I was sitting with my grandmother in the garden courtyard, in the sun, remembering our old days together - shelling peas in her kitchen, talking for hours on the phone, wandering beaches and country lanes. It was a blessing to have such simple, wholesome memories of her. I would rather have them than recollections of grand, extravagant adventures. If I was to climb a pyramid, I would stand at the crest and feel wonder, incredulation, love. Filling a bowl of homegrown peas with my nana is a quieter kind of love, but it weighs just as much.

The sunlight in the garden was gentle and warming. It filled me with another memory : standing in my imagination in the courtyard of the Harper Hall, looking up for dragons. This is how thoroughly the books I have read merge with my real life experiences. And it is why I believe in being careful what I read, and what I suggest young people read. For me, books aren't just about ideas and stories, but impressions that can remain over a lifetime. The colour of mountains. The pain of a firebird. The warmth of sun on roof tiles beneath a sky achingly blue with dreams. Love, wordborn and for nothing real and yet the love is real, hollowed only with longing to touch it just as you can touch a pyramid, a pea.


  1. You put it so beautifully that yes, I see just what you mean. So very true.

  2. My grandmother lived in Arizona and used to give me crusts of stale bread to put out for the birds. I remember the dry desert ground amp with a quickly passing thunder storm, the smell of the dust after the rain and the smell of the bread crusts and the expectation of birds.

    I don't tend to form vivid mental pictures from the books I read, my mind's eye is not very cinematic. But I inhabit the worlds very deeply nevertheless. My memories are often a mixture of the story and where I read it. Bleak House is both fog and Chancery and the corner of the couch in my parents' living room and nibbling cheese and crackers and sipping tea while I read.

  3. i'm happy to hear that other people live so deeply in their favorite books that the difference between reality and fiction blurs...

    i believe you are right about being careful of what we read and view, and especially children should. because the impressions they leave in us can be lasting and deep, and we should try to fill up with beauty and inspiration and joy.

    i also have memories of shelling peas with my dear granny. that made me smile...

  4. lovely memories
    thank you for sharing

    i like the idea of being careful what one reads

  5. Intoxicating.. your writings, your thoughts, your memories.
    I have few, so I'll drink in yours.
    Thank you.

  6. I wish I got such strong visual impressions from books I read. I do think that the measure of a really good book -- well, let's be more specific, really good descriptive world-building -- is whether I feel immersed in it. It's not so much a visual experience for me, though.

  7. It's interesting how some people are visual and some not. I can't imagine not thinking in visual ways, but then I'm sure non-visual thinkers can't imagine seeing pictures in their mind. For me it's so strong that I struggle sometimes with the whole speaking thing, because I see what I want to say first, and then have to translate it into verbal words.

    But then I find it hard imagining that most people don't see words as coloured and textured with a taste to them, a feeling in the mouth. :-)

  8. Oh Sarah, I'm having such a goosebumps moment! Imagine--there may have been days when young you and young I were scanning skies on opposite sides of the world, searching for the same dragons. (I'm ignoring that little thing called a time difference for the moment.) ;)

  9. Oh, what a wonderful idea!! And entirely possible. Here it's 8am Monday, there its 11am Sunday. Just because our days have different names doesnt mean they aren't the same moment. :-)

  10. What's funny is that I definitely prefer to take information in and process it visually. But the words, the look of them on a page, is enough to immerse me in the story. It is kind of weird -- each individual word carries an image, but it never knits together into a scene -- it's just one little image after another, flashing by word by word.


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