24 March 2010

Excerpt from The Summer Book, Tove Jansson.

The family had long realized, without ever discussing it, that Eriksson didn't especially like fishing and hunting and motorboats. What he did like was harder to put your finger on, but perfectly understandable. His attention and his sudden wishes raced here and there across the water like ocean breezes, and he lived in a perpetual state of quiet excitement. The sea is always subject to unusual events; things drift in or run aground or shift in the night when the wind changes, and keeping track of all this takes experience, imagination, and unflagging watchfulness. It takes a good nose, to put it simply. The big events always take place far out in the skerries, and time is often of the essence. Only small things happen in among the islands, but these, too---the odd jobs that arise from the summer people---have to be dealt with. One of them wants a ship's mast mounted on his roof, and another one needs a rock weighing half a ton, and it has to be round. A person can find anything if he takes the time, that is, if he can afford to look. And while he's looking, he's free, and he finds things he never expected. Sometimes people are very predictable: they want a kitten in June, for example, and come the first of September they want someone to drown their cat. So someone does. But other times, people have dreams and want things they can keep.

Erikkson was the man who fulfilled these dreams. No one knew exactly what he found for himself along the way---probably a lot less than people thought. But he went on doing it anyway, perhaps for the sake of the search.

from The Summer Book, Tove Jansson,

Translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal.