Another summer has ended, and what a glorious one we’ve had! Days and weeks, acres and miles of sunshine with all the time in the world to wear our flowered dresses and John Lennon sunglasses. The best summer in years.
Denman Island today hosted its annual end of summer Blackberry Fair. We hopped in the car, expecting to spend ten or fifteen minutes zipping around the exhibits, I was, anyway, (I’m uncomfortable in large groups of people) and ended up staying an hour, just talking with people. Those I expected to snub me were friendly and I ended up, paradoxically, being the one snubbing. So I changed my tack and became the warm human being I truly am. Far better to be open and receptive all the time instead of fearing the worst and on the defensive. A lifetime of strange habits.
In an hour’s time I will be dancing the night away in my old girlfriend’s enormous living room. We’re both old, and we’re old friends, so that’s old on two counts, and we’ve been doing this from time immemorial, dancing for exercise and fun. On the playlist tonight will be Patti Smith and Springsteen. I love them both, for different reasons. Patti because she’s espousing hell-for-leather emotionalism and Bruce, well, they’re not that far apart really, on reflection. So it’s loud and there’s a lot of jumping around going on. I estimate we burn off about 300 calories, give or take.
At this time of year, the tail-end of summer, I envy all the people who live in Courtenay or Comox. They are on municipal water systems and can splash water around with abandon. How lucky is that! We are using our outhouse and having very quick showers. The washing is piling up. In a way it’s a good thing, this deprivation, because it makes us yearn for mid-October and the start of the winter rains. We might otherwise wish to cling too ardently to summer. And that would be unseemly.
We’re still coming down from the past two weeks of visits from family and friends. They always come at this time of year when the water is low and it’s that much harder to keep things hygienic and straight. I discovered a dog toy, a little stuffed animal, behind an end table in the living room. Finnegan will be missing it. Small bits of lego are where you least expect them, inflicting sudden pain throughout the house.
I’ve just finished reading a wonderful book, two really, but I’ll begin by telling you about
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Emily grew up on Denman Island with a different name. She was Emily Fairbanks, the little girl I vaguely remember. Now she’s living in New York, in her mid-thirties, married, this is her fourth novel and it’s a ripping yarn! I couldn’t put it down, (and it’s so hard to find a really engaging book). The premise is the end of civilization as we know it. I know, it sounds so shop worn, but it isn’t, under Emily’s skilful hands. Several lives are inter-connected. Her portrayal of the end of everything modern life depends on, and the descent in to a medieval lifestyle is so plausibly done, so realistic and believable, that it gave me the creeps and haunted me long after I finished it. Yet, there’s nothing ghoulish in it. The book was unsettling, nevertheless. I think it came down to the use of flashbacks. Characters are always looking back to a time before the disaster, remembering the way things were. The book touched a nerve because there doesn’t need to be an apocalypse for us to start to feel, as we age, that we are survivors of a bygone era, a golden time. The 60s and 70s are never coming back. Young people don’t know what they’ve missed and it’s the same for the young people in Emily’s dystopia. I’m making it sound dismal, and it is, of course, but it’s fascinating as well and beautifully written. (Denman (Delano) Island is a recurring childhood memory for one of the characters and Emily boils Denman down so aptly to a place of claustrophobic atmosphere and very tall ferns. She was shorter when she lived here.)
The other unexpectedly good read was Bonnie Fuller’s The Joys of Much Too Much. What an inspirational read about living life large. She says too much contemplation leads to depression and general misery and life is for the living. Busy people are happy people and the commotion leaves little time for self-reflection, and that’s a good thing. I was so uplifted after reading this book. I know other people have said it before but she says it better and more convincingly. She has the big career AND 4 kids! She is just the down-to-earth voice of reason.
I’m going to end on that up beat and head out the door in my dancing clothes (a stretchy colorful swirly dress). In October, when I speak to you next, hopefully the well will be full and I’ll be taking long, soaking baths! Catch you later!