Wednesday, June 1, 2022


This photograph, taken at the end of April on a hike around Nicolle Flats, represents my mental state at this time of year—dry, drained, a little deflated, and nothing to say or no energy to say it: scraps of paper holding scattered thoughts jotted down in haste with neither time nor resolve to collect them and press them into something permanent.

This time of year or this time of life. The years, in fact, run together. We have had drought in Saskatchewan. I planted grass last spring, but the rains never came and it died in the summer heat.

The last three years have been overfull, teaching short-staffed in the midst of the extra demands and challenges of a pandemic. The teaching itself—especially teaching Greek and Hebrew as living languages using a communicative approach—has been rewarding and at times exhilarating. But the combination has been draining, and compounds a sense of malaise and loss. What should I be doing with this too-short life?

Last winter we had snow, and we have had plenty of rain so far this spring. There are still massive bare patches in what I charitably call my lawn, but the grass is already greener than it ever was last year.

Jotting these thoughts down a couple weeks ago on a mountain getaway just beyond the Rockies I dared to hope for another kind of rain. Indeed, the mountains are rain, as is the prairie landscape.

So are books. I recently finished listening to the Audible recording of Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen's memoir of her years as a colonial farmer in Kenya, the land where I grew up. I hesitate to compare a classic to a recent best-seller, but—perhaps because I read them in sequence—Out of Africa reminds me of Daniel Nayeri's Everything Sad is Untrue, a novelized memoir of Nayeri's childhood first in Iran and then as a refugee in Oklahoma. Both writers take up the mantle of Scherherazade and both draw heavily on the Bible. Rainy books for rainy days.