Tag Archives: Fiona Robyn

Small Kindnesses #27 November 2012

First a confession! I haven’t read Fiona Robyn’s book “Small Kindnesses” yet! I am grateful to her, though, for inviting me to her blogsplash to write a blog post about small kindnesses.

When I look back I feel gratitude for many things towards many people, though their acts of kindness feel huge to me. Are we, perhaps, belittling an act of kindness by calling it small? On the other hand, wasn’t the offer of a lift a small kindness? Carrying a heavy shopping bag for someone? The present of a smile?

Trying to choose one such act to write about, I went through various options, letting my thoughts run this way and that, but they always led me to my childhood home and to my grandparents. Finally, I settled on the following:

My grandparents, originally refugees from Izmir (the earlier Smyrni), in Asia Minor, lived in one of the refugee quarters of Athens, in a house with an inner courtyard full of plants, fruit, and flowers. They never wasted an olive oil tin – they used these tins as pots for basil, hydrangeas, carnations, geraniums… Crammed in a small space, they had rooms for renting out, a stable with a couple of horses, and hens – all in what was then just outskirts of Athens, but is now very near its center. Though the set-up sounds idyllic, they had a hard time making ends meet, finding the resources to make a living in a city and country that had not been welcoming to the refugees from Asia Minor.

Small Kindnesses The eggs they had were produced by their hens, the grapes by their vines, the figs came from a huge fig tree. Everything they ate, drank, wore had to be looked after, grown or mended, cost them energy and all of the hours of their day. They wanted me to have a better life. Even though my granny couldn’t read, she wanted me to be able to read and write. She encouraged me and gave me the space to do my own thing – even when I went round the house pulling out her precious plants to ‘make’ my own garden, took the eggs for my dolls; or spent hours under the vines reading my books and daydreaming instead of helping out with the chores.

Was this kindness? It was love, for sure. Kindness too. She could have demanded my help in the household. Each single time she didn’t, each time she didn’t complain, but let me be, let me do my own thing without pressure, or guilt, she acted with kindness towards me. All these ‘small’ gestures, moments, day in, day out, amount to a huge act of kindness and generosity on her part.

An act of kindness doesn’t have to come from a stranger. We tend to forget the acts of kindness we receive and offer in our everyday lives and relationships, as if love allows us to take those we love for granted.

So there you have it. I spoke about my grandparents’ garden and their kind presence in my post about small kindnesses, the title of Fiona Robyn’s book, “Small Kindnesses,” which is also the background to my own book, “In the Garden of Absence.”  I hope Fiona will take kindly to this dual path. I know I will be reading her book “’Small Kindnesses‘ – a gentle mystery story with gardener Leonard, dog Pickles & a dash of Johnny Cash” over Christmas.

You can read it too! In fact, it is free to download from Kindle UK and US all day today. See Fiona’s blog with more information about it here

Small kindnesses Blogsplash on the 27th of November 2012

On Tuesday the 27th of November I’m joining the Small Kindnesses Blogsplash, writing and posting about small kindnesses.

In connection with the reissue of Fiona Robyn’s eponymous novel, writers and poets are teaming up to think about the “small kindnesses” of everyday life. Are you taking part? Join me, Fiona Robyn, and many, many others around the world on November 27th to share and celebrate the small kindnesses in our lives!

Fiona says, “All you have to do is write something about being kind – a memory of someone who was kind to you, a list of kindnesses over the past week, or something kind you did for someone else. It’ll be a celebration of kindness in all its forms, especially those little kind acts that make all the difference”

Interested? join the Facebook event here

More information here

My Most Beautiful Thing

Schmutter Marsh

In November last year, I moved to a place near the river Schmutter, in the Greater Augsburg area. Some of you may remember my posts, and pictures, on ‘Leaving Ammersee’ from last year. Given the spectacular Ammersee lake and those sunsets – those sunsets! – it was difficult to imagine then how I would take to my new surroundings. Indeed, it has taken time for me to settle – still many unpacked boxes in the cellar! – but at least I have started going out for walks in the vicinity.

Almost next door, there are the Schmutter meadows: a nature reserve marshland by the river Schmutter (a tributary to the Danube), which is flooded several times each year. The soil is enriched by the flooding, and meadows become home to numerous rare plants, birds, and other animals.

And here, in the local marshland, its grassy paths, sludgy mud, numerous water channels, sluices, and flooded pools, the river itself twisting and turning, I have found beauty, again! This is a beauty I can neither own nor grasp in one go, i.e., in one picture, in one season, or one year. It is a beauty that develops, changes; a fragile, weather-beaten, marshland eco-system that I can only experience piecemeal on my walks through it.

If you have the time, take a look at this picture and haiku, imagine walking by the Schmutter. I will be posting more pictures from this area and writing haiku responding to my walks in the future. Am I trying to make this area ‘mine?’ Perhaps I am! You can come along for the experience.

Better still, choose an area near your own home, observe it, write about or take pictures of it, and turn it into your ‘most beautiful thing.’

This post is written in response to Fiona Robyn’s call for writers to write (and blog) about what they consider to be their most beautiful thing: a ‘blogsplash’ . In the context of her launching her new novel ‘The Most beautiful Thing,’ Fiona is making the novel available for free on the 24th and 25th of April 2012. Visit her blog for details here