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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Monday, May 22, 2006

quiet rainy Victoria Day

It's Victoria Day here in Canada: a national holiday. Yes, we still celebrate a monarch who died in 1901, presumably because she was on the throne when Canada was confederated in 1867--but that's just a guess.

Heavy, gray, wet clouds had rolled in when I woke this morning, and a warm, damp wind was blowing. I came down to key notes from Wake Up to Your Life and Galilee from Alexander the Great to Hadrian. We discovered that Robin had contracted food poisoning at yesterday's bridal shower, and since early in the morning had been making trips to her bathroom. "But we ate the same things," said Kimmie. "Oh--except for the cake! And the cake had custard in it..."

Kim and I went walking along the seawall at Ambleside in West Van. The wind was strong and blustery there, and, I thought, smelled unfresh--a tropical-smelling air that seemed to be polluted with the scent of pulp-mill or something. I found this depressing: what if there were no more fresh air to be found on Earth? Even when a strong wind blows in from the sea, it is still just a mixture of industrial exhaust. I remembered an article I'd read, I think in The Economist, several years ago, about a scientist who had inventoried all the flotsam on the beach of a tiny remote island in the South Pacific, thousands of kilometers from New Zealand or somewhere. It was a depressing list of garbage: beer-cans, plastic bags, furniture, and a surprising and dispiriting number of disposable diapers. Might as well have been in an inner-city park.

But we walked by the gray shore as the waves combed in. Very few people were at Ambleside, mainly just the dog-walkers and a couple of large Asian families who had decided to have barbecues regardless. Kimmie, ever alert to bird life, had us pause to watch a gull and a crow try to steal each other's food on the rocky shore, and again to watch a crow bathe itself in a puddle in the parking lot (a surprisingly long and thorough wash), and again to watch a mother duck paddle from the little mouth of the Capilano River with her clutch of about seven ducklings tightly in tow, paddling furiously to form what looked like a snaking tail behind her, staying in formation as they rode diagonally through the swell.

All in all, a quiet day. I hope to start my reading period earlier than I have the past couple of days, so I can get more reading in. The stack of books teeters on the corner of the coffee-table. Thence do I go now.

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