Books and places

I’ve just started reading Hilary Mantel’s Experiment in Love, and it’s making me nostalgic for England:

In summer, when I was a small girl, we would take a bus to the outskirts of town, and walk in the hills, rambling along the bridle paths in clear green air. We were above the line of the mill chimneys; like angels, we skimmed their frail tops (p. 11).

Of course, I was nostalgic for England even before I ever visited there (not counting being born there), having grown up with tales of the old country from my father and my Nanna. Now, however, the nostalgia is my own – for that wonderful first year in York which I had set aside for adventure, and the wonderful years after that, enjoying the town and the countryside with Michael. Ah, England in summer, with thick green grass, and little stone walls…

Incidentally I think I am developing a crush on Hilary Mantel (after loving Wolf Hall last year) and intend to read every one of her novels…

Last night I finished Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, which impressed and intrigued me. Its communistic leanings are especially fascinating given the intense anti-communist, individualist sentiments here that I am only now beginning to get a feel for. I had no idea that if you earned more money here you don’t get into a higher tax bracket, for example. Back to the novel, however… I really enjoyed his descriptions of landscape and animals – especially the animals – and I liked his characters so much that when I got half way through I didn’t want to keep reading for fear of bad things happening to them. Towards the end, though, the characters seemed to become more symbolic, and you got the sense he was really laboring to make his point. (Almost like the didactic sections of War and Peace.) Still, I enjoyed it greatly and am keen to read East of Eden at some point. The last paragraph really took me by surprise – extreme breastfeeding, anyone?

In non-book related news, I am really enjoying life here at the moment. Felix’s night-time sleeping has deteriorated badly, so I’ve been quite tired, but am feeling much more zen about it just now. There is a really fantastic mother’s group which meets up several times a week in different places, and I’ve been enjoying getting to know a bunch of really interesting women and their children. If I want the car for the day I need to drop Michael at work in the morning, but he works only five minutes away from the downtown river walk, so my new routine is to drop him off and then park at the river for a walk before the day heats up too much. Felix naps, breastfeeds with a view of the waterfalls, and often has a roll around on his blanket on the grass afterwards. When we’re at home my main task at the moment is flipping him onto his back – he rolls onto his tummy, has a look around, gets stuck, then complains loudly. Repeat. Though today at the river he did manage to roll back the other way twice, with a bit of help from the slope of the ground.

Most excitingly, my parents are on their way over here and should arrive tomorrow night. I can’t wait!

Speaking of reading, here is Felix having a go at the Sunday paper, aged 20 weeks:

12 thoughts on “Books and places

  1. I wonder how I’d feel about walking (what is the official name – not exactly bush walking or hiking, right….those walks in the countryside, through pastures miraculously marked with signs pointing the way…is there even a name for it in England? Anyway…) the hills of England after hiking to snow-capped mountain peaks and through dense rainforest? I am certainly keen to find out, but I must admit, it’s Scotland and the Hebrides that imagine myself enjoying one day. I must read The Grapes of Wrath again…we had to read it in high school, but rebellious me never got anything out of assigned reading ;-). Enjoy time with your parents!!

  2. Oh and love the video…Felix is looking more and more like Mama, I think :-). Enjoy those sleep-deprivation-induced zen moments! I do believe they saved my life 😉

  3. I just started reading your blog, and am so curious why on Earth you are living in Idaho Falls (I’m assuming that’s in Idaho, United States)? I read through the whole “America” section of your blog, but found no post on moving to a different continent. Last I checked in with you, you were in Norway. Anyway, Felix is adorable, and I have loved what I’ve seen here so far. The outsider’s perspective on America is fascinating – I only vaguely remember as I’ve been here so long.

    • yep it is! we’re here for six months as michael has a work exchange with a research lab here. he thought it would be good timing while i’m on maternity leave. where are you from?

      • I grew up in Ireland (my mother is from there), and moved to Colorado at age 13 with my family. I moved to the Portland, OR area to pursue my Master’s Degree in 2000. It’s beautiful here, and not too far from Idaho. You should visit before you go back.

  4. You seem to have settled well into the USA, I didn’t know that about the tax either! I read Steinbeck when I was a teenager and loved him so much. Perhaps I need to revisit him now I’m older but there are so many books waiting to be read by my bed. I haven’t read Hilary Mantel so I must have a go at her too. PhD going too slowly at the moment, I won’t bore you with the problems, but I have an extension now until December 31st, so that should do it. It’s Leeds next week I shall miss you being there. Take care of yourselves and your lovely little man xx

    • oh liz you must read wolf hall, you’ll love it.

      agh gook luck with the last push for your phd – i hope it starts coming together for you! have a wonderful time in leeds. the paper i heard you give two years ago was just great.


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