages--some no longer with us--I wondered, as I stared bug-eyed at the 270 year old Sargent Juniper, would have the expertise to prune, pinch, water, wire, trim, fertilize, and look after the day-to-day needs of such a magnificent tree. Without warning, a claw of fear gripped my throat, but that was soon overtaken by rigorous toe tapping indignation: why, I questioned out loud, but in retrospect, thankfully, just above a whisper, was this tree not kept behind bullet proof glass?

Agitated, but clearly in control, I tried to piece together my scant knowledge of history. What was happening in the world when this now wizened greybeard was a wee sapling? Okay Google, I thought, don't let me down, but with miles of garden still to tread, Google would, I reckoned, have to wait.

The questions, running my brain, went on and on until, that is, I finally looked around, hoping that the latest sage or group of sages that carefully and lovingly tend the Bonsai would whip out from the wings and amaze us with their knowledge, or, better yet, appear and invite me to lunch. However, since the stage remained curiously empty, I moved on.  Here and there I stopped to admire, fought off a craving for tea, while feeling, occasionally, repelled by the apathy that emanated from the other visitors; but as I strolled, I successfully conjured, in detail, in my mind's eye, the philosophical silk robed sages.

A captivating read:  The Wild Trees
Maple 30 years old
Japanese Larch 40 years old. 
THE SARGENT JUNIPER: Methuselah,or perhaps a Pythagoras? Although the Sargent is not 969 years old, it does sport a look of wisdom at a full 270 years and counting!

June 07, 2013

From the Gardens

 A few pictures from my visit to Montreal Botanical Gardens. Covering 75 hectares, with so much to see inside the greenhouses and out, it is truly a glorious place!
Did I mention the rose gardens, Chinese Gardens, Japanese Gardens, and water gardens?
A lush green wall.
Exotic and so humid your hair curls.
A hint of pink.
A little out of focus. It was a heady experience.
This orchid looks like it might walk away.

Every nook and cranny filled with beauty. Common name:  Fall In Love
 Pitcher plants waiting for a meal. Beautiful but also a bit sinister.

June 04, 2013

Spotlight on Ondaatje

I won all five. What a stroke of luck. And, YES, they are autographed.

Ondaatje is a powerful writer. His books flow on a lyrical tide. Behind the pen, or computer keyboard are, no doubt, fine strong hands driven by the mind of a master story teller.

Ondaatje's most recent book The Cat's Table which I have read, has recently been released in paperback. The story captivated me from its rained soaked beginning. The setting, for most of the novel, is on board a ship. And the ship? Animated--alive from stem to stern. A setting that piques the senses and takes us along on a magical journey of discovery where the reader assumes, without thinking, the role of watchful guardian and, as an added bonus, recaptures a hint of their youth.

A question remains. Can I really do without the paperback? I think not. And it must, I reckon, be a book of the tangible kind with real feel good pages. After all, it's a book that deserves another--this time--since there were many others on the library waiting list, leisurely read.

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