I really like it. It looks beautiful, the colours are lush and it’s a refreshing perspective on the world. I love the idea of excellent dates engaging with Pliny’s figs and mushrooms, your thought provoking note on innocence, and the concept of the songs of men deep in the heart of grape buds.

Nicki

Small boy, large mind

Small boy, large mind

A lyrical description of a boy's realisation that the world is a tiny pebble compared to the stars he is learning to observe. He swings from an awareness of our insignificence to the fact that he has something vast to commend him: knowledge and understanding. 'Those...

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Live to be ancient

Live to be ancient

Long live trees. I love this observation by a dendrologist who has brought to our attention the hidden life and communication of trees. I also love that trees operate on their own timescale and in so doing display an apparent disinterest in a 'scientfically...

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In praise of delight

In praise of delight

We tend to think of piety as being about prayer or action - addressing God or doing good. We know there are many things we should be doing to Save the Earth or Protect the Planet.  Here, in the mid-19th century, is another view, which has a surprisingly modern ring to...

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Why fly when you can swim

Why fly when you can swim

A wonderful anecdote to read about someone else; of course it would be infuriating if it happened to you. Nevertheless, I can't but enjoy this account by Steinbeck of being left stranded at an airport in Soviet Georgia for the very good reason that the crew decided...

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People just like us

People just like us

At the height of the Cold War when Westerners were facing down Russians and vice versa, John Steinbeck and Robert Capa got it into their heads to hop over to the Soviet Union to see for themselves. Visiting three Soviet republics, they finally concluded that the...

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Plump with happiness

Plump with happiness

Another beautiful description of a young dog's capacity for joy and playfulness, even when hungry and abandoned. Vasily Grossman seems to have had a particular sensitivity to animals and appears to convey the deeper reverberations of their souls.  Whether this is...

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Surrounded by sky

Surrounded by sky

The Swiss explorer and travel writer, Ella Maillart (1903-97), spent the second half, or third age, of her adventurous life in the Alpine village of Chandolin at 2,000 metres. We spotted this quotation during a walk through the snow, on an engraving featuring the...

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Pardon my barging in

Pardon my barging in

A beautiful, exuberant image of spring as an emotional and late arriving guest or friend, with its heavy showers transformed into 'copious tears'.  Welcome, spring, tears and all.  We need them to help the summer grow. 'As I write this spring barges in, late, with...

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In praise of the individual mind

In praise of the individual mind

A fascinating comment by a very individual mind on exactly that, individuality and its creative capacity. While I believe also in the power of combined minds, and don't agree with Steinbeck's 'the only creative thing our species has', I do believe that such creative...

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Gathering roses and sprinkling petals

Gathering roses and sprinkling petals

A beautiful, bright image. Mary is one of the finest characters in Middlemarch, with a sure touch and a strong inner light that outshines her outward lack of beauty. She gains and retains the love of a man who needs her steadying strength to right himself. Here he...

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The happiest time of life

The happiest time of life

A beautiful description of the sheer, unbounded joy of being alive in a small mongrel dog who finds herself on the streets of a Russian city. Grossman's capacity to imagine the mind and feelings of animals is concentrated in this essay and another in the same...

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How to surprise and shake people

How to surprise and shake people

Grossman's war writing is interlaced with subtle and not so subtle pleas for individual kindness, small, humble, random, spontaneous, and free of corrupting ideological pieties. Here he comments on the habit people in war acquire for suffering, whether they are...

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Of memory and vivid moments

Of memory and vivid moments

I like Esterly's skillful account of how the vividness of moments scrambles the natural order of past and present in our memories. Vividness can bring the past to the fore and make the present appear like a long-cherished memory even as it happens.This happens to me...

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Alive on this earth

Alive on this earth

Grossman's essay on the Sistine Madonna by Raphael is one of the most splendid responses to art I have read. He deploys all his descriptive powers to encompass what it means to him and to us. Above all, it is a symbol of precious, tender, vulnerable, resilient life...

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The body’s thinking

The body’s thinking

An unusual take on the physicality of our reactions to art or beauty, which Esterly attributes to Yeats as the 'thinking of the body'. I like the wholeness of it, the combination of mind and body in responding to something splendid, man-made or natural. 'What is this...

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An atmosphere of pleasure

An atmosphere of pleasure

In the 1870s Robert Louis Stevenson ambled over a rocky bit of France helped and hindered by a donkey he came to love even while being frequently furious with her ornery stubbornness. Perhaps she thought the same of him. Here he relishes a moment of place-peace, and I...

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Of cake and roses

Of cake and roses

I recently celebrated a birthday. We drove into Geneva for a walk around the old town, stopping for hot chocolates and cakes here and there. Before we left, a friend and neighbour rang the bell to drop off a lace-crocheted initial she had made for me, the letter B...

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Skiing to stop time

Skiing to stop time

A marvelous moonlit moment when David Esterly was skiing to keep the moon in a fix spot, creating a parallax effect. He felt he was arresting time for a moment and luxuriated in its apparent suspension or even reverse. 'Hah! I could make time run backward. If I kept...

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The most splendid thing in the world

The most splendid thing in the world

Vasily Grossman, who lived through and witnessed some of the vilest episodes of human history, never lost his belief in humanity as embodied in the smallness of an individual human being with quirks, dreams, longings and a capacity for love and kindness.He is, for me,...

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An all-embracing toast

An all-embracing toast

Hard to imagine a toast which encompasses more. This is John Steinbeck's description of the open-hearted hospitality he enjoyed, together with his friend the photographer Robert Capa, when they were invited to dine with ordinary people on their month-long trip to the...

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Unspoken kindness

Unspoken kindness

David Esterly describes an act of kindness in which the unspoken is heard in the spoken. His wife lost a close relative. A few days later a lifelong friend and neighbour pitched up with a box of garden-grown vegetables. He didn't mention the loss, only what was in the...

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The great amulet

The great amulet

What a wonderful tribute to love. Why not tell someone that you love them, and enjoy love's protective amulet?And if you're into gardening, let this inspire you to get out your digging gear and start making 'the world a garden'.  (I just planted several hundred...

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Of knee-deep snow and sky-deep silence

Of knee-deep snow and sky-deep silence

I found this a lovely echo, above and below; a soft-silencing deep blanket of snow on the ground reverberating in a boundless, soundless sky-deep silence overhead. From the first book in a trilogy by the Hungarian writer Lajos Zilahy, covering the life and fate of...

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Just visiting

Just visiting

In 1946 John Steinbeck, with his friend the photographer Robert Capa, spent a month in the Soviet Union, including the war-ravaged city of Stalingrad. Here Steinbeck describes a touching encounter with a little boy for whom the memory of his lost father was clearly...

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A slow creation

A slow creation

A marvelously succinct summary of the vast universe that is the evolution of a single human being, with all its subtleties and complexities.'A human being in this aged nation of ours is a very wonderful whole, the slow creation of long interchanging influences.'See...

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The banner of beauty

The banner of beauty

This is one of those wonder-lines which resonate without your necessarily quite understanding them. David Esterly, whose attunement to beauty was nano-fine, probably did. I enjoy the resonance despite the incomprehension and was reassured to find that even someone as...

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They could have danced all night

They could have danced all night

In 1946 John Steinbeck and the photographer Robert Capa spent a month travelling in the Soviet Union. Here they find themselves in the Ukraine, knocked sideways by the strength and joie de vivre of the farm girls. After another long day of hard physical work in the...

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Summer radiance whatever the weather

Summer radiance whatever the weather

Having sent a new year card to a friend, I learned from her partner that she passed away last year. He sent me his in memoriam with a rich array of photos. Exactly as I remembered her, vivacious and luminous, beautiful and strong. The line quoted here seemed a...

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Stake your life, again, in what you dream

Stake your life, again, in what you dream

Isn't this as good a moment as any to stake your life again in what you dream? The start of a new year, a new decade and a once-every-101-years double-digit (101 years since the last one, in 1919, and 101 years until the next, 2121).And if you don't have ready access...

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A weight of glory

A weight of glory

 Merry Christmas if you celebrate it, and if you don't, may you in any case enjoy bright stars and their weight of glory. The message of the day is an ancient one: peace on earth and goodwill to all men.'The stars shone so brightly that they made a weight of glory in...

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Warm blood and solid bones

Warm blood and solid bones

Zorba is one of the great Nuannaarpoqians of the world, running the gamut from Authentic to Zestful. Here is his uncomplicated capacity to feel joy and suffering in equal measure. I also like the phrase 'fine sieve of metaphysics', though not if it impedes rather than...

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Happiness and exhilaration

Happiness and exhilaration

A simple response to what could be taken as a complex question. Send me your own definitions. From the magnificent book which inspired this website - enjoy our quote studded mosaic review. 'Knud Rasmussen, an arctic traveler, once asked an Eskimo man about happiness,...

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Happiness in triplicate

Happiness in triplicate

Here a young woman is three times happy, including the awareness of her happiness and its cause. May you enjoy similar moments of triple whammy happiness! 'She was happy, she knew she was happy, and knew she ought to be happy.'    Source: Jane Austen, Emma,...

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Many legended-island

Many legended-island

Are those legends still alive or did they die with the war, or with the people who told them?  And what if we made our own mental - or real - 'many-legended island' to walk in? Or created legends for the real world? If you have a memory or idea of a 'many-legended...

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Weaving into vivid joys

Weaving into vivid joys

The spirit of nuannaarpoq includes the capacity for feeling joy vividly, regardless of the passing of years, or as Luiz puts it, the 'accumulation of youth'. May your joys remain vivid, wherever you are in life. '... that wove itself into my joys when joys were...

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To be what we are

To be what we are

Another interesting take on authenticity. I like Thoreau's hopeful assumption that being what we are leans towards worthy and nobler qualities.And curious about that invitation - what or who does he believe is inviting us to be ourselves?'We are constantly invited to...

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