Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
Your Winter Garment of Repentence fling.
The Bird of Time has little way
To fly–and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing!
~The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
We’ve been penitent; we’ve been still and cold and grateful for our mere survival; we’ve huddled close, wrapped up tight and shut away from the howling winter outside. Now, we fling off those wrappings and embrace the world at large. We reconnect and re-engage with blooming, abundant life all around us. Spring, at last!
As you see, we’ve had the fire pit lit up already this season–there’s something so relaxing about sitting around the fire, isn’t there? Partly because we associate it with camping and cookouts, but also, perhaps, because some part of us remembers the thousands of years when a fire was security, our best chance of making it through the night alive.
I’ve just finished Nicola Griffith’s Hild, a historical-fiction novel about the childhood of St. Hilda of Whitby. It’s a gorgeous book, lush with detail about life in 7th-century Britain. Hild, niece and seer to Edwin Overking, lives in both the world of women and the world of men; unusual for the time. There’s a lot of war-making and dynastic scheming, and a lot of mead-making and wool carding. It’s a rare book (and heroine) that manages to be both sword-and-sorcery epic, and cozily domestic. It was 24 hours long, and I simply didn’t want it to end. I was glad I was listening to the audiobook, because I have a tendency to start skimming when I read long books, and this forced me to ‘read’ every word.
Griffith’s writing is wonderful. At the start of the book, Hild is just three years old, watching the machinations of the court with a child’s understanding. Griffith conveys a lot to the reader that Hild herself doesn’t understand, allowing us to draw conclusions from her observations. It’s wonderfully skillful writing. Although, to me, the very best thing she wrote was the Author’s Note at the end, wherein she mentioned she’s already working on the next book on Hild’s life. Grand, I can hardly wait–let’s go for a trilogy!
I’m pleased that I’m sticking to my goal of reading at least two books a month this year; I read very little last year, and I felt the lack of books in my life strongly. I’m just not cut out for not-reading. I’m spoiled for choice as to what to read next (always–my audio and e-book “shelves” are growing as crowded as my physical bookshelves!) I’m feeling drawn to both The Bones of Paris and The Girls of Atomic City. What do you think, revisit Laurie King’s dynamic duo of Stuyvesant and Grey, or make the acquaintance of the women of Oak Ridge, unknowingly contributing to the creation of Little Boy, the bomb that will destroy Hiroshima? I’m interested to contrast their experiences with those of the women of Bletchley Park, doing a very different kind of ultra-secret work to win the same war. Decisions, decisions…
Either way, it will be a happy, bookish Spring–and I wish the same to you!