Bea, your web site is spectacular. I love the colors, the approach, the design, the words.

Nancy

Intoxicating Ithaca

Intoxicating Ithaca

Golding took several decades to realize his dream of visiting Ithaca, and a few months to make his own odyssean journey there by way of Troy.  Many of his descriptions of this and other Greek islands are intoxicating in their brightness and warmth, particularly as one...

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Life surprises

Life surprises

An impressively positive assertion coming from someone who both witnessed and directly suffered from the 'seething layer of bestial refuse' of which humans are capable.  Gorky's childhood memoir is a testimony to emotional and physical resilience in the face of...

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A song to make me laugh

A song to make me laugh

This one I discovered by accident, tucked away at the end of the album for which its composer is famous, namely Tubular Bells.  I bought the CD second-hand in a moment of nostalgia and was unexpectedly disappointed in revisiting the Tubular Bells piece, but it was...

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A perfect awakening

A perfect awakening

There are many such luminous moments, often in the presence of his resilient, joyous grandmother, in the childhood memoirs of Gorky.  These stand out all the more given the often staggering levels of cruelty to which he, and even she, were subjected.  It was a world...

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Begin with breakfast

Begin with breakfast

Wondering how best to get this bright new year off to a good start?  Follow this sound advice from the Swallows & Amazons family.   I got up early to make what I thought were muffins until, having liberally adapted the recipe, I realized it was meant to be for...

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An inmate of this active universe

An inmate of this active universe

This current and timeless phrase - with that curious 'inmate' alongside the energetic 'active' - comes from Wordsworth's image of himself as an infant, tapping into some greater connectivity than mere wifi systems and smart phones. It reminds me of E.M. Forster's...

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Of stars and Dante

Of stars and Dante

On this day, which many of us celebrate as being connected in some way to light and at very least to peace on earth and goodwill to all, let's enjoy the little known fact that in the Divine Comedy: Dante ends each book with the word "stars".And so he does, this...

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A golden hummingbird

A golden hummingbird

Wanted to share a few lines from the song 'Colibri Dorado'.  Below you'll see some of the lyrics with an English translation provided by a listener. I also liked a comment, surely a nuannaarpoq moment, shared by Elena Rincon (approximate translation follows):'Una...

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The inner instinct of memory

The inner instinct of memory

A surprising interpretation of remembering and forgetting by Stefan Zweig, attributing them to an instinctive filter choosing or discarding what sticks in the memory.  It's particularly touching because the book which features this idea was a huge act of remembering,...

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Grab hold of life

Grab hold of life

This year has seen a surfeit of old people whose hold on life has slipped.  Hoyle is an ornery character but one who nevertheless has the spirit of nuannaarpoq, partly by turning a health problem to good use: easily out of breath when he walks, he just walks more...

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Choosing hope

Choosing hope

A few years ago a friend commented that I was an optimistic person.  My response was that optimism isn't necessarily a question of personality, but can sometimes be a matter of choice.  If I dwell on the things that concern me about the world, I can feel as...

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Where I could see an opening

Where I could see an opening

As this strange and straitened year draws to a close, we could do with some fresh openings.  These lines are from the end of Dante's Inferno, as he takes a step away from the torments of Hell towards Purgatory.  In other words, he isn't yet out of the woods, but he...

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Special gratitude

Special gratitude

This is the first time I have seen this thought articulated, that we reserve a particular gratitude to those who have helped us develop confidence.  For me, they would include a number of teachers, from primary school up to post-graduate research, a village doctor who...

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Pebble pusher (ii)

Pebble pusher (ii)

As a life long pebble pusher, I spend some gardening time singling out pebbles for their beauty, whether of form, texture or colour, translucence or opacity, perfection or imperfection.  They decorate the edges of paths or flower beds or circle plants and pots, and I...

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Head gardener

Head gardener

A marvelous way to describe the magic-makers of the world, whether they grow their gardens in writing or any other medium.  People from whose heads paths lead to sunny cities! Do you know anyone this could describe?  I can only think of a few people with this quality,...

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A matter of infinite concern

A matter of infinite concern

As Seamus Heaney describes it, this is a 'heavenly father' who makes wonderful use of the quality of omnipotence, by drawing on his boundless attention, energy and bandwidth to cherish every fallen sparrow, egg or other fragile life form, through all eternity. Yet...

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I sing therefore I am?

I sing therefore I am?

Does this line from one of Rilke's sonnets mean we can say 'I sing therefore I am'?  Easier for gods than humans, Rilke tells us, but let's give it a go, I am sure the gods rejoice when we try.    Gesang ist Dasein. Für den Gott ein Leichtes. Singing is being. For the...

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A hopeful song

A hopeful song

How is it that birdsong can give us such a sense of hope?  Today I was walking up into the woods and heard a bird I haven't heard for years.  Hearing it, with instant recognition, transported me to repeated moments earlier in my life when that same song imbued me with...

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The most radiant conditions

The most radiant conditions

This lovely phrase, in a collection of essays by the poet Seamus Heaney, struck me as being in large part what the world is aiming for when it talks about sustainability, sustainable development goals and related rather dry terms. It is combined with an interesting...

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We are love, we are

We are love, we are

Recently found a scrap of paper with a list of 1960s-1980s progressive rock and similar bands.  I believe I may have jotted them down in a conversation with one of my brothers during which we were revisiting songs we listened to at the time.  To show you how young I...

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While there is still time

While there is still time

Philip Larkin's simple plea for kindness feels a timely reminder that yes, while there is still time, we should be kind to one another, whether that hint of time's limits applies to us as individuals, or to humanity more generally.And if it feels as though there isn't...

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Letters of fire in the sky

Letters of fire in the sky

Balint is the protagonist of a wonderful trilogy chronicling the declining decades of the Hungarian aristocracy in the years leading to the First World War.  He is also one of its most thoughtful, endearing characters.  Here he ponders a moment beneath a night sky and...

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Everything flows

Everything flows

Grossman quotes the Greek and also used this as the title of one of his books.  The eternal river, always flowing, always changing, and always the same. May it carry you safely.  "Everything flows, everything changes," said the Greek. Source: Vasily Grossman, 'Eternal...

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The past is here, now

The past is here, now

Ah, now I see why I always see it, it is with me, not behind me.  I am lucky enough to have experienced life in such a way that the past constitutes a trove and not a hobble. The past is never behind. It is always to the side. Source: John Berger, Pig Earth, quoted in...

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An inventory of sounds

An inventory of sounds

A moment captured in sounds by an alert listener as he walks.  Noting the precious details of the world is for me a strong element of living in the spirit of nuannaarpoq.  Perhaps we could parachute in on one sense or another, sight, hearing, smell, and focus it on a...

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A maritime spectrum

A maritime spectrum

A wonderful array of colours washing in and out of each other with the sea soughing the shore.  It would have taken a sharp eye to spot this spectrum of subtle hues.  Have you ever studied the sky and actually tried to name the range of colours it can present? The...

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To look and be wonderful

To look and be wonderful

A favourite four-character phrase in Chinese is biao li ru yi meaning something like 'surface-inside-as-one', in other words being what you seem, which is to say, authentic.  It soon presented itself as an essential component of a nuannaarpoq manifesto. Here Adam...

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Tea for two

Tea for two

Dogs are playful but otters are surely the arch-nuannaarpoqians of the animal world.  Here Gavin Maxwell takes his friendly otter on the sleeper train with him, and the animal settles into his bunk in such a human stance that the attendant, bringing tea in the...

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Of place and memory

Of place and memory

I had never realised that this is perhaps an article of faith with me until I read of Nicolson's belief in place as a repository of memory.  I remember stepping into a house beautiful in its architecture, position, layout and furnishings, but so steeped in sadness...

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When does autumn begin?

When does autumn begin?

Officially, around 21st September, and this year it arrived with the precision of a Swiss watch.  But sometimes it can slip its calendar moorings, and choose another moment.  I loved this marker of Gavin Maxwell's. Autumn begins for me with the first day on which the...

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Thinking, from every angle

Thinking, from every angle

I love this description of the eccentric British Consul in Rhodes after the war.  The better to mull over a newly striking idea, he would precipitously slam on the brakes of the car and give it his full mental attention. Only hope he looked in the rear-view mirror...

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The long sense of possibility

The long sense of possibility

Insights into creativity and innovation in the song of the nightingale - I particularly like how he draws on what he already knows, as we can draw on our past, both personal and collective, to forge the new.  And 'gurgle-beauty', what a lovely notion! Every snatch of...

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Ah yes, so it does

Ah yes, so it does

A simple injunction, but timely, always. Be patient. It takes time for ideas to become clear. Source: Adam Nicolson, Sissinghurst: An unfinished history (London: Harper Press, 2009), p. 120Photo credit: Quadronet_Webdesign at pixabay

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The purpose of a house

The purpose of a house

To provide shelter?  A roof over your head? Security at night from wolves and thieves? A place to stash your stuff?  Yes, maybe, all those things and more. But also this: a place to dream in peace. I talked to her about Gaston Bachelard and his idea that the purpose...

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An Elizabethan rose

An Elizabethan rose

Adam Nicolson describes his grandmother finding an unknown tenacious rose in the ruinous place which she renovated and transformed into today Sissinghurst Gardens.  I like that this rose is indestructible and might, just might, trace its roots to the original...

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Admiration patches

Admiration patches

Nobody hatched or planned the idea of Admiration Patches.  Instead, they were unconsciously crowd-created by individuals literally 'voting with their feet'.  The gardens at Sissinghurst have thousands of visitors and by the end of the open season, their admiring eyes...

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Why did I never tell him?

Why did I never tell him?

Over time, the need to avoid such a scenario has grown in me.  Without being morbid, we never know when we will see someone again, and it's important to have a no-regrets approach to expressing love or friendship, even implicitly. Recently I called an old friend whom...

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Beauty is not based on consensus

Beauty is not based on consensus

A thoughtful comment on the nature of beauty.  I like the idea that it is a denial of the average and is only possible with exceptionalism.  I don't know if this is true, but it resonates with me. And the innate sense of its own worth, without the need for external...

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In praise of the scruffy and marginal

In praise of the scruffy and marginal

I love hedgehogs and see them as an ambling, loveable, flea-scratching symbol of hope and freedom, as well as the rights of the scruffy and marginal to be scruffy and marginal.  If they can survive in your garden, your garden is healthy. If the species survives our...

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Catch a falling flower

Catch a falling flower

After weeks of dancing around pandemic implications, we were overjoyed to have three members of my family visit us for ten days.  During their stay we spent a sunny day walking around Geneva before visiting old family friends for tea. 'Old family friends' is a general...

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Dancing summer days

Dancing summer days

They are still with us, although we're far from that beautifully named, white-spumed 'maned Aegean'.  Eke them out, enjoy each and every one and then bask through the winter months in recollection of them.... memories of this pure sunlight, these dancing summer days...

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These days of September

These days of September

A surprising insight by the author of All Quiet on the Western Front.  You will never see this month the same way again, here proposed as a metaphor for a stage of life, the ninth month of a lifespan of twelve.  So many fine aspects of a human existence, including...

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Cheer up, you have escaped

Cheer up, you have escaped

Here Durrell describes the woman who became his second wife, who joined him in Rhodes after the war.  I was struck by the comment that a 'sad childhood is poor preparation for unexpected happiness', particularly as there were large parts of my childhood which could be...

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Delightful in its anomalies

Delightful in its anomalies

Hoyle was the British Consul in Rhodes during the two years following the war, and became a close friend of Lawrence Durrell.  He is eccentric, ornery, particular, and funny, possibly unintentionally. He also had a heart problem which obliged him to stop and rest...

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