More Summer Words

(Featured image courtesy Kate Marquez)

Sometimes the book plucked from the pile is just perfect…for the time, the season and the mood.

Tim Winton’s ‘The boy behind the curtain’ is a literary memoir but more than this, it is a example of nature writing and an exposition of Winton’s long held passion for preserving environments, both of the land and sea.

It seems to fit the time and seasons as I retreat from the heat and long for the sea again.

It can be dipped into and out of without requiring memorising a long list of characters or a complex plot. In this it reminded me of Helen Garner’s Everywhere I look, a collection of essays, diary entries and stories from her life.

As I reach the fourth story, ‘A Walk at Low Tide’, which fits my parameters perfectly, I am arrested by Winton’s language, imagery and vocabulary. Here is the first paragraph:

‘Just before dawn I take the narrow track from the house to the beach and walk the shoreline once more to see the familiar stretch and all its daily surprises. Past the high bund of coarse sand at the foot of the dune and the littoral field of gooseflesh the pebbles become on the long decline, the tidal flats are almost bare, ribbed and fluted from the sea’s retreat.’

I have to stop and discover the meaning of ‘bund’ and ‘littoral’ and follow the fragments, with a seemingly disconnected subject (and no semi colons) but I am caught by the power of the images, the ‘gooseflesh’ and the ‘fluted’ flats.

The piece is not just nature writing; it is a reflection on the power of ‘looking deeply, humbly, reverently’ below the surface, even at familiar things, to appreciate what lies beneath.

It is a great summer gift.