The Blue Castle

DSC_7838My first response to The Blue Castle was to draw back from the despair. Lucy Maud! How can you? Because, you see, Anne, the Green Gables girl, had a tough beginning in life and Emily, the New Moon girl, was hurt by horrible aunts and uncles; *but* both Anne and Emily knew she was cherished by her late mother and father.

Valancy Stirling has a mother—alive and kicking—who is overbearing, suffocating, domineering, disrespectful, and mean. We meet Valancy on her 29th birthday, shamed and teased because she hasn’t married. Life has no flavor, living is a grim prospect.

All her life she had been afraid of something…
Afraid of her mother’s sulky fits—
afraid of offending Uncle Benjamin—
afraid of becoming a target for Aunt Wellington’s contempt—
afraid of Aunt Isabel’s biting comments—
afraid of Uncle James’ disapproval—
afraid of offending the whole clan’s opinions and prejudices—
afraid of not keeping up appearances—
afraid to say what she really thought of anything—
afraid of poverty in her old age.

Valancy escapes her horrid little life by fantasizing about living in a Blue Castle in Spain, where beauty adorns her, women admire her and men adore her.

Valance becomes aware of a piece of information, a secret from the family; she throws off her bondage and inhibitions and forthwith says and does what she desires. Her family is shocked—shocked!—and thinks Valancy might suffer from mental illness.

BlueCastleThe plot takes some twists and turns, and Valancy ends up living her life of paradise on an island on a lake. L.M. Montgomery includes her hallmark descriptions of the seasons.

They went for long tramps through the exquisite reticence of winter woods and the silver jungles of frosted trees, and found loveliness everywhere.

I am torn by this book. I can’t help but holler hallelujah! when she leaves her loveless family. Happy Independence Day! The happiness she finds is, however, very private, very insular. I doubt that life can be so fulfilling when lived without community. I’m not a fan of what Valancy says about living life to please herself…whoo, boy, that’s a recipe for misery. But I love the compassion she shows to a single mother shunned by society.

I laughed aloud at the imitation swearing comment. A reference that made me snort but will only be caught by those who know old hymns. Maud surely knows how to make fun.

…had her moles removed by electrolysis—which Aunt Mildred thought was a wicked evasion of the puposes of God.

“There are things worse than death,” said Uncle James, believing that it was the first time in the world that such statement had been made.

Valancy lived with me for many days after I finished the book, a sign of a good read.

Rethinking Winter

photo credit: National Audubon Society

photo credit: National Audubon Society

Ought not
WINTER
in allegorical designs,
rather be represented by
such things that might suggest HOPE
than convey a cold and grim despair?
the withered leaf, the snowflake,
the hedge-bill that cuts and destroys—
Why these?
Why not rather the dear larks for one?
The lark, the bird of the light is there
in the bitter short days.
Put the lark then for winter,
a sign of HOPE,
a certainty of
summer.

…the bud is alive in its sheath;
the green corn under the snow;
the lark twitters as he passes.
Now these to me are the allegory of winter.

— from Out of Doors in February
by Richard Jefferies

55 Photographs

 Sherry was kind enough to be born exactly three months before me.
Her annual celebrations give me great ideas, which, alas, I seldom do.
But, this year, I believe I will follow through on several 55 lists.
It’s not my birthday today, but September is my birthday month.

Let’s start with 55 Photographs.
Oh, the places you will go!
One benefit of coming from a large, spread out family is that you just have to visit your people.
Here are 55 cherished memories.
I took each photo and would appreciate you asking before you download.

1. Sunrise at Atlantic Beach, North Carolina

 

2. Iona Abbey, Scotland

 

3. Iona, Scotland

 

4. Baldy Lake, Oregon

 

5. Imler, Pennsylvania

 

6. La Grande, Oregon

 

 

7. Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington

 

8. Country Bible Church, Whitman County, Washington

 

 9. Duart Castle, Isle of Mull, Scotland

 

10. Richland, Oregon

 

11. York, England

 

12. Casco Bay, Maine

 

13. Moscow, Idaho

 

14. Columbia River, Boardman, Oregon

 

15. Snake River near Richland, Oregon

 

 

16. Sebago, Maine

 

17. Cumberland, Maine

 

18. Lostine Canyon, Oregon

 

19. Enterprise, Oregon

 

20. Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Burns, Oregon

 

 

21. Mt. Shasta, as seen from Klamath Falls, Oregon

 

22. Imnaha, Oregon

 

23. Blue Ridge, Georgia

 

24. Franklin, Tennessee

 

25. Joseph Canyon, Oregon

 

26. Grande Ronde Valley, Oregon

 

27. Troy, Idaho

 

28. Rattlesnake Highway, Oregon

 

29. Chicago, Illinois

 

30. University of Chicago

 

31. Baraboo, Wisconsin

 

32. Lombard, Illinois

 

33. Wallowa, Oregon

 

34. Cary, North Carolina

 

35. Potlatch, Idaho

 

36. Baker City, Oregon

 

37. Haines, Oregon

 

 

38. La Grande, Oregon

 

39. Glamis Castle, Angus, Scotland

 

40. Outside Jasper, Alberta

 

41. Bridge of Sighs, Oxford, England

 

 

42. Lower British Columbia

 

43. On the way to Banff

 

44. Crowsnest Pass, Alberta

 

45.  Columbia Icefields, Alberta

 

46. Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint, Idaho

 

47.  Seattle, Washington

 

48. Wildlife crossing on way to Banff

 

49. Southern Washington

 

 

50. Approaching Baker City, Oregon

 

51.  High Valley, Alberta

 

52.  Alberta prairie

 

 

53.  Joseph, Oregon

 

54.  Haines, Oregon

 

55.  Home