my favourite book since the 6th grade

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My Family and other Animals by Gerald Durell, the first book in a trilogy, that was read out loud to the class by my 6th grade teacher Reginald Porter. He would sometimes laugh so hard that he'd cry and would get his hanky out to dry his eyes. I love this book and have reread it over and over again - it makes me feel safe and happy and comforted.

Gerald Durrell as a young boy moved to Corfu with his eccentric (to say the least) family. Already at that age, a budding young naturalist, he and his faithful companion (dog) Roger would travel around the island exploring.

One of my favourites passages begins Chapter 5. His description of beachcombing with his dog is so bang on and always makes me smile and think of my own beach hunts with my pack of three - Em, Jake & Winnie Dixon

One hot, dreamy afternoon, when everything except the shouting cicadas seemed to be asleep, Roger and I set out to see how far we could climb over the hills before dark. We made our way up through the olive groves, striped and dappled with white sunlight, where the air was hot and still and eventually we clambered above the trees and out on to a bare, rocky peak, where we sat for a rest. The island dozed below us, shimmering like a water-picture in the heat-haze: grey-green olives; black cypresses; multi-coloured rocks of the sea coast; and the sea smooth and opalescent, kingfisher-blue,jade-green, with here and there a pleat or two in it's sleek surface where it curved round a rocky, olive-tangled promontory. Directly below us was a small bay with a crescent-shaped rim of white sand, a bay so shallow, and with a floor of such dazzling sand that the water was a pale blue, almost white. I was sweaty after the ascent, and Roger sat with flopping tongue and froth flecked whiskers. We decided that we would not climb the hills after all;we would go for a bathe instead. So we hurried down the hillside until we reached the little bay, empty, silent, asleep under the brilliant shower of sunlight. We sat in the warm, shallow waters, drowsily, and I delved in the sand around me. Occasionally I found a smooth pebble, or a piece of bottle which had been rubbed and licked by the sea until it was like an astonishing jewel, green and translucent. These finds I handed to Roger, who sat watching me. He, not certain what I expected him to do but not wishing to offend me, took them delicately in his mouth. Then, when he thought I was not looking, he would drop them back into the water and sigh deeply.


  1. Well, this is a delightful addition to your own commentary! How touching to share one of your favourite passages from one of your favourite books read by a teacher whose name you can remember!!

    Thanks, S. keep on blogging!

  2. I had forgotten about Gerald Durrell! Thank you for reminding me. I just put a hold online for My Family and Other Animals with my local library.

  3. A friend in England sent me the link to your Blog. I enjoy finding other Nova Scotia blogs. Thought to understand it better, I should go back and browse through your earliest posts.

    Have you lived in Nova Scotia all your life ?

    I retired and moved to Eastern Passage exactly two years ago, from Ontario. I feel like I belong here. I love living near the ocean. I share my home with my 23 yo daughter, our combined pack of 4 dogs and 2 cats.

    You have a wonderful writing style -- though sometimes you use words I'm not familiar with. I'm sure in time, I'll learn to understand Susan-speak as if I'd been hearing it all my life.

    Time for me to move forward in time and explore more recent posts.



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