While visiting my mom and aunt last week in lush and humid Red Hook, NY, I read The Third Angel: A Novel by Alice Hoffman on my aunt’s suggestion. I found myself caught up in the spell of the story, staying up late, reading until 2 am or so. Nature, birds, love, betrayal, redemption, forgiveness, ghosts – all the big themes of life are rolled up into three time periods. The book seemed to mirror the landscape I was in, the story as rich and intoxicating as my green surroundings and moist air. Nothing stark, layer upon layer of dark humus.
Besides great storytelling, I love how the book illustrates the practicality of compassion. The smallest kind gestures have profound effects on the characters.
I finished reading the book on my last day. I hadn’t seen my mom in 2 years. I love my mother, though our lives have not been perfect. It could be easy to fall into old behavior patterns, but I have made a choice to be responsible for my life. My mother and I went to a lake and spread out a blanket on the grass near the beach. We didn’t need to talk. I finished the book. We swam and had a paddle boat ride to one quiet edge of the lake. I imagined how incredibly colorful it will be by late September – all the greens turning to reds, golds, rusts. I thought about visiting again. I thought about visiting my boyfriend, too, who will be living in Northern Wisconsin this fall and winter for his job. There are many lakes there. I thought about being in Flagstaff for another winter. I thought about yoga and teaching and love and my niece and nephew and my sisters. I thought about my the puppy my mother and aunt are getting this week. I thought about the light reflecting from the lake and the possibility of sunburn on my scalp where my hair was parted.