Wednesday, 31 October 2012


Although there's not much in the way of real Hallowe'en festivities here in the French countryside, in the nearby city of Ales this morning I noticed pumpkin&witch decorations in a few shop windows and in the big supermarket. Here, the real holiday is tomorrow, TOUSSAINT (All Saint's Day) when schools and businesses are closed, and people visit cemetaries to embellish the graves with flowers -- usually pots of chrysanthemums but cyclamens have become more popular in the last decade or so. Still, it is mainly mums, and so much associated are they with the act of honouring the dead that they are not acceptable as hostess flowers (bringing a bouquet when one is invited to dinner is more the custom than bringing a bottle of wine, for the latter implies that you don't have confidence in your host's cellar).

It's rainy and cold, and I hear that it's rainy and cold in Toronto today too, which makes the trooping around neighborhoods in costumes a bit dismal for all concerned, little kids and big kids and parents alike. And with the city still recovering from the impact of the last few days' storm weather, this may be a Hallowe'en to avoid and forget.

Until today we've had good weather here,and the vineyards are starting to colour up nicely. It's not exactly the Gatineau show of maple and beech and birch glowing ruby and gold, but it'll do, it'll do...
Imagine an entire vineyard shining in the sunlight....
Given the rainy weather today, I've spent a bit more time at my desk, and want to pass on some very interesting writerly blogs here that can provide enjoyment and information if you have the wish to investigate. One is by an American friend of mine in Michigan, Michael Steinberg, whose blog focuses on non-fiction writing (this is his specialty, both as writer and as teacher). Do have a look

Another one you shouldn't miss is a site devoted to science writing by a terrific Canadian writer, Kimberly Gerson...  A few years together we worked together in the Humber correspondence program, and I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for the way she embraces the natural world...Expand your horizons and check it out

And the last one here I've just begun exploring, it's called PICKLE ME THIS by a Toronto writer and teacher and critic whose name is Kerry Clare. I was sent it by my friend Susan Swan (whose new novel THE WESTERN LIGHT is a must-read, especially if you were a fan of her earlier novel THE WIVES OF BATH but even if not...), so that I would be aware that my collection THE ELIZABETH STORIES, nearly 30 years old, is still having a life. Ah, there's nothing so satisfying for a writer than to know that a book continues to be read.