I remember as a girl, my mother liked to give me books she thought were important. One year was my “Nobel year” and all the books she gave me had won Nobel prizes for literature. Some were not bad at all. Jean-Christophe by Romain Rolland (1915 winner) was incredibly long, but really interesting for a girl studying music because it is a fictionalized biography of Beethoven.
Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun which won him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920, was a rougher go. It was about trying to survive on a hardscrabble, cold and barren part of Norway. I sort of hated the book, but I can’t forget it, either. These were people who lived terrible lives. They were so miserable it was almost art in its own way.
This prompt is about growth and I wish I had pictures from that hardscrabble land in Norway. For all I know, it has since become a tourist mecca. It has been a long time since the book was written and the world has changed. We now vacation in places no one could live 100 years ago and we think it very precious to be in these places.
Not so different than all the years we went to Jackman, Maine for vacation. An incredibly beautiful part of the country where you can — these days — easily survive. But work? Assets? Unless you came there already wealthy, you won’t find wealth in those mountains.
On the positive side, you may find a kind of spiritual richness there unavailable in easier climates, in softer environments. And so these are pictures from Jackman, at the top of the mountains in northern Maine. It is as beautiful a place as I’ve ever been and probably one of the most difficult places to live. In that roughness is growth of your spirit.
The big picture window in our living room is the central focus of the house. Not only does it give all of us a lovely panoramic view of the road and the woods, but it is a matter a pure fascination for all three dogs. They spend hours watching the world through that window.
Muzzles propped on the back of the sofa, they watch for all the important stuff — other dogs invading their territory. Trucks delivering stuff. UPS guys or anyone walking plus any number of wild creatures passing by from bunnies and squirrels, to coyotes. The canines are ready to race down the stairs, out their door, and tell the world of their latest discovery.
I didn’t think this photograph would work. Between the irregularities of the glass and the dirt, I expected mostly blur. Surprisingly, it came out pretty well. This is Autumn so far — our one, red maple leaf.
It rained a bit too. I thought it would cool things down, but instead, it increased the steaminess to the point of making the air too humid to breathe, even for Garry who normally prefers warm weather. He came in from outside, said “It’s horrible out there!”
Even the dogs don’t want to go out.
So, from inside the air-conditioned house, this is the single red leaf on my maple tree.