Quotes from A Year in the World – Frances Mayes

“From a crack in the house, two yellow beaks open and the mother sparrow flits over our heads, to and fro from the grove. Her angry chirp warns us that she might dive-bomb our reclining forms. A visiting gray cat stretches on the warm stone terrace, purring at her reflection in the door. She ignores the sparrow. Under my pulled-down hat, I begin to think of old attachments, friends, those I have failed, those who failed me. The elemental nature of Greece, I suppose. Or sometimes travel just unlocks Pandora’s box. What I’ve put off considering in my quotidian life rushes forward when the body and mind achieve a quiet level of receptivity. What has been lost comes looking. Problems overly suppressed can erupt as a full-blown crisis. I start with the drifty thought, ‘Mother would love this,’ followed by the petulant, childish (but true) thought, ‘She failed me, no?’ Then an old friendship I bluntly broke off. My mind jumps to Bill D. ‘Oh, he let you down, big time,’ then the tidal rush of how he would have loved Greece, how funny he was, and what a good poet. Drunk, he lurches over the hors d’oeuvre table, I reach to catch him, but he crashes into the bowls and plates. Hardest to understand, the friends who recede, become vague, their names in the address book but their numbers forgotten. Friends from college stay fixed. I pick up with Anne and Rena immediately, out of such long connections. As an adult, I moved six times, and for the most part the intense friendships of each place gradually faded, replaced by the next set. And yet I still care about Ralph and Mitra and Gabby and Hunter and Alan and, and, and…”

“We like getting dressed for dinner as we slip out of a harbour every night. Our mood as we enter the dining room shifts to celebratory. We’re having great dates. I begin to remember that I was quite good at flirting. Ed becomes more romantic, swooping out of his jacket pocket a small blue-velvet box. Inside I find gold earrings with round sapphires–the very ones I’d coveted in a jewelry shop. And I thought he was off looking for stamps. They will remind me of the colour of the sea. After dinner we walk all around the deck. The stars are enough to break your heart, so intensely present, close enough to reach. They do not seem like the same stars that hang over the rest of the planet.”


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