Monday, September 14, 2009

hibiscus, reading, balls


Posted by PicasaOur hibiscus has done well this year perhaps because its neighbour, an abutilon, gave up the ghost in the Spring. This bloom is lit by the declining sun and no artifice is applied.
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Passing a window at two or three feet from the road, I catch sight of a hand, holding an open book It is in the full light of the window, while to its right, its owner is in comparative obscurity. Fleetingly, because I can not stop to stare, I note that on the open page of the book are lines of verse. Something about the way the book is held, respectfully from below, fingers maintaining it gently open, makes me think well of the reader and of what he is reading, whatever it may be.
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In Calverley Ground, the Royal Tunbridge Wells Croquet Club is next door to a court where the lads practice basket ball. The contrast in balls and dress is remarkable. In the club, elderly folk on the lawn, are all in white, white trousers, white dresses, white hats. The wooden balls are brightly coloured and make a sound like a muffled rifle shot when struck or when they strike one another. On the basket ball court, on the tarmac, the dress code is tee shirts with messages, and shorts or jeans. The hair of one boy stands up in a spike, of another, it is shaved as smooth as a billiard ball. The basket ball makes a popping noise as the boys bounce it prior to lobbing it into the basket. I think of Rabbit Angstrom when, in the last volume of John Updike's masterpiece, in a belated effort to return to a sport at which he once excelled, he over exerts himself, and keels over, an old man whom readers of the novels remember as a feckless youth.

2 comments:

Barrett Bonden said...

A ball figures in another part of that marvellous tetralogy - possibly "Rabbit is rich". In it Updike devotes a whole paragraph to a perfectly struck drive from the golf tee. I played golf for a decade or so and was always a duffer; even so I experienced tiny hints of that at-one-with-the-universe feeling when the driven ball soars upwards into a host of metaphors. Who other than Updike could turn the baseness of being a Toyota dealer into such noble metal?

Plutarch said...

I remember that description of a perfectly driven golf ball, and often quoted it as an example of the satisfaction that can be had from a well executed manoeuvre in almost any sport.