The cold snap continues. As I’ve aged my temperature control mechanism has ceased to work as functionally as it used to. In the summer I found the heat very trying. Now, I fight the cold. Looking like a character out of a Dickens' novel, I wear mittens as I type and a warm beret I bought years ago at a fair on Waiheke Island.
Human beings are intriguing in what captures their fancy and interest. An octopus called Paul is world-wide headline news. To date it has accurately predicted the world cup results. If Spain doesn’t win this weekend? What a weight for a beast to carry.
Yesterday the podiatrist and the hairdresser called on me to cut my toe and finger nails as well as hair. Gone are the days when I went to them. The podiatrist sat on the wicker-wove stool I made as a third former at Akaroa District high School. Apart from a few photographs it’s the oldest of my possessions in the house. Anne also uses it to sit on when she puts on my bed-socks at night and changes my socks during the weekend. I can manage slippers but not socks.
Most days I have porridge for my breakfast. Occasionally in the weekends we do brunch. I had such a meal this morning – the remains of a vensions and tamarillo casserole on toast. Rarely has heated-up venison tasted so scrumptuous. Not many peopmle in New Zealand would be having venison at such an hour. Thank you Anne.
Though my chief reading is Lark Rise – I’ve also got Fairburn’s Collected Poems on the go- I’ve been dipping into a book about the American buffalo, one lent to me by Dale. It’s full of interesting facts. For example, there is a recently established herd in the Alaskan/Northern Canadian border. Wolves there leave it alone. It’s never been a natural prey.
I knew that while the ancestors of the horse had crossed the Siberian highway to the Americas that the species had died out in the western hemisphere. I also knew that Cortes used horses to conquer Mexico from the Aztecs – indeed, they were a major factor in his quick success. What I didn’t realise was how quickly this reintroduction spread northwards. Indian tribes that adapted to their use became dominant in the prairies and it became a predominant factor in their hunting of the bison with a major impact upon the ecology of the area. When the Indians got guns the odds were further loaded against the bison.
As I write this on radio Kim Hill interviews Jane Smiley about her novel ‘Private Life’ [see blogs 21 and 22 June]. Smiley had been riding; she rides twice a day. Most of her novels have horses in them. Why did she write the novel, ‘I just wanted to tell a story’.‘What is it like to be married to someone who considers himself a great man?’ Her great-aunt had this experience. Smiley knows hardly anything else about her but this fact. Around this she has constructed her powerful piece of writing. In that era there was no-one to talk to about the perplexities of such an existence.
Smiley says ‘all novels are liberal and political.’ “Novels explore power relationships.’ ‘They embrace individualism.’ Woman’s posiiton – is she a character in her own right or just a piece of property. Smiley realised having written the novel that it was also a parable about the modern American way of life, the average citizen caught up in a foreign policy over which they have no say.
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