Book notes: Findings

Kathleen Jamie’s book Finding is a collection of essays about Scotland. Some notes:

Scotland from her descriptions sounds like a very cosy place with soft light. When she visits, the neolithic tomb site of Maes Howe, she wonders about the artists and workers who put in effort to build the burial chamber. She wonders about the rapid advance of technology when she meets a few researchers who are building a digital replica of Maes Howe with lasers.

On observing some birds from her window—ospreys and peregrine falcons—she longs for their carefree life free from familial responsibility.

She and her husband are a handy couple. Her husband built her a writing table from a washed up oak. She makes show pieces from birds’ skulls. I wonder living outside the city teaches you these skills or you can live outside if you have these skills.

The chapter about Salmon is my favorite. She describes the scene of adult salmon trying to jump a small waterfall to go back the place where they were born to lay eggs. The salmon jump 3 feet by beating the water using their strong tails. They have so much grit or “ho” as she calls it. After reading this I wanted to go spot some salmon in the wild in California. Later she finds out that the actually do not make it upstream. The are hatched on the cliff by researchers so that the adults do not make it back and interfere with the hatchlings under study. The salmon that survive are the ones that give up the quickest. The ones with the least “ho”.

Not the survival of the fittest but the survival of the ones who give it up as a bad job and settle someplace quite. A small life in the suburbs. Salmon wisdom.

Her identity is strongly associated with Fife, I am jealous about not having that sense of association with a place.

In one essay she takes a telescope and sees the tops of buildings in Edinburgh. This is a neat idea and I want to do that too. I do not use my binoculars enough.

In the essay Sabbbath, she talks about her guilt of putting her grandma at home. This is a very modern concern and one that I think about at least once a day.