Tuesday, December 16, 2008

in which the sea reveals a memory of reading

You seem in a better mood today, I said to the sea.
That was an uncommonly bad tantrum you were throwing yesterday.

You shouldn’t have been here, said the sea. Come in now. I’m being very nice.

I was shocked. So shocked, that I slid straight in before thinking too much.

Lie back, said the sea. Trust me.

So I lay there. Only my nose poked out, my head tipped back.
I could sleep here, I thought. I spun myself in the direction of the morning sun and pointed my toes at it. My hair fanned out beneath. I thought about Jane Eyre, almost finished, lying on the sofa at home.

You’ve read that book before, said the sea.

I jumped.

You remember that? Me reading Jane Eyre? I was so young! How different I read it now!

and I thought briefly how strange the sea should know of such things, but then again, how not?

Yes, you lay in the sun, by Cabbage Tree Bay with practically nought on yourself, and dipped youself in every twenty pages or so. You were skiving off school.

I had indeed. I remembered thinking that the moorlands, in their colour and texture may have looked somehow like the surface of weedy rocks around Fairy Bower, but the Yorkshire light, back then, was something I could not imagine. I remembered my little bikini in all shades of blue, and the damp corners of each page of the book, the sand in the spine. Then I began to think of all the strange contexts in which I had read such books, in the sun, under the blue, with my hair in long pale strings dripping salt onto the covers. I used to think I had lived my life in books as much as in the real.

I put my head back again, and lay awhile: the sun poured up my nose and into my brain. I would have slept awhile, but that the sea saw fit to tip a little seawater up there too, so I swam back, all the way to the shallow.

I asked the sea, ( since it was being so loquacious)
Yesterday, Did you think I wouldn’t come in? With you behaving like that?

Of course not, it hissed, laughing seaishly.

I return home: Eucalyptus branches are my Christmas tree, lashed to one of the millions of guitar stands found around the house. It looks quite funny, but pretty enough, and now there is a present underneath.


Jellyhead said...

I think a eucalypt tree sounds perfect for an Aussie Christmas.

Wish I'd been in the sea getting sun and water up my nose too! Must be time for a trip to the beach.

jane said...

Ahhhh...the tree...I may just take a leaf ('scuse the pun) out of your book and lop something off for ours. Lovely.

Anonymous said...

Fine idea for a Christmas tree.

I always write in my books when and where I read them. It was a habit my granny had and we all do it. It is lovely to pick up a book and see the scribbles in the front and remember lying on a beach, or staying in some house you have never been back to since. I often write quite a bit (as you might expect) but that helps in taking me back and helping me remember the effect the book had on me at the time.

Silly sentimental soul, aren't I?

Sarah S said...

I have never read it. I must! That is a good book to read during a snow storm, yet I would rather be on the beach!

I love your photos as usual, I can almost smell the ocean! it is sleeting here! (I love your tree)

Fusion said...

Back in southern California where I was raised we had many Eucalyptus trees, imported from Australia. They grew very twisted, a result of the Coriolis effect, and I never cared for them back then as my childhood was not very happy, I was not very happy, and they used to remind me of it. But I have grown to love them now, connected with the memories I have from living in Oz. I have none up here in the frozen north, just evergreens, and my tree inside is fake, there is a correlation there with how I feel about the holidays and living up here now. Something to ponder I guess.
I miss your country...

Ampersand Duck said...

During the Howard years I missed my country too... so glad it's back.

And glad the sea is back, not that it went away.

Regulus said...

God, those beach / ocean pictures in the last two entries are beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I love Reluctant BLogger's idea about writing in the books!

And Jane Eyre...what a classic. Could live that life. Literally. Just have to get Employer to fall in love with me.... :)

ganching said...

A very fine tree. I loved the one Christmas I spent in Australia - so much less frantic than Christmas here.

Isabelle said...

The tree does make me feel sad too when it dies but then the council comes and collects it and makes it into compost so the cycle starts again.

I think you should be a bit careful with that sea, dear Fifi. The gurly version looked very unfriendly to me.

little red hen said...

Hmmm... you've got me thinking about some of those classics I've read in the past now. Yes we were different people now and our experiences would colour how we read them. I'm almost afraid to go back to them again as I read them with the romantic ideals of a optomistic girl now they would be tainted with the dark cynicism of a dissapointed old woman!!!!
Must be the season for non traditional xmas trees- I have an albany wooly bush growing in a pot.

handmaiden said...

Wow! I have ornaments that look just like that!

What is weird is that I put those exact designs on blue ornaments....da da Star trek

concerned citizen said...

handmaiden sez,
This is my other blog. Local boring stuff...
In case I haven't said, I am NOT having a secret party at my handmaiden blog with only invited friends. I had to disable the blog & hide it from certain prying eyes. I'm not posting or anything over there. I know that "you are not invited" thing looks rude. It's the only way I could figure out how to disable the blog with out deleting it

Isabelle said...

Oh Fifi, I did enjoy your Christmas light pictures! I do think our janitor has claim to the most tasteless lights, though. His are so much more random than any of yours! But your Sydney ones are pretty impressive too!