Summer musings

Summer has been swimming by, its cupped hands pulling days of light and languor, flowers and lazy buzzing behind it. Progress gorgeously indolent and easily numb to pain.

I thought I’d pop back in to share some links with you, bits of things that have held a quiet resonance with me on my daily walks, with words that return in conversations with friends over coffee and other drinks. I have already read these pieces several times now, so that I feel now like an animal bedding down into grass when I return, circling until I settle into something soft and familiar.


I've written a lot about home, the feeling of it and the physical place of it. The feeling of belonging somewhere you don't want to be day-in, day-out. Of loving something and seemingly rejecting it but still holding onto it. And how you must love it just as you must love yourself, even though you somethings hate yourself too. Mark's piece, which was written way back in May for the anniversary of Dubliners, captured so much of what I feel about my dirty old town.

"Dublin is a repurposed city, in the way of all postcolonial capitals. It is haunted by the fact that we are going about our business in streets and buildings that were originally constructed for the purposes of our dispossession. Much of the north inner city, where I live, is characterized by an air of discontinued grandeur, as of a place that has not been able to keep itself in the style to which it was once accustomed."


"The city that Joyce portrays in Dubliners has both receded into the distant past and remained insistently visible; Dublin, like all cities, is a sort of palimpsest, in which the past is always and everywhere legible beneath the surface of the present."


A little obsessively, of late, I've been looking at trees. Thinking about why we fall in love with trees, how we can't help but personify them. The Flanagan coat of arms is an oak tree and I've often started and quickly stopped attempts to make a family tree. It becomes arbitrary too quickly, faceless names that could belong to any Irish character in any book set in Ireland. My grandparents are real to me though they're dead, while living aunts and uncles are strangers. Trees aren't always easy to climb.

I loved reading this by Casey N. Cep on Pacific Standard.

"It is only a tree. A tall walnut. Eighty or 90 years old and 40 or 50 feet high. It is the only one of its kind on our farm, but one of many around the Eastern Shore. My grandfather used to eat the walnuts from its branches; my grandmother used to milk cows under the shade of its leaves. My father calls it the tree from hell."


"I wonder about my father’s family, the one that gave him away. I wonder about whether I am more likely to get cancer or heart disease or any of the other things that one inherits from one’s family. I wonder about my temperament and temper, and whether they might come from that unknown branch."


When little, I was once riding my bike up and down our cul-de-sac, which stopped at the top in a great circle. I went up one side, swooped the loop and came down the other side. Over and over, blissed-out at having the street all to myself. Then a neighbouring child came out and she saw how I was playing and joined in. I remember faking a happy-go-lucky spirit of the-more-the-merrier, but the fact was, I was bummed when she joined me.

Now, I often have to remind myself how happy I am alone. That the idea of necessary coupledom I sometimes feel bearing down on me is optional. That others may not understand why I am happy alone, that it might even grieve them. And that sometimes I myself don't understand it and feel I want something I patently don't want. And that this confusion isn't just mine, that I'm inundated with narratives, fictional and real world, that make me feel like my life is hollower than yours because you have another and I do not.

So, this, by Hannah Black for TNI, was very worth reading:

"[The couple] is the most reductive, exclusionary and precarious imaginable method of meeting the probably universal need to feel close to and recognized by others."


- A cure for love / the ethics of a chemical breakup.
" our understanding of the biological and neurochemical bases of lust, attraction, and attachment in human relationships continues to grow, so will our power to intervene in those systems—for better or for worse."
- Denise wrote a book!
- Therapy is not an emergency procedure
- "The extraordinary should not be allowed to become ordinary, no matter how good it is", and this thought-provoking piece too
Made me laugh


Last weekend, I met a friend for scones and coffee and we went to the farmers' market together. We parted then, each of us with a punnet of strawberries and I walked down residential streets that cut across the valley down to Casa Loma. I sat for a while in the gardens at Spadina House, chatting lightly with the gardener and admiring her foxgloves. In the sun, my strawberries were macerating in their own juices and my hands stained red as I ate them in the sun.

I walked out of the gardens and crossed the road to a townhouse that was for sale and I made a heartfelt wish to live there, to have days such as this one spanning seasons, with different angles of light, measuring the changes around a tree I would decide was mine.

I spent the afternoon imagining how I might decorate the house, where I would go for coffee and groceries, how I might use the rooftop patio to make cyanotypes for each season, leafy silhouettes swimming in aegean blue, and spend my nights gazing at waxing moons hanging in a cerulean sky. 

Summer musings are sweet. I hope your days are too.