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 Worked this morning, had a nap, brewed up a coffee, and then sat down to return to Proust after a bit of a break. Polished off volume one of a voluminous two part Hitler biography, that era a real early interest of mine as a young man. 

 By the way, before I go on thanks for the Kombucha recipe. I’ll keep it. But that doesn’t look as easy as you first made it out to be! Won’t say I’ll be rushing out to cook my own at present, but who knows what the future may bring. Probably before I get to Kombucha I’ll be making wine or beer or both. Love the notion of living a simple life though, and have started in that direction more and more these days. For me it’s always been, though it took years to get to a place where I could genuinely pursue this simple form of life, about living a balanced integrated life rather than just reading it away.

 So along those lines I have several projects taking shape for the spring. One, on a quick side note which I thought of earlier today before your email arrived, was to get a bird feeder for a pole I’ve discovered beside the house. The other main one is for the beginnings of a garden in the yard. A few days ago I was chatting with Mel, who runs the local coffee shop in my little village. Her aging mother has come to live with her and it turns out the family ran a garden nursery for thirty years. They were expressing the wish that they had a greenhouse to play around with. Well, I told them, I just so happen to have a solarium attached to my house.

 So the deal is I’ll set up some tables inside and they can use one or two and the cost will be to teach me everything they’re doing. Also, I want to plant trees and a garden in that beautiful strip of yard, which isn’t really as big as it seems in the photo thanks to the magic of a wide angle lens but is still plenty for a great little garden. I hear certain hardy types of apple trees as well as even cherry trees can thrive in the area! Sometime down the road I even imagine a fire pit in the foreground to sit around at night beneath a heavy canopy of stars surrounded by garden. Maybe strum a guitar and sing a few Coombiyas. That would really draw the deer into my little oasis! Already I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find a couple in my yard nipping at the tiny shrubs. Maybe even one day I’ll attract a bear! I heard there was one hanging around the neighbourhood last autumn. 

 But alas, that’s a few months in the future. Here we remain in the grip of winter. Nothing’s growing, although the weather’s been wonderfully mild. 

 These are my latest favourite toys, cleats for hiking on the hard packed icy trails. They compliment nicely the snow shoes I bought a month ago but don’t get a whole lot of use out of lately because of the lack of snow. Been slowly working myself back into decent shape, which I haven’t been in for probably thirty years! Too much reading and driving and living in cities which didn’t provide enough incentive to get out there and move. However, nowadays when the weather permits I find it hard not to be outside for at least a couple of hours a day. 

 So that’s really it. Sure, the reading is priceless, and invaluable if one truly wants to add something, say the least little thing, to the heritage of humankind. And isn’t that what we should be aiming for, whether we achieve it or not? However, it’s the living which counts, which genuinely matters! Which is also a reason why I may be slowing down with the posts and certainly have put the whole video thing on hiatus. 

 A sort of reentry into this life of our’s, after departing it in my early twenties to go in search of what might be called the eternal truths. But this time entirely on my own terms! Not giving a damn about what others think, mostly because most people, or very close to all, are confused and out to lunch when it comes to a simple, beautiful, and magically integrated way of life society has largely left behind.

Yet, having said that, I fully recognize how many are making the attempt to do so this very moment. Bless them, and you, in your efforts. It’s not exactly easy, but what rewards lie ahead, though indeed are experienced at every single moment too! 

 So, having returned after a few weeks to Proust, I’ll end this with a few short thoughts on it. Firstly, I’m loving it. And being such a devotee of history Proust is such a rich read because his great work resides at the very heart of the Paris and France of his day. So many of the characters are drawn from the people who dominated the events of those epochal decades. Heard of the great French tragedian Sarah Bernhardt? Berma is modelled upon her! And then the narrator’s favourite author Bergotte is based on Anatole France. It goes on and on. The painter Elstir who appears later is Monet I believe, or perhaps Renoir. And Swann himself is sort of a composite with one of the Rothschild heirs at the core. And the whole rise of Odette, practically a motherless street girl who climbs French society’s highly exclusive ranks through beauty and artful craftiness to the very pinnacle. And finally, the flow of life, from Odette, through her daughter Gilberte who will marry into the noblest family of the fading aristocracy, to her daughter who the narrator meets towards the end of the tale. Such wonderful stuff! Like Joyce, to weave a deeper narrative encompassing Time and the Flow of Life into the very fabric of the events and currents of their day!

 Ok, that’s it. After receiving your last email I sat down to read a few pages of Proust but couldn’t because it had started the whole association train rolling down the tracks. When that’s the case the only way to see the train entirely out of the station and on its way is to write it out. 

 There it goes! 

 All the best,  Jeff