I'm on my way to Tenakee Springs, a tiny village on an island south of here, to see my friends Teresa and Larry, and meet with the Tenakee Springs book club. I have also packed flip-flops for the bath. That's the public bath house with a natural hot springs pool where, as I hear it, everyone bathes-- there are women's hours, men's hours, family hours-- and I bet some after hours...Anyway, Teresa said to bring flip flops, because that's all you wear.
Bruce Weber, a long time New York Times obituary writer, said goodbye in a retirement column today with this observation that rings true even for my work in the much smaller Chilkat Valley News:
From Rilke's Book of Hours, shared with you after hearing it read on the radio this morning...
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I've been circling for thousands of years
and I still don't know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
I realize I might as well still be in Italy for all you have heard from me since I returned. I'm sorry. It's not personal. Rather, I have a house full of family and friends and it's been a tad crazy since I returned. Although I did sit down long enough to write two good obituaries this week, which sounds odd, but they were both about people who were well loved and lived productive lives in spite of hardships.
From E.B. White:
"I belong to a small, unconventional school that believes that no rat poison is the correct amount to spread in the kitchen where children and puppies can get at it. I believe that no chemical waste is the correct amount to discharge into the fresh rivers of the world, and I believe that if there is a way to trap the fumes from factory chimneys, it should be against the law to set these deadly fumes adrift where they can mingle with fog…"
My favorite Italian scene took place at a public pool in Florence (it was 99 degrees and we decided to go were the locals do to beat the heat). It was crowded with young people mostly, and a few tourists, actually, maybe two tourists-us- .
"Travel is fatal to prejudice,bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."-- Mark Twain
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." - Fred (Mr.) Rogers
Yesterday I did my weekly cruise ship book talk. Afterwards, while I was signing copies of Find The Good (Holland America Line buys my books from The Babbling Book store on Main St., and re-sells them on the ship, something we worked out before I agreed to go onboard.) Anyway, a woman came up to me and said she appreciated my reading and point of view, and then she teared up, and shared how her mother had died young, 46 or 47 she said, and that it took years for her to grieve.