Monday, October 13, 2008

Being Thankful

Vicki here, wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. No, I have not lost my way in the calendar: today is Canadian Thanksgiving. Some members of my family are here and I spent yesterday cooking the big feast. Turkey and all the trimmings and a choice of apple pie (made from scratch – even the crust) or brownies (also MFS) for dessert. I am not a religious person, but I do try to remember, and not just on a nationally-mandated holiday, that I have a lot to be thankful for.

When I was in South Africa recently I said to several people that my new house is very small, but I have three bedrooms and a den. My daughter, who lives and works in one of the poorest countries in the world, finally snapped at me, “Mom, if you have three bedrooms and a den you DO NOT have a SMALL house.” So true.

I am also thankful that we have a federal election tomorrow, which is the culmination of a campaign that has been running for all of six weeks.

At Charles’s suggestion I took several copies of my books with me for the purpose of handing out to people I thought might be interested. One place we stayed was in the area known as the Transkei, one of the poorest and most populated rural areas of South Africa. We were in a lovely lodge at the mouth of a river where it empties into the ocean. There was nothing, but nothing, around for a hundred kilometres but the lodge and the local village, which was so poor it doesn’t have electricity or running water. (As an aside, imagine how much I was looking forward to seeing the stars in an area without electricity. Imagine how disappointed I was by night after night of clouds). We went on our a tour of the village and surrounding area with a local guide. I put my sunglasses in his backpack and noticed he had two paperbacks in there, so I thought he’d perhaps enjoy a book. I realized that he’s likely to have absolutely no understanding of some of the cultural references in Constable Smith’s life, such as why she hates her name so much (Africans use very descriptive names), or why people in her town are up in arms over a Vietnam draft dodger memorial. But I gave him a copy of In the Shadow of the Glacier anyway. And was he ever thrilled. My daughter said it will probably become one of his most cherished possessions, displayed in pride of place, and brought out to show visitors. So somewhere in Africa, in a mud hut painted a cheerful turquoise, while goats nibble at the grass, someone is reading a book that I have written.

For the opportunity to write, to write the sort of books I want to write, to be published, and to be able to travel and meet wonderful people, I am grateful.

I was interviewed about my writing rituals at Suite101. If you’re interested, have a look:

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