Among Flowers

Among Flowers

A Walk in the Himalaya

Book - 2005
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Random House, Inc.
In this delightful hybrid of a book?part memoir and part travel journal?the bestselling author takes us deep into the mountains of Nepal with a trio of botanist friends in search of native Himalayan plants that will grow in her Vermont garden. Alighting from a plane in the dramatic Annapurna Valley, the ominous signs of Nepal's Maoist guerrillas are all around?an alarming presence that accompanies the travelers throughout their trek. Undaunted, the group sets off into the mountains with Sherpas and bearers, entering an exotic world of spectacular landscapes, vertiginous slopes, isolated villages, herds of yaks, and giant rhododendron, thirty feet tall. The landscape and flora and so much else of what Kincaid finds in the Himalaya?including fruit bats, colorful Buddhist prayer flags, and the hated leeches that plague much of the trip?are new to her, and she approaches it all with an acute sense of wonder and a deft eye for detail. In beautiful, introspective prose, Kincaid intertwines the harrowing Maoist encounters with exciting botanical discoveries, fascinating daily details, and lyrical musings on gardens, nature, home, and family.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Baker & Taylor
A combination memoir and travel journal details an adventure through the mountains of Nepal in search of native flowers and plants that could grow in Vermont, encountering guerrillas, Sherpas, yaks, and spectacular landscapes on the way.

Blackwell North Amer
Anyone familiar with Jamaica Kincaid's work knows that the natural world and, in particular, plants and gardening are especially close to her heart. Along with such acclaimed novels as Annie John and Lucy, she's also the author of My Garden (Book), a collection of essays. Now, in this travel memoir, she invites us to accompany her on a seed-gathering trek in the Himalayas.
For Kincaid and three botanist friends, Nepal is a paradise, a place where a single day's hike can traverse climate zones from subtropical to alpine, encompassing flora suitable for growing in their home grounds from Wales to Vermont. And as she makes clear, there is far more to this foreign world than rhododendrons that grow thirty feet high. Danger too is a constant companion - and the leeches are the least of the worries.
For along with the narrow paths that skirt vertiginous drops, these mountains are haunted by Maoist guerillas, and when they appear - as they do more than once - their enigmatic menace lingers long after they have melted away into the landscape. And Kincaid explores the irony of her status as memsahib with Sherpas and bearers - and understands that the liberating, exotic pleasures of travel are inextricably intertwined with the everyday pleasures of home and family.

Simon and Schuster
"This account of a walk I took while gathering the seeds of flowering plants in the foothills of the Himalayas has its origins in my love of the garden¨my love of feeling isolated, of imagining myself all alone in the world and everything unfamiliar, or the familiar being strange, my love of being afraid but at the same time not letting my fear stand in the way." So begins Jamaica Kincaid's adventure into the mountains of Nepal with a small group of botanists. After laborious training and preparation, the group leaves Kathmandu by small plane, into the Annapurna Valley to begin their trek. ("From inside the plane it always seemed to me as if we were about to collide with these sharp green peaks, I especially thought this would be true when I saw one of the pilots reading the newspaper, but Dan said that at the other times he'd flown in this part of the world the pilots always read the newspaper and it did not seem to affect the flight in a bad way.") The temperature was 96 degrees F. on arrival, and the little airport in Tumlingtar was awash in Maoists in camouflage fatigues. "What I was about to do, what I had in mind to do, what I planned for over a year to do, was still a mystery to me. I was on the edge of it though." The group sets off with a large retinue of sherpas and bearers, and Kincaid, in simple, richly detailed prose describes the landscape, the Nepalese villages, the passing trekkers and yak herds. Direct and opinionated ("We decided to call them [other trekkers] the Germans because we didn't like them from the look of them¨and Germans seem to be the one group of people left that cannot be liked because you feel like it."), Kincaid moves easily between closely observed, down-to-earth descriptions of the trek and larger musings, about gardens, nature, seed gathering, home, and family. Negotiations with the Maoists to pass through villages interject dramatic notes ("Dan and I became Canadians. Until then I would never have dreamt of calling myself anything other than American. But the Maoists had told Sunam [head sherpa] that President Powell had just been to Kathmandu and denounced them as terrorists and that had made them very angry with President Powell."). The group presses on, determined in its search for "beautiful plants native to the Himalayas but will grow happily in Vermont or somewhere like that." Eventually they reach a spectacular pass at 15,600 feet and start back. Down at the village of Donge they have another run-in with the Maoists. They "lectured us all through the afternoon into the setting sun, mentioning again the indignity of being called mere terrorists by President Powell of the United States." To lessen the tension, the sherpas produces some Chang, an alcohol made from millet, intoxicating everyone, Kincaid included. At the airport, the Maoists are threatening attack, but the group must wait three days for an airplane. Finally they get off safely. "Days later, in Kathmandu, we heard that the very airport where we had camped for days had been attacked by Maoists and some people had been killed." In Kathmandu another Maoist attack closes the city down. "As we waited to leave this place, I remembered the carpet of gentians¨and the isolated but thick patches of Delphinium abloom in the melting snow. There were the forests of rhododendrons, specimens thirty feet high¨I remembered all that I had seen but I especially remembered all that I had felt. I remembered my fears. I remembered how practically every step was fraught with memories of my past, and the immediate one of my son Harold all alone in Vermont, and my love for it and my fear of losing it." "This account of a walk I took while gathering the seeds of flowering plants in the foothills of the Himalayas has its origins in my love of the garden¨my love of feeling isolated, of imagining myself all alone in the world and everything unfamiliar, or the familiar being strange, my love of being afraid but at the same time not letting my fear stand in the way." So begins Jamaica Kincaid's adventure into the mountains of Nepal with a small group of botanists. After laborious training and preparation, the group leaves Kathmandu by small plane, into the Annapurna Valley to begin their trek. ("From inside the plane it always seemed to me as if we were about to collide with these sharp green peaks, I especially thought this would be true when I saw one of the pilots reading the newspaper, but Dan said that at the other times he'd flown in this part of the world the pilots always read the newspaper and it did not seem to affect the flight in a bad way.") The temperature was 96 degrees F. on arrival, and the little airport in Tumlingtar was awash in Maoists in camouflage fatigues. "What I was about to do, what I had in mind to do, what I planned for over a year to do, was still a mystery to me. I was on the edge of it though." The group sets off with a large retinue of sherpas and bearers, and Kincaid, in simple, richly detailed prose describes the landscape, the Nepalese villages, the passing trekkers and yak herds. Direct and opinionated ("We decided to call them [other trekkers] the Germans because we didn't like them from the look of them¨and Germans seem to be the one group of people left that cannot be liked because you feel like it."), Kincaid moves easily between closely observed, down-to-earth descriptions of the trek and larger musings, about gardens, nature, seed gathering, home, and family. Negotiations with the Maoists to pass through villages interject dramatic notes ("Dan and I became Canadians. Until then I would never have dreamt of calling myself anything other than American. But the Maoists had told Sunam [head sherpa] that President Powell had just been to Kathmandu and denounced them as terrorists and that had made them very angry with President Powell."). The group presses on, determined in its search for "beautiful plants native to the Himalayas but will grow happily in Vermont or somewhere like that." Eventually they reach a spectacular pass at 15,600 feet and start back. Down at the village of Donge they have another run-in with the Maoists. They "lectured us all through the afternoon into the setting sun, mentioning again the indignity of being called mere terrorists by President Powell of the United States." To lessen the tension, the sherpas produces some Chang, an alcohol made from millet, intoxicating everyone, Kincaid included. At the airport, the Maoists are threatening attack, but the group must wait three days for an airplane. Finally they get off safely. "Days later, in Kathmandu, we heard that the very airport where we had camped for days had been attacked by Maoists and some people had been killed." In Kathmandu another Maoist attack closes the city down. "As we waited to leave this place, I remembered the carpet of gentians¨and the isolated but thick patches of Delphinium abloom in the melting snow. There were the forests of rhododendrons, specimens thirty feet high¨I remembered all that I had seen but I especially remembered all that I had felt. I remembered my fears. I remembered how practically every step was fraught with memories of my past, and the immediate one of my son Harold all alone in Vermont, and my love for it and my fear of losing it."

Publisher: Washington, D.C. : National Geographic, 2005
ISBN: 9780792265306
0792265300
Branch Call Number: 813.54 KIN
Characteristics: 189 p. : ill

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