To purchase a copy

Title: High Up in the Rolling Hills
Author: Peter Finch

Category: Biography, memoir, manifesto, sustainable living
Format: Trade paperback, hardcover, ebook
Publication Date: April, 2013
Pages: 204
Recommended Price: $17.95 softcover, $27.95 hardcover, $9.95 pdf
Trim: 8.5 x 5.5 inches
Available from: iUniverse; Amazon in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, Brazil; Barnes & Noble; Borders; Chapters Indigo in Canada
First Print Run: On demand (with iUniverse on-demand capabilities, there is never an out-of-stock situation)

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Forever Young

(Note to self on turning sixty, courtesy of Bob Dylan, with whom I share a birthday; Happy Birthday, Bob)

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung

May you stay forever young

Friday, 18 March 2016

Carpe diem

At this very instant (as I write), it is 10.07 am on February 29, a day that only comes around every four years. I find myself on a rooftop terrace in Patzcuaro, Mexico, part of a place we have been fortunate enough to call home for the last month. Tomorrow we head back to Mexico City, thence via Toronto to our permanent home in the Northumberland Hills of OntarioI am determined to hang on to this fleeting moment in time, to sip and savour it like a fine brandy, another treat in this adventure that is life. 

At this very instant, dogs are barking, cars and trucks are rumbling along the cobblestone street below, cocks are still crowing, a megaphone is trumpeting gas delivery, birds are twittering in the trees, voices in animated conversation from passers-by rise and fade, the dance studio is blaring out Arabic rhythms. The sky above my head is cloudless, the sun is bright and burns my northern skin. The town is humming with activity and street markets are in full tilt. The distant lake and girdle of gentle mountains are hazy and soft. I have slept soundly, breakfasted well. My time here has been liberally sprinkled with happy moments; it will linger long in the memory. A Patzcuaro portfolio derived from snapshots of many moments will stock my bank of souvenirs.

At this very instant, many millions of people are occupied doing many millions of things in millions of places around the world, all special and particular and meaningful to each person. Repetition and drudgery, hardship and boredom, pain and brutality may be involved, making the joyful, exuberant moments all the more special when they come around. I wish everybody instants in the sun like this one for me when the fresh, pure air cleanses and wipes away layers of emotional and physical grime and opens up new vistas. Tomorrow, new instants beckon as the reality of routine confronts us. It will be raining or snowing, or overcast. 

Seize the moment. Carpe diem.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Magic hour, Patzcuaro

(Written ten years ago during our first visit to Patzcuaro, one which Gundi called our best holiday ever. Ten years later, we are just returned from our second visit - a full month this time - probably an even more rewarding stay! This pueblo magico has lost none of its charm and has barely changed in the intervening decade. How many places around the world can make this claim?)

 A magical hour in a magical place. Early Sunday evening, in the Plaza Vasco de Quiroga, Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico, the Americas.

The lights along the six portales of the palisaded rectangle are all of a diffused yellow, as if a thousand candles have just been lit. The six centuries-old leafy ash trees are fluttering in the light breeze, the birds are all atwitter in the high branches, and dark is newly descended. The central circular pool in the park, guarded by Don Vasco, is placid and mirrors the lighted scene above, while coy young lovers tangle, forming a ring around its rim. Whole families are out de paseo, dressed in their Sunday best, reveling in the fresh early Spring air. Toy ponies transport wide-eyed toddlers in a lap of the pathways; exuberant little girls with flowing black hair, red and pink dresses, long white socks, and shiny black shoes skip, scooter and bicycle by, and a tiny year and a half-old boy hoots with delight as he plays peek-a-boo around the massive girth of a limed-white tree trunk. His mother happily passes him over to a complete stranger so that she can share in the joy and wonder of being that innocent age. Cars trundle in slow-motion over the cobble-stoned streets, some emanating a deep boom-box bass beat. The atmosphere is gentle, sweet, beguiling as natives and visitors mingle, embracing the warmth of sharing this time together, at leisure and in peace.

Restaurants serve food, bars purvey drinks, artists show their landscape paintings, artisans display their crafts, vendors peddle clothing and toys, ice creams and pastries. Most is locally produced. In the adjacent mercado, they are just shutting up shop for the day. The array of colorful fresh produce is staggering – papayas, mangoes, guayabas, pineapples, melons, bananas, coconuts, strawberries, blackberries, apples, oranges, limes, lemons, tomatoes, avocadoes, potatoes, onions, herbs of all kinds, cauliflowers, cabbages, beans, corn, beets, carrots, meats, fish, you name it…. At the food stands, mamas and papas and their niños huddle around hot pots of steaming stews; tortillas are warmed as a base for sauces and fillings. Smells and sounds pepper the air, and colour suffuses the scene.

We enter a patio courtyard sanctuary decked with bright table-cloths and take a seat to survey the panoramic mural of the Mansion de los Sueños, the mansion of dreams. The mural is a delightful tableau of local campesinos and townfolk, out wandering and picnicking midst the mountain- and lake-scape that snuggles up to the town. Glowing belles are serenaded by elegant troubadours as fresh fruit laps at their feet. Isla Janitzio glistens as the jewel in the crown of the lake. We drink tequila with limon and savour fresh trout, soaking up the music and the starlit night air.