Friday, August 30, 2013

The Real Mary Poppins

A few days back, Reader Wil had a post about Mary Poppins -- the movie, not the book -- and I was reminded of how dearly I'd loved those books sixty or more years ago.  And as I've held on to all my childhood books, I seized the opportunity to revisit Cherry Tree Lane and the inimitable Mary Poppins.

The books are still wonderful to read.  So many old friends -- Mrs. Corry -- who hangs the stars in the night sky. . . Maia, one of the Pleiades who descends to London to do a bit of Christmas shopping, Nellie Rubina and Uncle Dodger who bring in the spring . . .

Some scenes verge on the mystical, such as the undersea visit where Mary Poppins and Jane and Michael visit the Terrapin -- the oldest and wisest thing in the world.
"I am the Terrapin. I dwell at the roots of the world. Under the cities, under the hills, under the very sea itself, I make my home. Up from my dark root, through the waters, the earth rose with its flowers and forests. The man and the mountain sprang from it. The great beasts, too, and the birds of the air. . . .
"I am older than all things that are. Silent and dark and wise am I, and quiet and very patient. Here in my cave all things have their beginning. And all things return to me in the end. I can wait. I can wait. . . ."

Or this passage from a trip to the zoo where, after closing time, Mary Poppins, Jane and Michael meet the Hamadryad snake, the Lord of the Jungle, and he reminds the children." We are all made of the same stuff, we of the Jungle, you of the City. The same substance composes us -- the tree overhead, the stone beneath us, the bird, the beast, the star-- we are all one, moving to the same end..."

Well, it's no "Chim-chiminey, chim cheroo" but the magic is still there for me. I don't remember what I made of passages like this back when I was six or seven. My grandfather or grandmother read the books to me and I was entranced, never scared. I think children do best when they’re occasionally presented with material that is beyond their grasp – it encourages them to think.
I went looking for information about the author, P. L. Travers, and found, among many interesting tidbits, that she was an admirer of the mystic Gurdjieff  -- whose teachings may well have influenced the ‘mystical’ passages.
The Disney version – which I saw once, long ago, is such a watered down, sweetened up version of the Mary Poppins of the books that I’m not surprised that P.L. Travers wept at the premiere. Her battles with Disney are chronicled in a terrific New Yorker article.
I don’t know how an adult, raised on the movie version, would like the astringent Mary Poppins of the books. Nor, indeed, how a child today would respond to the magic in the words. But I wish that everyone could have met the real Mary Poppins first.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Orchids in the Window

I really wanted to talk about Mary Poppins today but the server is being cranky and I can't get my Mary Poppins pics to load.

Fortunately I'd loaded these photos a few days ago when the stars were aligned correctly and I was holding my mouth just so.

This condition comes and goes -- it seems to be linked to  hazy weather, which we have today as I'm trying to load tomorrow's post.
Ah, well, Mary Poppins can wait.  If all goes well, I'll post tomorrow.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

From My World

 Abandoned building at bridge

Wild clematis aka Traveler's Joy or Maiden's Bower

Herb garden in need of grooming

Night-Blooming Cereus leaf . . .

Clover, the Jersey heifer

A morning glory vine reaches out . . .

Black-eyed Susans
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Do You Know About Pluots?

I didn't. But I bought some last week and was amazed at how very good they are.  Pluots are a cross between plums and apricots -- two parts plum to one part apricot -- and they are heavenly crisp and sweet. 

These were green when ripe with greenish yellow flesh -- online pictures show others that are red inside and out.

We ate them up quickly --out of hand or sliced atop salad greens with a bit of red onion, gorgonzola, and toasted almonds, dressed with a light vinaigrette. If I can find more, I'd like to try a plum tart.

I love the fresh fruit available in the summer -- we've had a steady supply of fresh peaches and blueberries with our yoghurt and granola in the mornings. And mangoes have been a welcome salad addition. All too soon though, this bounty will end... the last peaches I bought were disappointing -- probably in storage too long.

If only I could find some more pluots! I'm envisioning that tart -- a sweet, buttery pastry, meltingly delicious fruit, and heavy cream poured atop. . .

Actually, I could probably choke that down even made with ordinary red plums . . .

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sallie Kate's Story

A beautiful day and time to put another batch of chickens in the freezer. John and Justin and I were joined by in the massacree by two good friends --  both of whom inspired characters in the Elizabeth Goodweather books.
 Doctor Bob lent his name to Doc Adams in Signs in the Blood and Old Wounds  while Kathy's is the voice I hear when I write about Elizabeth's realtor friend Sallie Kate.

During the course of the day Justin mentioned that  he and Claui had killed several copperheads right around their house and Sallie Kate Kathy spoke up:

"I've never seen such a year for copperheads; I must have killed a half a dozen at least. Sometimes two in a day. All right around the house too -- if they're out in the pasture, I leave them alone. But a few days ago was a first. I was  working around one of the rock walls right near the house and I saw a copperhead poke his nose out from between the rocks.  Now I always keep my .22 pistol loaded with rat shot and right there on the patio table when I'm out working. But the minute he saw me looking at him , he scooted back in the wall to where I couldn't get a clear shot at him.

"I went on pulling weeds and working around, watching him out of the corner of my eye and he 'd come out a little but then if  he saw me looking his way, back in he'd go.

"So I went and got my riding lawn mower and started mowing back and forth, and the copperhead thinks, 'Well now she's mowing.' and he comes out a ways. I keep on mowing, back and forth and back and forth,and he comes out some more.

"I get a little closer to the wall and he's still out. So on the next pass, I don't even slow down. I just point that pistol at him, pow, pow, pow, pow, and that's the end of that snake.

"I reckon you could call it a drive by shooting." 

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Hurrying (I was transporting ice cream) home from the grocery last Thursday, as I rounded the curve leading down to the bridge I was startled by a strange sound. My first thought was that our lovely new car had taken some kind of fit but then I saw the helicopter, floating down to land in the middle of the bridge.

MAMA  (Mountain Area Medical Airlift) can be a life saver for folks out here.

I asked some of the bystanders what was up.  The first one I asked supposed that someone had gotten hurt in the river but pretty soon I was told that a woman living near the bridge has gotten burned badly. Evidently the ambulances came and took her to the center of the bridge to await the helicopter. 

I don't know any more -- not who she was nor what her condition is now. 

But it was another reminder of how quickly things can change and how fragile our lives are. 

 And how much we need others.

As MAMA lifted off, I hoped that if the poor woman were aware of anything in this awful time, that she felt some comfort from the care and concern that surrounded her, from the first responders to the EMTs and the Big Pine Volunteer Fire Department. 

When I find out anything more, I'll let you know.
Posted by Picasa