Archive for November, 2008

Mango walk

I wouldn’t have thought elephants had a thing for mango, but Frans Lanting, in the current issue of Outdoor Photographer, set me right on that score. The famed photographer was relating how elephants, jaded after months of dining on unpalatable parched grass and tree bark, look forward to juicy mango, in trees whose location they vividly remember, and faithfully return to.

A safari lodge in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, he tells us, about to expand their building, realized that, for sure, their new reception area would cut off a route favored by elephants. They were assured, however, that the beasts would find a way around their premises. Come mango season, though, the elephants remained steadfast to their routine. And walked right through the new lobby.

Lanting had a beautiful spread, over two pages, showing an elephant ambling through the precincts, with staff standing quietly to one side.

The pachyderm put me in mind of our friends of the Republican persuasion. Will they continue, undaunted, blithely to plod down time-worn paths, not bothering to find a different way through the political thicket?


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Bedside revisited

Urgings that I organize my side of the nightstand prompted an audit of the thoughts I had gathered there, in potential, to nudge me into the night.

I found books I had not visited for some time, and forgotten, and I ended up sorting and replacing items among their brethren in the hallway bookshelves; and while there repopulated my bedside, minus Jan Morris’ Trieste, which I had a sudden yen for but couldn’t find just then.

The Art of Worldly Wisdom, Balthazar Gracian. A cool blend of Machiavelli and How to Win Friends and Influence People. A friendly little book, aphoristic, something you can easily carry around for when you have a few moments.

A Little Tour in France, Henry James. I enjoy his travel pieces. Italian Hours was my first James book, picked up in a Port of Spain sale bin, cherished, loaned to a friend and lost, a replacement picked up in Lexington, of all places.

The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life, Thomas Moore. My most heavily marked book (in ink!). A reminder of the potency of ordinary things around you, a user’s manual to magic in the making. The very possibility, Moore points out, of pulling sustenance out of the very air, if you have your wits about you.

Swann’s Way, Proust. And Swann’s Way, by Charlotte Haldane. Haldane’s book, a lovingly written guide, can be read as an elaborate cheat sheet. Page 28 to 36 is a lazy man’s synopsis of the whole elaborate, bewildering Remembrance of Things Past: a refresher course, if you will.

And, John LeCarre’s The Mission Song, an unexpected boon from WalMart, taking me back to when, years ago, it was a solemn duty to ready every LeCarre that came, all too slowly, off the assembly line.

Finally, on a practical note, a slew of recurring magazines, and “Dummy” books on photo and written blogs. Drunk of sober, as we used to say in Trinidad, mind yuh business.

There by my pillow, a moveable feast of my own, changing with the season of moods, the wish for different kinds of consumation, companionship in doubtful times.

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