My weekly exercise in gratitude, or as some of my blogging friends put it, three things that made me smile this week.
As this blog surely indicates, I love the natural world for its beauty as well as its struggles. Because I live in the hinterlands, my posts often reflect this. But I also love art—books, movies, music, theater, and paintings, and today’s Three Things Thursday will illustrate how this love illuminated my life, the way it so often does.
First, Myrtle the Purple Turtle a delightful new children’s picture book—released just a few days ago—by my blogging friend Cynthia Reyes. Myrtle the Purple Turtle is a gentle book that address a serious subject—not looking like most everyone around you. Race certainly comes to mind, but you could also add ethnicity, disability, or any number of things that make people feel different. In the time-honored tradition of many children’s books, Cynthia Reyes uses animals to explore this especially relevant subject. In short, Myrtle is not like most other turtles. Instead of being green, she is purple. After being bullied because of the way she looks, Myrtle takes steps to change her color, and the results aren’t exactly what she had expected. I don’t think I’m giving too much away by telling readers that the book ends on a hopeful note. Jo Robinson’s illustrations are charming but vibrant, giving warmth and personality to this lovely purple turtle.
Second, the singer George Ezra and his song “Don’t Matter Now.” All during the summer, after the work of the day, my husband and I would go to the patio, have a drink, and listen to music. It was our response to all the horrendous news and decisions coming from Washington, DC. Ezra’s song somehow exactly fit our mood.
Sometimes you need to be alone
It don’t matter now
Shut the door, unplug the phone.
One day, I was wondering what George Ezra looked like. The radio doesn’t give you any idea, and none of the DJs really discussed him. Ezra has a big, deep bluesy voice, and in my mind’s eye he was African American, maybe from the South, maybe from Detroit, in his mid-thirties, and ruggedly built. You can imagine my surprise then when I Googled Ezra and discovered he was a skinny white boy from England. (I hope my British blogging friends aren’t laughing too hard.)
What I especially love about this is how George Ezra’s voice upended my expectations about the way he looked. And having expectations upended shakes up the mind, which is often a very good thing.
Third, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Actually, this is a double gratitude that should be shared by Title Waves, the wonderful book group I belong to, hosted by the library and facilitated by the equally wonderful Shane Billings, the Adult Services Librarian. But I digress.
How to describe A Tale for the Time Being? In essence it’s a tale told in two parts. The journal of Nao, a teenager in Tokyo, is washed up on the shore of an island in the Pacific Northwest, where it is found by a woman named Ruth. The story rocks back and forth between the lonely, suicidal Nao and Ruth, who suffers from writer’s block. Throughout this quirky but often harrowing story, Ozeki explores Buddhism—Nao’s great-grandmother is a Buddhist nun and a fabulous character. She also touches on bullying, family, honor, conscience, depression, right livelihood, and memory. Finally, Ozeki examines the nature of books and readers and how they relate to quantum mechanics.
Phew! That’s a lot for one book, but Ozeki pulls it off with grace and warmth, coming up with memorable characters along with some very zippy concepts.