It's really winter, at last. Yesterday Bumblebee and I were riding to school, swathed in knitted headwear, wind-proof jackets and thick gloves. He looked at me and said How much longer is winter? with a big cloud of fog leaving his mouth as he said it. All I could say is A lot longer; this is only the first month. To his credit, he kept riding stoically.
I've spent the last two days over at the Canberra Institute of Technology, sitting on an assessment panel for their art and design diploma students. I've been riding my bike there, and on the way I ride through the above park, next to Civic. This photo was taken at 9am this morning.
There's a calm about Canberra at certain times of the year (and day) that really appeals to me. I love feeling like the only person left roaming the earth... this morning was one of those moments. Usually I only get that sensation on a Sunday night at about 9pm, or in the wee small hours of any Canberra morning. This morning there was a light mist in the air, and I felt like I was moving under water. The trees were stretching up, the same way I'd been stretching up in yoga the night before, trying to remember to keep my shoulder-blades down and my side ribs up.
They didn't look naked, or shivering, or thin, like so many winter trees do. They were reaching, breathing, and loving the cool damp air as much as I was.
I've been embracing the cold, enjoying the chance to make comfort food (tonight we had our favorite beetroot risotto followed by a wonderful nutty quince cake that BB made yesterday) and reading good books (in my nice warm bed, of course).
I was very excited a few weeks ago to discover that Joan London had released another novel, a long time after her amazing first book, Gilgamesh. I adored Gilgamesh because it was so dense with layers and thoughts and yet seemed so simple. It was anchored to outback WA, yet roamed into exotic territory in Europe and the Middle East. Her latest effort, The Good Parents, again has its roots firmly in rural WA, and again roams, but this time she doesn't leave Australia's shores, and instead of being set in the past, she stays firmly in a contemporary scenario. She still explores issues of loss and intimacy, but it's a tighter circle. It seems deceptively simple, but I think when I revisit it (I like a gap of about 12 months for words to lie fallow) I'll find similar archetypal layering to the first novel.
On the weekend I started Sophie Cunningham's latest novel, Bird. I found it very hard to put down, and last night found myself unable to turn out the light as I was trapped in Leningrad under the most horrific circumstances. I can't praise this book highly enough; it just kept me rapt the whole way through, and I learned -- ingested -- more about Buddhism during the course of the book than I have from flipping through countless 'Buddhism for dummies'-type volumes over the years. Which is not to say it's a boringly didactic book. No, it's an international romp with sparkle, depth and feeling. I read a review that praised Sophie's ability to maintain such distinct voices for her characters, and it's true.
Now I've started her first book, Geography, which I know is the wrong way around, but I have a habit of wanting to read batches of books by the same author, and Bird just looked too luscious to wait for. I know the third novel is about Leonard and Virginia Woolf, which excites me greatly, and may I just say here, Sophie, that if you want a glossary of printing terminologies (I heard you fumbling around for 'printing metal' today on The Book Show) to add authenticity to Leonard's voice, I'm your girl. Of course, you may be thoroughly well-researched, and just had a blank moment this morning :)
By the way, that Book Show link was about the latest Meanjin, if you missed it. Good stuff.
I'm not sure which direction I'll head when I've finished Geography. Either it will send me somewhere I need to go, or I'll do my usual re-reading of something classic until inspiration hits me. I may need to go back to Mansfield Park, just to reassure myself that Jane really did know best.