A Book, A Movie, A Song

on Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thank you all for your wonderfully diverse but helpful comments and advice to the previous post. Like in that post, the squirrel remains in a pensive and philosophical mood and the wanderings of my mind led me to this discovery.

A number of times, I have come across bloggers who do a meme on the books that they have read. They would share about the latest books they have read, favorite author etc. and very often, which have been the books that have influenced their lives most.

I have always not participated cause, when it comes to books that have influenced my life, my brain usually draws a blank. One because I am not a prolific reader, two because I am not a serious reader (i.e. I do not like to read heavy intellectual tomes) and three, my reading list is a little embarrassing.

So, as I said, I was surprised to make a discovery of what may be the book that has been most influential in my life (apart from the bible) during my recent mental wanderings. The book is "Ring of Bright Water" by Gavin Maxwell.

Well, it is actually a series of books including "The Rocks Remain" and "Raven Seek Thy Brother". For those of you who are unfamiliar about Gavin Maxwell and his books, I have posted on it before. Follow this link. It is essentially an autobiography of a journalist, author and naturalist who purchases a small piece of land in a remote part of Scotland; his own personal bit of heaven which he named Camusfeàrna. The books also detail his relationship with a whole menagerie of otters; his first love, Mijbil; his long time companion, Edal; Teko who brought fresh hope; and the next generation including Mossy and Monday.

How has this book (or series of books) been influential in my life? Well, I first read "Ring of Bright Water" when I was about 13 or 14 years of age and I think it was the first book that taught me to love animals and especially animals in the wild. My current career in nature conservation some 3 decades later stems from this love that was first planted as a seed then. That makes it a major influence indeed.

The books were also a very brutally honest record of the difficulties, both personal and financial, that Maxwell faced in trying to make his little piece of heaven work. There were also the disasters and tragedies that struck. At that young age, this was my first time reading about a very human icon. He may be author and naturalist extraordinaire but he was far from faultless and far from knowing all the right answers. He made me appreciate that heroes are humans too and the real heroes are the ones that get up after being knocked down and start re-building again.

Maxwell could probably have continued his successful career or even entered into the diplomatic service but he gave it all up for a simpler life amongst his otters and outdoor pursuits in his tiny remote corner of Scotland. My dreams have been affected by his. Success is not as the world measures but by your own sense of happiness in doing what you love. I still seek a little piece of heaven on earth even now.

As I prepared for this post, I came across the old theme song for the movie based on the book. I had actually forgotten how wonderfully poignant and inspiring these words were to my younger self. They are wonderful. The song was sung by Val Doonican and here are the lyrics, followed by the song itself.

Where sun and wind play on a ring of bright water
That's where my heartland will be
The deer on the hill in the first snow of winter
the gull in the sky winging free

I wandered away from the dark crowded city,
Leaving my old life behind,
And came to a place where a ring of bright water,
Dazzled the care from my mind.
So I live with the wonder of the sky and the sea
And I'll always remember who revealed them to me

But now you are gone with your whirlpools of laughter
Racing me down to the sea
But I always smile when a ring of bright water
Echoes your laughter to me.

(key change)

But now you are gone with your whirlpools of laughter
Racing me down to the sea
But I always smile when a ring of bright water
Echoes your laughter to me.

Echoes your laughter to me



A wonderful post and viddeo, I particulary liked the song, very beautiful words. Thanks for sharing.


blackcrag said...

I have a similar influence. When I was young I read several of Farley Mowat's books, some of which are memoirs of his youth on the Canadian prairie and his beginnings as a naturalist.

As a youth I appreciated The Dog Who Wouldn't Be and Owls in the Family. As an adult I liked his account of his experience in WWII, told in And No Birds Sang. And I have always loved Never Cry Wolf.

geewits said...

You have certainly been in an introspective/life reflective mood of late. We all go through these phases at this age, and I hope your reflections are good ones. I think you turned out just fine.

Owen said...

Thanks for this... I wasn't familiar with either the book, the movie, or the song... will have to keep an eye out for them.

And while keeping an eye out for squirrels, this piece came to my attention this weekend...


Jo said...

I have just been catching up on my blogging, and I read your last post as well, and posted a comment on it.

One of the books that influenced me the most was "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson. My father handed it to me when I was a teenager and said, "Here, read this and don't ever forget it."

secret agent woman said...

This really took me back - I remember seeing this movie as a kid.

Calvin said...

Thanks. I like the song vry much too. Feels a little strange that I had forgotten about it and it almost feels like I have re-discovered it.

I do know of Farley Mowat and have seen him interviewed on TV but he was not someone whose books i would have been exposed to when I was growing up in Malaysia. But he is another inspirational person.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

What a really, really, really nice thing to say. Thank you. As for the introspection, I guess that's part of who i am.

Those are all rather old and be warned it is one of those stories that surprises you with joy and also surprises you with gloom. Thanks for yet another squirrel watch.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I think you must have had a wonderful childhood growing up so close to nature. Thanks for your comments on the last post too. I agree with what you said but unfortunately reality tends to make it far less black and white.

Secret agent woman,
Something your kids might appreciate?

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