We woke up this April morning to a wonderful, terrible sight. Snow, heavy and wet, traced the black bare branches of the trees; covered the grass and clung to the browned cherry blossoms, smothered the tulips and buried the clump of miniature daffodils that had held on so tenaciously through a week of up-and-down weather.
Here's where I could quote T.S. Eliot (April, cruelest, etc.), but I'm thinking of Robert MacFarlane instead.
Snow is the ideal surface for would-be explorers. It has the appealing quality of refreshing itself, of obliterating the traces of those who have been before. To walk across a fresh snow-field is to be in a very real sense the first person to have trod that path. J.B. Priestly caught some of the quality of novelty and of exploration that snow brings in a brilliant passage from his Apes and Angels: 'The first fall of snow is not only an event, but it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up to find yourself in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment, then where is it to be found?'Mountains of the Mind is the most delightful book I've read since I don't know when, and I wish I could have written it. I'm looking forward to re-reading it, then to reading as much as I can of the bibliography.
Books are a pressing concern. My hypothetical reading lists grow and spider like rivers and tributaries across an endless map, and actual book stacks, squat offerings to various literary gods, are lining the walls of my office. For the first time, I am living somewhere with many rooms, and I haven't figured out where to put the books. They've always lived all together, shelved in a single place, and the idea of multiple shelves in multiple places feels heretical.
I had some guilty pangs as I made all the stacks; very against the grain of the Konmari zeitgeist, these piles and piles of books. Most are things I have read, but some are things I have not, and by the ruthless logic of professional purgers, I should just let them go. But I think these people must not read the way I do. Books live on physical shelves, in my own idiosyncratic order, but they are also ordered in time. Some are books that I know I want to read, but their moment hasn't come yet. For example, J.G. Farrell's Empire Trilogy sat quietly on my shelves until November 2014, when I picked up The Siege of Krishnapur and proceeded to tear through all three books over the next six weeks. Though I finished them, I am not finished with them, so they live on my shelves until I need them next. Most of my books are like this. They act as physical placeholders for my thoughts and memories, and they create a sort of map to the past and future for one part of my life.
By just letting them be, I feel like I create the conditions for serendipity. To walk over to a shelf, pick something up, and make a discovery. If this is not enchantment, then where is it to be found?
I am in a bit of a dissasociative state with my clothes. Baby weight and an underachiever thyroid mean I still don't quite feel at home with myself, and while most things still fit, they fit in different ways. Though I know tailoring would make me feel more pulled together, I can't resist the siren song of chic schlumpfiness: slouchy sweaters and linen pants, slip-on shoes and unbrushed hair. I like to believe intentionality makes all the difference.