Who has smelled the woodsmoke at twilight, who has seen the campfire burning, who is quick to read the noises of the night? -Rudyard Kipling
As a last hurrah before school starts, some of the family has arrived to camp at my parents' place for a few days. I and some other local family members went out last night to have a corn boil and campfire with them. It was a lovely evening of songs and stories around the fire.
“If you cannot read all your books...fondle them---peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them, at any rate, be your acquaintances." - Winston Churchill
The 1817 novel Persuasion is the last one Jane Austen completed before her death the same year. It tells the story of Anne Elliot, who meets up with naval officer Captain Wentworth, the man whose offer of marriage her family and friend persuaded her to reject nine years before despite the fact she was in love with him. Her feelings remain unchanged but the Captain, now wealthy and secure, is still angry about her refusal and is courting someone else. The 1995 film stars Amanda Root as Anne, and Ciaran Hinds as Frederick Wentworth and they are excellent in their roles. The film is very well done, and is a bit more realistic than a lot of films set in this time period. The director, Roger Michell, told his cast not to wear makeup, since respectable young women of the timeperiod wouldn't use it. Also, after they have been walking in the wind, the women's hair is realistically messy and windblown instead of being perfectly arranged, which is a pet peeve of mine. Additionally, the characters' clothes look like they've been worn frequently and lived in, not brand new, unwrinkled and spotless. Persuasion is about a rekindled, more mature love than found in Jane Austen's other novels, perhaps reflecting her more mature outlook at the time she was writing it. Anne Elliot is also probably Austen's most admirable character: kind, patient, and self-sacrificing but not unbearably so. We are rooting for her the whole time to find happiness and stymie the machinations of those around her who seek to prevent it. Persuasion is a great novel, and this film is a worthy adaptation of it.
After church yesterday afternoon,I got together with some family and went picking high bush blueberries in the Valley. Between the lot of us, we picked about 70 lbs of berries, and I came home with a 10 lb box. It took a little longer to fill the box than I anticipated, due to the fact that my one-and-a-half year old niece was sitting beside my box, eating handfuls out of it as I picked.
'Simple,' Tummeler replied.' Blueberries is one of the great forces o'good in the world.' How do you figure that?' said Charles. Well,' said Tummeler, 'have you ever seen a troll, or a Wendigo, or,' he shuddered, 'a Shadow-Born ever eating a blueberry pie?' No,' Charles admitted. There y'go,' said Tummeler. It's cause they can't stand the goodness in it.' Can't argue with you there,' said Charles. Foods is good and evil, just like people, or badgers, or even scowlers.' Evil food?' said Charles. Parsnips,' said Tummeler, 'Them's as evil as they come.' - James A. Owen
This is my favourite part of the book; I just find it so amusing. Nothing really happens, plot-wise, in it: Maud doesn't manage to contact George- and thereby Geoffrey- and none of the other story threads are advanced either. It's simply an account of Maud's failed attempt to send a message to the man she's in love with via the man who's in love with her. The brilliance is in the execution of the scene, and Wodehouse is a comedic genius. Percy- Lord Belpher- is, of course, an idiot and a snob so we don't feel at all badly as he suffers pain and humiliation. He's the author of his own misfortune, and his misfortune is pretty funny. The entire novel is pretty funny, but this section in particular tickles my funny bone. The image of the diminutive Rev. Cyril Ferguson confronting Lord Belpher, defending the virtue of a lady from an inebriated stalker awakes our admiration as well as our amusement. Naive and meek the curate may be, but he certainly proves himself equal to the task of dealing with Percy. This episode marks another occasion of mistaken identity occurring in the novel, and it's probably the funniest one. The sermon delivered to Percy by the Rev. Cyril on the subject of his supposed drunkenness is priceless: "You ought to be ashamed of yourself," he said severely. "Sad piece of human wreckage as you are, you speak like an educated man. Have you no self-respect? Do you never search your heart and shudder at the horrible degradation which you have brought on yourself by sheer weakness of will?" This earnest speech causes the sore, simmering Lord Belpher to lose his temper entirely and results in his incarceration in the broom closet. His later encounter with the blacksmith is likewise amusing, especially the man giving Lord Belpher- supposed derelict- a shilling, and a Temperance pamphlet which begins with a cautionary tale: "Job Roberts had always been a hard-drinking man, but one day, as he was coming out of the bar-parlour..."
If the last portion of the story increased our sympathy and affection for George, this part does the same for Maud. Stymied in all her attempts to meet with George and pursued along country lanes by her annoying brother Percy, she maintains her cool and her sense of humour. She also demonstrates her ability to think quickly in moments of crises. So to sum up, there isn't much plot development through this portion of the novel, but it's a hugely entertaining, especially if you're listening to it in audio book form.
I'm not sure, but I think that the Laura Ingalls Wilder books were the first series that I read completely through as a child. Certainly a lot of them were read to me when I was really young... they were great books to read aloud. Yesterday- August 25- was the anniversary of the wedding of Laura and Almanzo Wilder, who got married on this date in 1885. The account of their courtship and marriage is found in one of the later books in the series, These Happy Golden Years, published in 1943. The title of the book is taken from an 1879 song by will L. Thompson entitled "Golden Years Are Passing By." It is played and sung by Charles Ingalls in the chapter "The Perry School" and is referenced again by Laura at the end of the novel:
Twilight faded as the little stars went out and the moon rose and floated upward. Its silvery light flooded the sky and the prairie. The winds that had blown whispering over the grasses all the summer day now lay sleeping, and quietness brooded over the moon-drenched land. "It is a wonderful night," Almanzo said. "It is a beautiful world," Laura answered, and in memory she heard the voice of Pa's fiddle and the echo of a song, "Golden years are passing by, These happy, golden years."
Here are the lyrics of the song:
Golden years are passing by, Happy, happy golden years, Passing on the wings of time, These happy golden years. Call them back as they go by, Sweet their memories are, Oh, improve them as they fly, These happy golden years. Chorus: Golden years, golden years Happy golden years Oh, improve them as they fly These Happy Golden Years Golden years are passing by, Precious precious golden years let no idle hour be spent With sorrow, grief and tears Ah! The good we all may do As the moments pass To your nobler self be true Reward will come at last Chorus Golden years are passing by Fleeting, fleeting swiftly on Life is but a passing hour Before we know 'tis gone Soon the parting time will come Day by day it nears Have you done your duty well These happy golden years?
And here is the melody (I couldn't find both together):
On the morning following Percy's coming of age party, the son and heir is sleeping peacefully until a chipper Reggie bursts in, full of bonhomie and birthday wishes. Percy is unimpressed; unused to late nights, he has a headache and is in no mood to have a visit from his aunt's stepson. Reggie, undeterred, chats about the party, saying that he was so tipsy that he mistook a waiter for the man Percy had the row with in Piccadilly. Percy is confused; he points out that Reggie hadn't met him, but Reggie says cheerfully that he not only met him, he played a game of golf with him and gave him a lift to his cottage nearby. Percy now realizes in horror that the waiter he met the previous night was indeed his Piccadilly foe, and was no doubt masquerading as a servant in order to meet with Maud. Reggie further enrages him by saying that he thinks George is a great guy and that the family should be encouraging Maud to marry him. After Reggie leaves, Percy gets up and, glancing out the window, sees Maud walking quickly down the drive in what he perceives to be a furtive manner. He immediately concludes that she is going to see George; he flings on some clothes, charges down the stairs and out the door, determined to follow her. Unfortunately, Percy's not in the best physical condition and sprinting out of the house and down the drive has left him winded. He struggles to keep Maud in sight as she strides briskly along the country lanes. He is further hampered by his footwear; having hurriedly put on the shoes near at hand - his dress shoes from the night before- Percy is rapidly developing blisters. He hobbles along, attempting to keep his sister in sight while staying far enough behind so as not to attract her notice. At one point, Maud stops and looks back, forcing Percy to jump into the deep ditch beside the road and follow her in hiding, slogging through the mud and chased by a suspicious dog.
To Percy's consternation, instead of heading down the lane towards George's cottage, Maud heads to the church and walks up to the door of the vicarage. He wonders if he's gone through all this trouble and pain only to discover Maud is paying a call on the local clergyman. He limps up to the gate and leans against the wall, exhausted and trying to decide what to do. As it turns out, Maud had been planning to go to George's cottage to ask him to help her contact Geoffrey. When she spotted Percy struggling along behind her, however, she realized a change in plans was necessary. She knocks on the vicarage door and ends up speaking to the young local curate. She tells him that she is frightened: she is out for a walk, and a rough-looking tramp has been following her for miles. Can the curate send him on his way? The young clergyman, dazzled by Maud's beauty and filled with indignation that she should be so accosted on a public road, asks Maud to wait in the house while he deals with the hobo. Maud tells him to be careful- she fears the man may be deranged, as he's been walking in the ditch along the road. Percy suddenly finds himself confronted by a small bespectacled curate with righteous indignation in his eyes. He tells Percy that he should be ashamed of himself and to take himself off before he calls the authorities. Percy- Lord Belpher- is outraged by this impertinence, not realizing that, red-eyed, unshaven, and in old clothes which are now coated in mud, he looks every inch the tramp Maud called him. He angrily tells the curate that he's Maud's brother. Comparing the respectable young lady in his drawing room with this disreputable creature, the clergyman not unreasonably come to the conclusion that Percy is under the influence of the demon rum. He sternly delivers a sermon to the wretch before him on the evils of strong drink, exhorting him to embrace temperance. At this, Percy loses his temper completely, shouting that he's not leaving until Maud comes out. The curate regards the simmering Percy thoughtfully, then tells him in that case, he'd better come into the vicarage and talk to Maud there. Once inside, the curate opens the door to a room and politely asks Percy to wait in it. Percy limps in and the curate quickly shuts the door and turns the key. Tripping over umbrellas and golf clubs in the dark, Percy realizes that he's been locked in a closet.
The curate returns to the drawing room and tells Maud that it is safe to resume her walk. She thanks him profusely and says with a straight face that she hopes the tramp won't become violent when he's let out. The curate tells her not to worry: he'll enlist help. After what seems like an age, Percy hears the key turn in the lock and charges out of the closet like an enraged bull. He pulls up sharp, though, when he is confronted by the hulking form of the local blacksmith. The smith gives the derelict a shilling and a tract on the evils of liquor and tells him to head back the way he came. Percy does so meekly, limping back along the road as the blacksmith watches menacingly from the gate. Maud, meanwhile, is happily traipsing through the fields on her way to George's cottage.
After sharing a clip of the first Horatio Hornblower episode a couple of weeks ago, I pulled the series off of my shelf and on the last two Sunday movie nightswe've watched the first two episodes. The first one was, of course, The Duel (A.K.A. An Even Chance), and the second was The Fire Ship (A.K.A. The Examination).