St Prex and Founex in the Snow, Istanbul Noir, and the History of Middle-earth

One of the earliest things we noticed on arriving in Switzerland was the views of the Swiss, or of expats who'd lived here for much longer than us, on the weather. Every change was heralded by the words "it's not normal". Thus, a long sunny summer was "not normal". The interruption of the sunshine by two or three weeks of rain and cold (as happened last July) was "not normal". Bitter wind in December was "not normal". A lovely mild spring early in March (as when we first arrived in 2014) was... you guessed it... "not normal".

What is normal weather for this part of Switzerland, I wonder? This winter seems to have gone on longer than last winter, though when I look back at temperature charts, it's relatively the same (though it might have been sunnier, but maybe that's looking back through rose-coloured glasses). And nothing could compare to the grimy slush and icy endlessness of a Montreal winter (where the only saving grace on a day of -40 is that, if you can stay home, the sunshine pouring in through your windows into your nice warm house is very heartening. I always feel guilty about this, not just in thinking of those without homes, but also in wondering whether my rejection of the cold and the long-lasting winter betrays the native population, including the Inuit, who may have participated more fully in all the changing seasons of the land. But then, -40 in the deep silence of the woods does not feel half so miserable as -40 on a dark morning, surrounded by the wind tunnel-forming concrete hulks of a city street).

All that to say I'm sharing more snowy photos today! The first batch is of a walk in the medieval village of St Prex, a couple of months ago:









Approximately 1,000-year-old church

View from the hill of the church
 





And here's our village under snow (down by the lake, it's snowed a handful of times since November, but it never stays on the ground for longer than half a day. It's fun to look up and see the snow-covered tops of the hills and mountains, and to not have to live with the inevitable brown slush and grey polluted snowbanks that follow snowfall in a city):




Then there's ROW80. I went through my box of Writing To Do and pulled out the notebooks for NaNo2014 (this story needs a title!) but in the process discovered -- a la Christopher Tolkien finding bits and pieces of his father's papers -- more parts of Larksong that I haven't typed up yet. I've got to get into a regular habit of spending at least 15 minutes, if not 30, every morning typing up these handwritten drafts.

The second part of my update is long, and detailed partly for record-keeping purposes (I love this blog as a record of books read!); feel free to skip it!

Speaking of Christopher Tolkien, and my other ROW80 goal of reading all the unread books in the house, I've just completed a project started in 2012 -- rereading all 12 of the books in the History of Middle-earth series. I first read them all over 14-20 years ago (dated, in Christopher Tolkien fashion, by various slips and receipts used as bookmarks or to take notes on that I left in between the pages during my first reading. From these, and from the way I left everything but a schoolbag behind at my parents' house when I moved to Turkey for a year in 2002-2003, it seems clear that I read the twelfth book in the winter of 2002, exactly 14 years ago. I'm not sure when I first read the first book, the Book of Lost Tales I; it could have been any time between 1995 and 1999. When I was young, I was intimidated by the books, because all 12 were never displayed at once in order in any bookstore. Sometimes there'd be only one, sometimes a handful, and it was never clear what they were. Gradually, with the advent of the Internet, and with flipping through some of the copies, I figured out what they were and what their proper order was, and started on them, but that could only have happened after I was 15 or so, when I first started travelling downtown to the bookstores by myself), and it's been fun to see my notes from then, to reread my favourite parts (The Lost Road and The Notion Club Papers and the draft Fourth Age stories), and to rediscover certain passages on language, stories, and the patterns of subcreation, not to mention the references here and there to other authors, including Neil Gaiman.

Now to turn to a reread of Tolkien's letters! Among other things...

One of the books I'm in the middle of is the intriguing Istanbul Noir, published by Akashic Books in their noir series of anthologies, launched in 2004, of which each story is set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the city of the book.



I discovered the Noir anthologies when Diana Gabaldon contributed a story to Phoenix Noir. I can't wait to see which authors are featured in Montreal Noir!

Then there's this fellow, who comes to visit me every morning:



Are you a fan of noir stories?

Do you have an animal that's not a pet that comes by regularly?
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