Wednesday, April 23, 2008

reading challenge #9

I started The Perfection of the Morning by Sharon Butala one rare day when I was riding the subway alone. When I stepped off at Eglinton station a woman stopped me to say the book was an all-time favourite of hers, and that she happened upon it at a time in her life when she needed a change. The woman, who easily looked 20 years younger than she told me she was (and my goodness, I believe she told me she had 6 children!) left quite an impression on me and certainly inspired me to dive right into Butala's words that night.

Published in 1994, The Perfection of the Morning is equal parts memoir, meditation, and call-to-action. This title had actually been on my non-fiction wish list for some time, and I'd say it completely lived up to my expectations. I did however, read it at a leisurely pace and I'm not sure if that's because I was savouring the experience, or, being a city-dweller with little to no contact with nature, I just couldn't keep focused on the subject matter for too long. Butala herself admits that until you have a similar experience with nature, it is hard for a writer to find a common language to say what they want to say. Which leads me to one of my favourite sentences ever as written by Butala: "The world is more wonderful than any of us have dared to guess, as all great poets have been telling us since the invention of poetry." And being National Poetry Month (for which I have been writing a haiku a day, for better or worse) I think it's just a great sentiment to share.

I was also quite drawn to Butala's musings on how living in nature affected her dreams and the relationships she developed with the wild animals around her ranch. Also her thoughts about women were inspiring even though she admits to believing we have a long way to go before equality is ever truly achieved. Overall, it's quite a wonderful read - I just think the prose had a pace that I had to adapt to. And in the end it inspired me to do something totally new: I suggested to Jay that we disappear to a cottage this summer for TWO WHOLE WEEKS, somewhere that has land around it and a limited number of technological distractions. He readily agreed and we have now booked this vacation, which is my first two week vacation since graduating university. I just hope we city-dwellers can get through it without pining for the internet.

And the knitting comparison: since this is essentially a meditation on nature, I think a very meditative, repetitive project like a throw would be the most fitting. I have not knit a throw yet - it just seems like such an ambitious project to take on, but I can imagine the relaxing quality it would have. And I think this pattern by Norah Gaughan is the perfect choice.


John Mutford said... [Reply to comment]

Wow, I don't remember the last time a book inspired me to do anything impulsive like roughing it in a cottage for two weeks. Have fun!

Teddy Rose said... [Reply to comment]

Great review Sam! I added it to my TBR. Your such an enabler!

petite gourmand said... [Reply to comment]

sounds like an amazing book.
so true how we are all so connected to nature, yet forget about it when we are stuck in the concrete jungle.

two weeks at a cottage sounds blissful.