Friday, July 10, 2009

Summertime memories

Working on my kids' novel Return of the Summer Fish, very loosely based on spending a number of years in Iraq as a child... combined with a reading I attended last week by Natalie Goldberg, promoting her new book Old Friend From Far Away, and I came up with the idea of brainstorming a list of memories, 10-12 a day all summer (every day felt like summer then - the unending heat, shorts and rubber flip flops, hours spent at the pool, reading in the cool living room after lunch with the fan creaking overhead, a large insect scuttling across the tiled bathroom floor, ice cubes clinking in glasses of iced coffee that the mothers held to their necks as they discussed dressmaking on the verandah...) to write about later, and consider as elements in the story.

Today my list:
  1. A mud-encrusted 45 record of Cathy's Clown found in a dry wadi
  2. The crunch of pomegranate seeds
  3. Warm goat's milk yoghurt in an enamel bowl
  4. The bray of a donkey on an abandoned building site (or maybe that was Cairo, years later)
  5. The muezzin's call at dawn
  6. Standing still while my mother pinned the straps of a new sundress across my sunburned shoulders
  7. Throwing up on that - or a similar - sundress as my mother pinned the straps across my sunburned shoulders
  8. My friends Bethani and Luli's barebottomed baby brother Ahmed getting tangled up in the rope used to tie him to a post of their mud hut
  9. Squatting beside the wheelchair-confined guard at the Coca Cola factory while my brother and he jabbered away at each other in Arabic
  10. The vendor in the suq throwing out a banner of fabric to display a bolt of Swiss cotton to my mother
  11. Black-blistered bread hot from the gasping maw of the clay oven in the suq
  12. Bare feet sweeping the cool floor under the breakfast table.

A typical suq scene

'Iraq Loved & Lost' - my essay in Maclean's magazine 2002 here.

1 comment:

Julie H. Ferguson said...

What a terrific idea! It is from these small memories and curious facts that ideas come for books. Like acorns growing into huge oaks...