02 February, 2009
Of snow and fine travel writing
One of thousands of 'gardens in the snow' pictures that will appear on blogs today. No one ever accused me of being original.
Watching cars struggling vainly to get going in the snow reminded me of an incident from Rebecca West's incredible Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. Her party was driving through rural Croatia at a time when cars were a rare sight (1930s). Everywhere they went, local people came to the roadside to see the tourists roaring by. However, at one point the car plunged into deep snow and became hopelessly stuck. The local peasants rushed out to help them move the stricken car, while expressing undisguised delight at seeing "the machine make a fool of itself". West recounts how they were quickly helped out of their fix and that the villagers returned to their homes "doubtless to cheer up a horse by telling it what had happened."
Has there ever been more intelligent, more insightful, more beautifully written travel writing (although it's much more than a travelogue) than West's?
(Aargh, I think it was mud, not snow. Anyway...)