I first read Our Arcadia, by Robin Lippincott, several years ago and it has always stuck with me. A Virginia Woolf aficionado, Mr. Lippincott’s first book was the lovely Mr. Dalloway, which — as its title suggests — imagines the life of Mr. after the passing of the more well-known Mrs. While I enjoyed Mr. Dalloway, Our Arcadia found a way into my soul, and every so often I pick it up to read again.
In Our Arcadia, Lippincott looks at the lives of 6 people sharing a house on Cape Cod in 1928. The central characters, Lark Marin and Nora Hartley, are seeking the answer to the question “How to Live?”, which is perhaps why it resonates so deeply with me. I’ve often found myself searching for “home” and for “community”, and the longing of the characters feels entirely real to me, following each as they look for their own individual answer to the larger question.
As the book cover suggests, there is something about Our Arcadia which reminds me of a watercolor. While there are some dramatic moments, the story is not told luridly, but by imparting key moments and details, often in muted hues, which ultimately come together to form the larger picture.
If you’re looking for a light and frothy read, this would not be the novel for you, but if you’re interested in something poetic and nuanced, Our Arcadia has much to offer. I highly recommend it.
Every once in a while I find things online that really move me, such as this. While searching for lyrics to a Mary Chapin Carpenter song, I stumbled on a website that a man made in tribute to his deceased wife. I thought his story, along with the poem he discovered, were well worth sharing with my dear friends. But he tells it better than I…
I was loved once, by an angel.
This is my tribute page to my late wife Beth since she isn’t here to make her own. I hope she would approve. As you can see she was beautiful on the outside. She was beautiful on the inside too. And brilliant. So brilliant it could scare you but she never ever made anyone feel “small” in any way (except if they really deserved it).
I watched an Ally McBeal (repeat) recently. The episode where the older famous (now deemed incompetent) artist paints only his dead wife. If I could paint (like my brother), I would paint Beth over and over again too.
For all of you out there, maybe alone, and wondering if you’ll ever meet your special someone, Beth and I lived in different states (me in upstate NY and she in NC) and “met” through a personals ad in the Mensa magazine. So you see, it can and does happen.
Beth died suddenly of a heart attack at the very young age of 44.
She wasn’t one to keep things (sayings) on her wall but she had clipped this one and had it hanging in her office. I asked that it be read at her service and include it here in case you may find it relevant to your own life and whatever time is left you.
You never know, do you.
* * * * *
“If I Had My Life To Live Over”
by Nadine Stair, age 85
I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax. I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.
I would take more trips.
I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I’ve had my moments and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments.
One after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.
I’ve been one of those people who never go anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute.
If I had it to do again, I would travel lighter next time.
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the Spring and stay that way later in the Fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.
More of his tribute can be found here.