Tunes for a Monday Morning
Nature's gift to the walker

In praise of re-reading

Re-reading May Sarton's Plant Dreaming Deep in the garden at Bumblehill

Over the last several months, I've been re-reading my old, dusty copies of memoirs, letters, and essays by women writers and artists -- works that I first encountered in decades past, when I was much younger. Returning to them now, I seem to be reading different books than the ones I remember -- although, of course, it's not the books that have changed with the passing of time but me. Vera Brittain's Testament of Experience and Testament of Friendship, Nancy Hale's The Life in the Studio, Dorothea Tanning's Between Lives, May Sarton's various memoirs,  Madeleine L'Engle's Crosswick Journals, essays by Carolyn Heilbrun, Susan Cooper, and Virginia Woolf' -- these were all written by women close to my current age, give or take a few years, so my dialogue with them now is a conversation of peers, not age to youth...and there are other differences as well.

Three books by May Sarton

In Plant Dreaming Deep, May Sarton recounts the experience of buying and renovating a late-18th century house in a tiny village in rural New Hampshire, where she crafted a life dedicated to poetry, nature's beauty, and solitude. I first read her book in my early 30s when I, too, had just bought my first house: a 16th century cottage in a tiny village in rural England; and I, too, was deep in the work of renovation. My previous decade, like Sarton's, had been rootless and urban; I'd never lived any one place for long; and moving from New York and Boston to Devon was as complicated and impractical as it was romantic. I was single then, liberated from a long, confining early relationship; I was back on my feet after two cancer operations; and I was determined to re-build my life as I wanted, now that it was wholly mine again.

What Sarton's book gave me was validation of my decision to settle down and make a real home without marriage or children as my goal. Though life had changed for women between the time Sarton bought her first house in 1955 and I bought mine in 1992, it hadn't changed entirely. Single women were still quietly pitied for our presumed failure to find a mate, even those of us with rich romantic lives who simply enjoyed living alone. (I should mention that during the winter months I shared a house with a friend in the Arizona desert, so although I valued my independence, I was hardly a hermit.) A colleague fretted that I was in danger of "turning into Virginia Woolf, " by which he meant an accomplished but dried-up old spinster. (He was as oblivious of my adventurous love-life as he was of the fact that Woolf was married.) The idea of single women as either sexless or desperate was proving a remarkably hard one to shift.

Reading at Weaver's Cottage

Plant Dreaming Deep chronicles the reclamation of Sarton's farmhouse, the planting of its extensive garden, and the slow adjustment of an intensely intellectual woman to the seasonal rhythms of country life. The book is a celebration of the bittersweet virtues of solitude, independence, and self-reliance -- and yet Sarton, too, was not a hermit. Her life was amply stocked with friendship, romance, travel, adventure, and the international web of connection arising from a long literary career. She spent time with lovers and friends in Boston, she taught, she travelled around the country giving readings ... but she did her best work in solitude, and work was her priority.

A woman living alone and unmarried by choice, privileging her writing over other social bonds, was rare enough when Plant Dreaming Deep was published in 1968 that it caused something of a stir. "Sarton chose the way of solitude with all its costs," wrote Carolyn Heilbrun (in an essay published in 1982), "and heartened others with the news that this adventure, this terrible daring, might be endured."

Hamlet's Mother & Other Women, essays by Carolyn C. Heilbrun

This was a message that many in Sarton's generation hungered for and the book was a popular success, appealing particularly to women who had given up their own work after marriage and children and who had little solitude themselves. They romanticized the life she led, imagining a tranquil idyll of poetry and music and flowers from the garden, not the hard labor and professional ups and downs of life as a working writer. Sarton herself came to feel that she'd painted too rosy a picture of her sojourn in the country -- and so her next memoir, The Journal of Solitude, aimed to set the record straight. In this book, she recorded her doubts, her creative struggles, her professional frustrations, her poignant loneliness. The woman who emerges in these pages is prickly, moody, often exasperating...and thoroughly human.

When I first read The Journal of Solitude, I appreciated its craft and intent -- in many ways it's a better book than the first -- but I was, I remember, dismayed by the strain of bitterness that runs all through it. I could not help but wonder: would the independence I deeply craved leave me this bitter at Sarton's age? As I finished the book, I felt obscurely let down, for it seemed to suggest that the price for a work-focused life was high indeed.

Journal of Solitude by May Sarton

Returning to Sarton two decades later, however, I see what I somehow failed to see before: The Journal of Solitude is not a book about the loneliness of the single life, it's a book about depression. This fact is so glaringly obvious that it's hard to fathom how I missed it back then...but at that time I didn't yet know the signs of long-term, clinical depression, whereas now I know them all too well due to a close family member who has suffered beneath its crushing weight.

And with this knowledge, I find myself reading an entirely different book this time, with different insights, observations, explications, and resonances. Instead of dismayingly bitter, Sarton comes across as irascible, yes, but also remarkably honest, tenacious, and brave, pushing through the grey clouds to return to the light not once but again and again. The pain that the poet is never quite rid of is no longer solitude's dark twin; it's the pain of the illness she is coping with, making her periods of solitude both necessary and healing.

A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L'Engle

Likewise, Madeleine L'Engle's four Crosswick Journals speak to me now as they never did before, written in a language of age and experience in which I've become more fluent.

When I read the first three books back in the mid 1980s (the fourth was not yet published then), I found the author's life interesting but alien: her glamorous parents, her international upbringing, her marriage to a Broadway actor and soap opera star, her children, her dogs, her homes in New York City and rural Connecticut...it was all so removed from the life I led as a struggling young writer/editor that we inhabited different worlds altogether, even though we actually lived within blocks of each other on Manhattan's Upper West Side. I read L'Engle's journals with a certain detachment, for other than our shared taste for fantastic fiction we seemed to have very little in common. I underlined a few choice passages about writing, then put the books back on the shelves. I kept them, but I had no urge to re-read them until this year.

Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L'Engle

I opened the first volume, A Circle of Quiet, expecting to re-read it with the same mixture of interest and distance, the same wide gulf between the author's focus (marriage, children, church) and mine. But L'Engle had changed in the intervening years; the very words printed on the page had changed; and yes, I know that is quite impossible but so it actually seemed to me, for now her books had much to say that I was finally ready to hear. 

A quarter of a century has passed; I am roughly the age that she was then; and, surprisingly enough, her life and mine are not so far very apart now. I, too, have an actor husband, a family, a house in the country, a shelf full of published books...all of it on a much smaller scale than L'Engle's, yet close enough to share similar concerns about juggling conflicting commitments to family, community, and creative work. My life took an unexpected turn when I married my husband and became a parent; now I come to these books from a whole new direction, through a door I could not even see, much less pass through, when I first read them. In this re-reading, it is only the third volume (a meditation on Christianity, and how L'Engle's faith intersects with her work as a writer) that I still read with my early detachment...and who knows? In another quarter century a door might open into that one too.

Between Lives by Dorothea Tanning and In the Studio by Nancy Hale.

Terry Tempest Williams and others

I am speaking here of books that reward re-visiting, revealing new aspects of themselves each time you return: Vera Brittain's fascinating, heart-rending memoirs; Virginia Woolf's brilliant diaries; Terry Tempest William's gorgeous books, falling somewhere between memoir and nature writing. (If I expanded this essay into fiction, then authors ranging from Jane Austen to Ursula Le Guin would certainly be mentioned here.)

Other books, however, remain stuck in time -- eloquent and profound at one stage of life, but stubbornly mute when you try to go back; the door that stood open for the person you were has slammed shut for the person you are. Anaïs Nin's diaries fall into that category for me -- so influential in my late 20s that it's no overstatement to say I would not be the woman I am without them, and yet I can no longer read Nin with that youthful hunger and uncritical pleasure. This doesn't diminish her work for me; the diaries remain a classic of the form, and they still have a place of honor on my shelves. But some books -- and it's different books for every reader -- seem to belong to a certain age, a certain stage of one's development. Re-reading them is an exercise in nostalgia rather than one of discovery, and although that has its pleasures too, it is a melancholy kind of pleasure, tinted the sepia of loss.

Every so often, however, I take Nin's diaries down from the shelves again, breathing in the scent of the young woman I once was. Perhaps one day a new door back into those books will stand ajar.

Anais Nin and others

"I, too, feel the need to reread the books I have already read," remarks a character in Italo Calvino's great novel If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, "but at every rereading, I seem to be reading a new book, for the first time. Is it I who keep changing and seeing new things of which I was not previously aware? Or is reading a construction that assumes form, assembling a great number of variables, and therefore something that cannot be repeated twice according to the same pattern?"

I'd say that it's both those things, at different times, for different books, for different readers.

Rebecca Mead's The Road to Middlemarch: My Life With George Eliot is an especially lovely tribute to the fine art of re-reading. "There are books," she writes, "that seem to comprehend us just as much as we understand them, or even more. There are books that grow with the reader as the reader grows, like a graft to a tree."

Italo Calvino, Rebecca Mead, and Patrcia Meyer Spacks

Patricia Meyer Spacks notes that the pleasure of re-visiting our favorite books is one of mingled familiary and surprise. "By definition, rereading reacquaints us with the familiar. It does so, often, by defamiliarizing. The book we thought we knew challenges us to incorporate fresh elements in our understanding. The book we loved in childhood provides delights we never anticipated. We thought we already knew what it was about, but now it tells us that it is about something else. As our memories inform our understanding, that understanding changes. We who love rereading love it for its surprises as well as for its stability." (I recommend her book On Rereading if you'd like to explore this subject further.)

"We do not enjoy a story fully at the first reading,"  C.S. Lewis states provocatively in his essay "On Stories" (1947). "Not till the curiosity, the sheer narrative lust, has been given its sop and laid asleep, are we at leisure to savour the real beauties. Til then, it is like wasting great wine on a ravenous natural thirst which merely wants cold wetness. The children understand this well when they ask for the same story over and over again, and in the same words."

Read it again, children demand when we close their favorite storybooks. Read it again. And again. And again. One reading is simply not enough.

As adults, many of us have a book (or books) that we've re-read not once but countless times ... and I suspect you can learn quite a lot about a person by finding out what it is. Working in the fantasy field, it's assumed that I'm a re-reader of The Lord of the Rings, but I hereby confess that I've read Professor Tolkien's great epic exactly twice: first in my teens and again in my twenties when I was commissioned to write about it. The book I've re-read so often that I've long lost count is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice -- which I didn't even particularly like on my first encounter as a sophmore in high school, but which has dazzled me with its clarity, depth, and wicked humor in every reading since. Re-reading the book in my 20s (thank you, Ellen Kushner!) was the key that unlocked its treasures.

Re-visiting old friends

Dream and Wishes by Susan Cooper

So let us praise the distinctive pleasures of re-reading: that particular shiver of anticipation as you sink into a beloved, familiar text; the surprise and wonder when a book that had told one tale now turns and tells another; the thrill when a book long closed reveals a new door with which to enter.  In our tech-obsessed, speed-obsessed, throw-away culture let us be truly subversive and praise instead the virtues of a long, slow relationship with a printed book unfolding over many years, a relationship that includes its weight in our hands and its dusty presence on our shelves. In an age that prizes novelty, irony, and youth, let us praise familiarity, passion, and knowledge accrued through the passage of time. As we age, as we change, as our lives change around us, we bring different versions of ourselves to each encounter with our most cherished texts.  Some books grow better, others wither and fade away, but they never stay static.

"No reader can fail to agree that the number of books she needs to read far exceeds her capacities," writes Patricia Meyer Spacks, "but when the passion for rereading kicks in, the faint guilt that therefore attends the indulgence only serves to intensify its sweetness.”

Do you feel guilty for re-reading? I never have -- just frustrated that this one short life is not nearly long enough for all the books that I want to read and re-read. Revisiting books over years, over decades, is a multi-layered experience that first-time reading can never match -- though it has, of course, pleasures of its own. Re-reading is a different art than reading, but not a lesser one.

So today, let us praise re-reading, since reading itself has less need of champions; let us praise old books that are dog-eared, creased, cracked, and marked by years of handling. New books are fine but give me old ones too: underlined, coffee-stained, hiding pressed flowers and old letters faded into illegibility, and containing the ghosts of the woman I was and the woman I will be, the next time I read them.

Let us praise re-reading, which only gets richer and deeper with age. Take heart, young readers. The best is still to come.

More old friends

Re-reading on the garden bench

In addition to the books mentioned above, I recommend Lisa Levy's essay, "The Pleasures and Perils of Rereading";  Anne Fadiman's charming anthology, Rereadings: 17 Writers Revisit the Books They Love; and Francis Spufford's memoir of a reading life, The Child That Books Built.

Comments

Dear Terri
I loved this post, and read some of it with tears in my eyes. Thank you.
Amanda x

I am re-reading all of my fiction books in alphabetical order. I did an English Literature MA about five years ago and haven't really read novels properly since then. They used to be my greatest pleasure and passion but writing 20,000 words about archives in fiction in 2008, when the world felt like it was falling down around our ears, seemed frivolous and dangerous. I couldn't *do* anything, so I cast academia (and sadly literature too) aside and set about learning to *do*. Now I am finding that the pull of literature and creativity is coming back, but I almost feel like books are forbidden fruit. I'm using my (still quite extensive) collection of fiction to ease me back in gently. These are books I have kept because they meant something to me. I'm seeing what they mean to me now. One interesting thing that has happened during those five years is that I understand plot and story much much better than I ever did, even without reading fiction, perhaps because life happened to me. I have completely lost my ability to play with words though, which used to give me great joy. I think this ability is just dormant though, and needs to be watered with other people's fiction.

I'm afraid I'm a bit of an intellectual philistine and so the books I re-read tend to be those that I loved as a child and teenager: the wonderful retelling of Arthur and Merlin in 'The Hollow Hills' by Mary Stewart; Marion Zimmer Bradley's 'Mists of Avalon' and of course Tolkien's 'Ring Cycle'. I realise that all of these titles were well researched and drew on great mythologies and legends, but any intellectual worth they possessed was lost on me. Anything more taxing than adventure stories, thrillers and ghost stories I read only at university and I left them firmly behind when I graduated. I was enormously fortunate in having a happy childhood and loving home so I just love re-reading the books that allow me to steep myself back into a time when the problems of the world were somebody else's concern.

The evolving self revolves back for a long look and is enriched. What fine thoughts you share.

I love this post which has pointed me toward rereading Terry Tempest Williams book Refuge, first read many years ago. I too devoured Anais Nin but gave away all those diaries years ago, not opened since I left San Francisco in 1972. I read Journal of a Solitude a couple of decades ago, aversive to the bitterness. Hadn't thought about it as depression but of course. The book to which I return most frequently is Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With The Wolves. And the poetry of Mary Oliver.

I treasure your blog. I'm glad you are back writing again and hope that whatever stony ground you've met has grown smoother.

Sara

Thank you for posting this reply -- Terry's post is wonderful and deeply thoughtful, but I, too, take greatest pleasure in re-reading, nearly every year, my favorite books from Arthur Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons" series of childhood adventure.

I doubt these particular re-readings turn up many new revelations--they are more in the way of "comfort reads." When times are tough, they are a joy to return to, and I never tire of spending time with these children who engage the world with such imagination, inventiveness, and spirit.

Sorry for spelling Terri wrong -- I had Terry Tempest Williams in my head! A fine writer to have there, indeed.

I wasn't going to admit to Enid Blyton and her 'Adventure' series, let alone the Famous Five and the Secret Seven, but if you can admit to Arthur Ransome, I'll confess to re-reading the adventures of Ann, George, Julian, Dick and Timmy the dog....Though come to think of it, I might have revealed this particular secret a few months ago on another of Terri's posts.

I thoroughly enjoyed this post and have taken notes, made a list, and pulled old books off my shelves for re-reading. Thanks. Funny that May Sarton has been calling out to me for a re-read so now it is on my desk, waiting for me.

I am inside "The Mists of Avalon" right now after a long break from fiction. How comforting to be back. I know the Weight you speak of all too well, myself.

This post was a wonder, Terri - thank you. x

Oh my -- about a year ago, I re-read all 21 of the Famous Five books, as well as the "Adventure" series. When I was a kid, I so wanted to be George. And recently I loaned some to my mother (who is not a reader, but who needs things to read to my mentally disabled brother) and she soon asked for more -- because *she* enjoyed them so much.

They were fun re-reads, though the Swallows and Amazons are much more satisfying. I also love to re-read Tove Jansson's Moomintroll books. All good stuff!

beautifully written, terri. i, too loved the same company of women writers. i would add annie dillard and gretel ehrlich and have now a new (to me) woman natural historian to read and love, robin wall kimmerer. with dr. kimmerer's book braiding sweetgrass, i found myself re-reading almost immediately, with even deeper understanding and joy.

So glad to see you back. This is a lovely blog, and the music in the last post, and re-reading in this, have been great to hear/read.

So marvelous, and just what I've been thinking. I'm soon going off to my heart-home for 10 long-hooray days, and I want to take old favorites with me, to read the familiar in a familiar place and let them grow new things in me.

As I mentioned a few comments ago, I reread The Wood Wife again and also found it had numerous
new meaning for me. For one thing, I was closer to the old poet in age, and found it so sad, drowning his
losses in drink. I have too many near to me who do that. But in spite of it, he has a wonderful legacy,
secrets revealed, and so on. I was closer to Maggie when I first read it. The sense of avoiding being a
poet was also, so sad. I think there was a lot about the difference between fame and finding poetry a
gift.

Anyway, if you haven't read TheWoodWife, please do.

Perhaps not so much fame; there's the heavy load of wondering if one can honor poetry
with glorious results. Do I have "it?" Once more, it is a gift without any boundaries, and
all poets are on a different path to the gleam.

The Business of Grafting

“There are books that grow with the reader as the reader grows, like a graft to a tree."—Rebecca Mead, from The Road to Middlemarch, My Life with George Eliot

I have grafted Lord of the Rings and Moby Dick
on my reading tree so often, they make forests.
Dinesen and Yeats cast long leafy shadows.
Dickinson’s slim birches make me yearn for life.

Shakespeare is the old yew tree for me.
Even making an archery of bows from its branches
does not lessen the acres of forestry.
I like the pull, the heft of each play,
the sound of his arrows fletching the wind.

What I have learned in the shade of these re-readings
is how to live a life; not just the metaphor
but the real map of my living. I garden with delight,
composting their words and my actions into a richer loam.

That is the real business of the graft.

©2014 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

I happened to write on this same subject yesterday too, although my examples of favourite re-reads are much less intelligent than yours, I'm afraid. I'm one with the "childhood favourites" brigade :-)

In my thirties now and already rediscovering childhood favorites with my young children. Also wondering how I missed so much in Woolf the first time around and looking forward to all I hope to find there in the years ahead. Thank you for this post, Terri, and for your beautiful site, so full of honesty and grace.

I love this post so much. As always, thank you with love, Terri. ♥

I'm happy you are back! So first, may the healing and well-being continue.

I've just read several of May Sarton's later journals ... still reading the one from her 80th year. The impact on me is not the same as Journal of a Solitude, which, for me, opened a new way of seeing myself individually and is a book I'm grateful to have chanced upon. Your comments have made me wonder if it would resonate differently now. I'll have to re-read it. Also, the mentions of Madeleine L'Engle and Terry Tempest Williams are wonderful. In addition to the Crosswicks Journals, L'Engle wrote Reflections on Water which were oriented to art, writing, creativity and spirituality (so maybe not of interest to everyone) but it's another I've just put on my re-read list.

I think I've read The Woodwife every two years or so (maybe more often). Thank you for a world I love entering each and every time.

And thanks for this consideration of why re-reading can open up such different avenues depending on the time in our lives we do it. Much to think about.

Alas I never finished Moby Dick
I'm glad you found the trick
To not be downed in the pages
Of a story for the ages.

Went to Middlemarch and found
All about love, both find and unsound.
Wept and cheered and wish I could find
In a seance, all what was on Eliot's mind.

Dinesen and Yeats.
I go out with them on dates,
Until intoxicated, good they are
I'm addicted, but not in bar..

I found Dickenson through the back door,
Of being twelve in a choir, whats more
I felt we warbled quite foolishly,
And left off song for her mystery.

Shakespeare is best when read while young,
No expectations, no classes, only word and song.
And to reread and reread Lord of the Rings
is like retuning and retuning ancient strings.

I'm glad these wonder still between covers,
Endlessly new to us who are the lovers
Of word and wisdom, tales and plots, wings
secret and hidden till it comes and sings.

Though I reread this, I missed , "about love, both FINE, not find...."

I would never, ever mind being mixed up with Terry Tempest Williams!

I have a few children's books that I love to re-read every so often, and I know just what you mean about comfort reading.

I re-read Heidi earlier this year -- the first re-read since I was a child, as I hadn't remembered it as a particular favorite. But memory is fickle and as I read it, my childhood love for it came flooding back. The story is lodged incredibly deeply in my psyche and re-reading was like opening the door to a room in my soul that I'd forgotten was there.

Thank you so much, Phyllis. I'm honored to be re-read.

I love both of these, Jane and Phyllis!

Thank you all for these lovely, introspective comments. The best part of posting for me is the discussion afterward here. It's very nice to be back.

Last year I re-read all of TTW's books in the order of publication, right up to When Women Were Birds. It was a terrific way to re-read her, watching themes from each book develop, watching her slowly pull herself away from the Mormonism she was raised in, reading along as her life unfolded. I highly recommend it to anyone who has the reading time; her work is worth it.

Thank you for your good wishes. The ground is still pretty stony, but I'm moving forward, and trying to keep the rest of life going in the meantime.

Awwww.

'Mountain of Adventure' is my favourite; I love the sci-fi elements that dear old Enid brings in! Never read the Moomintroll stuff, though have you tried Tove Jansson's writings for adults? If not I definitely recommend 'A Winter Book', 'The Summer Book' and 'The True Deceiver'. I'd better stop there, this post's about re-reading not recommending books you might not have read yet!

My husband says that when he comes back to something after a period away from it (guitar practice, for example, or martial arts training), he finds that he comes back stronger, not weaker -- as though the subconscious is continuing to process it while his focus is on other things. It might be the same for you -- that your writing comes back even stronger. I'm very glad you're reading again.

I love Annie Dillard and Gretel Ehrlich too. I don't know Robin Wall Kimmerer and will go seek her out.

It gives me great pleasure to think of being re-read! Thank you.

...Dang, I've just discovered that Braiding Sweetgrass isn't out here in the UK until September. It looks wonderful and I will just have to be patient! Thank you for the recommendation, Velma.

What a rich, and beautiful, and wisdom-filled post.
Leaves me more full of inspiration and thought than I can properly say.
Many, many thanks, Terri.

There's little difference between a book and a friend.

After all, the book is the soul of the writer, or a part of her, enfolded carefully into a talisman of ink and paper.

It's good to reach out and meet new people; we are hungry for it; but the deepest joy is in going deeper with the dog-eared, well-worn friends made comfortable by years of companionship. Even they, from time to time, will surprise us.

It seems to me we should be no more shy, then, about re-reading than we should about being faithful in our friendships, despite the transmutations of the years.

Peace,

A.

I re-read The Wood Wife every year or so. Actually I have a tendency to re-read all my favourite books, shutting myself away from the world to get lost in a familiar story, wonderful. I didn't realise there were people who don't do this? It's one of life's great pleasures.

It's NEVER inappropriate to recommend books on this book, Stuart!

you will love it. i used it for my classes in oz in february, reading small portions every day. it is particularly special to me because dr kimmerer lives nearby.

Like Austin -- I think of writers and their worlds as old friends, new friends, distant or close relatives - and it's a joy to meet up with them now and then. We change as we move along our paths and it is a pleasure to 'see' how the literary friends grow in depth as we do -- great mile markers and mirrors if we are a bit isolated in daily life.

I regularly cat sit for friends and I've been working my way through their set of Laura Ingalls Wilder this summer.

Brill! In which case I'll add 'Fair Play', 'Art in Nature', and 'Travelling Light' to the list of Tove Jansson books. All are superb and written in a wonderfully sparse Scandinavian style that is just addictive!

Nicely put Kitchen Boy!

Terri I loved this post, not just for the topic, but the beautiful way you wrote it.
I also re-read The Woodwife once a year. You mentioned that you could learn quite a bit about a person when you know what they read countless times.
So here's question that one probably never gets a chance to ask.......as the author of that book.....what does that say to you?

The first few times I returned to it just for the wonder of the story and the craft and the images. I even bought "Under The Greenwood Tree" by Estampie when I found out it was an actual musical group. Then I began to relate to different characters in different years. Last year was definitely Anna and her paintings.

What does that say to me? I supposed it says that in some way we are kindred spirits, for you've inhabited the landscape I've drawn out of my own artistic preoccupations and turned it into something of your own. Just like there seems to be something I share with Austen, a quiet way of observing people's interactions, a sense and sensibility we share (sorry, couldn't resist!), even though our lives are so different on the surface.

I have to confess I didn't know that there are two bands called Estampie (the German one and the British one) when I wrote the book! It was in the days before the internet was quite as established and thorough as it is now, and when I was trying to come up with a name for Nigel's group and did a search on "estampie," no bands came up. I didn't want to get tangled with a real band's history, and alas, I did. But both real bands are good and play music I can certainly imagine Nigel playing.

I loved this post, Terri, its been a long while since I've had the time and space to check in with my favorite blogs. This offering is a gift, and I'm glad to be able to sit and savour your recent posts now that space has opened for moss-gazing in my life again! I also happened to be listening to Carlos Nakai and Peter Kater and I must say the music was such a perfect score for your words.

I love this post, and have experienced this phenomenon as well. And I'm quite envious of your unicorn tapestry and beautiful dog. :)

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