Weird Fiction

If every weekend was as beautiful as this past one, my cup would be constantly running over with sweetness. Saturday morning we got up early to go to a garden sale in PoCo. I got a tomato plant and some herbs I didn’t have yet. Mostly, however, the garden is complete. I have turnips, leaf lettuce, pole beans, cauliflower, tomatoes, pumpkin, wildflowers, lilies, heather, honeysuckle, onions, green peppers, and poblano peppers–along with lots of herbs. I also bought a rare Ojochin cherry tree cloned at work in the biotech lab. I will need to thin some plants in a couple weeks that are really taking off, and everything is in pots. I don’t really like digging in the rocky yard or bringing in top soil, but do have some cedar planters that are pretty nice.

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Yard with pots (if you can see them in the shade)
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Cedar planters with turnips, leaf lettuce, and wildflowers (tiny sprouts)
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Early morning light near the pole beans
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Ojochin cherry tree

The weekend was just so beautiful–yard work on Saturday, and slightly over a 5K run in Mundy Park yesterday. It feels like summer…in the high 20s (that’s mid-80s) and not a cloud in the sky lately. I wonder if we will have another hot drought this year. The Mundy Park run was very warm. I didn’t go until almost noon, but the big trees making running more comfortable. It makes me feel good to see so much green around. This area, unless there is a drought, is the greenest place I’ve ever seen.

We went to a matinee yesterday to see a movie I wasn’t particularly interested in, and since our friend Sam was there to keep my husband company, I begged off, returning home to continue to enjoy the perfect day. I’ve been getting lots of hammock reading done and finished Michael Bernanos’s The Other Side of the Mountain. The genre is weird fiction–I learned of the book from author Jeff VanderMeer whose Southern Reach trilogy I’m enjoying. He and his wife Ann edited an anthology called Weird, which included The Other Side of the Mountain. I think when weird fiction takes on ecological themes I’m really hooked by it. Bernanos’s novella was published in 1963, and it was eventually translated from French to English. It starts normally enough, with a hungover 18-year-old guy agreeing to join a ship crew. A storm and lack of food and water results in some pretty horrible conditions, including cannibalism and death among the other crewmates. The teen becomes friends with the cook, also a long-time sailor, and they survive only to reach a different realm of some kind. The stars are different, and the land they reach is red and hellish. They think that reaching the big mountain in the middle, and seeing what’s on the other side, is their only salvation. Yet, pure horror happens on their trek, including carnal plants, bowing trees, a river that opens up to sink you, small villages and other areas where things have “vitrified” (I wonder if petrified is the better description), and so on. The basic of the story seems to be a poetic telling of nature in the very raw, where horror in our definition happens all the time. Seen through the lens of earth people, the new land defies much logic but simply has different species and laws of physics. It was just a really interesting novella that makes me want to read more weird fiction. I will write more on that at dragonfly.eco later this month.

Truth is that there is no salvation for any of us. Still, the novel was not gloomy insofar as the friendship between the cook and the teenager, and how courage and loyalty led them together up the mountain, even if their fate was not life.

It is my year for reading weird fiction, evidently. It seems to fit the mood lately of great weather, lounging in the yard listening to early morning doves or running in the rainforest wondering if any bears are around and awing in the other wildlife noises, the way the light hits everything, and the insects alighting on ferns.

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Mundy Lake during weekend trailrun
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A glass of wine and THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN