Monday, March 21, 2016

The Hare With Amber Eyes



Ocean View by Helen Tilston


I belong to a newly formed book club.  Our founder brought ten friends together from various professions and we are all getting along very well.   Our first meeting was in November when we selected at my suggestion "The Hare with Amber Eyes" by Edmund de Waal.
I had read this book previously and the story lingered long after I closed the final page.   Our meeting to review the book was scheduled for January.

My daily routine is to fast walk/run 4-5 miles each morning on the beach.  To vary my route I will sometimes walk over Belleair Bridge which is a steep bridge that has incredible views.  One often meets the same walkers and Americans being both friendly and encouraging will greet and sometimes small talk ensues.  My painting and exhibitions stole much of my time in December and I was cramming to finish my required read.  I decided to listen to the book on tape.  
One morning my mind was miles away and on the home stretch of listening to "The Hare with Amber Eyes"  when  a regular walker, Madame X, a stunningly beautiful octogenarian waved and asked how I was.  I unplugged my headset and she asked what I was reading.   I told her and she asked what it was about.  I told her it was a memoir with the story woven around a collection of 264 netsukes.  I pronounced it net suke s.  She promptly corrected my pronounciation saying it is net skas.  I asked how she knew and she said she had a collection.   I was stunned beyond belief and she then asked me if I would like to visit her home.   I did not need much persuasion.   She is an art collector and had a rich and varied collection, including approximately 100 netsukes all purchased in Japan where she was based for many years.   She insisted on loaning me 10 pieces to our next book club meeting.

Here are some of the pieces
Netsuke:  Carved from wood or ivory and fit in the palm of the hand. Carving often takes more than a year to produce.  

Some may say coincidence or being aligned with the universe or the Holy Spirit being amongst us, I shall let you decide.
That a stranger would know what a netsuke was surprised me but to think she had a collection and I met her and she trusted me to loan me these valuable pieces for our book club meeting has me still tickled pink.  


74 comments:

  1. You are the sort of person who has these encounters, Helen, open and interested and with such a friendly face. Long may they continue.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Mise
    What a beautiful compliment. Thank you most sincerely.

    Helen xx

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wonderful story Helen and I would love to be in on that book club session! I have not read the book but have heard great things about it. I will pass the suggestion on to our book club, with your story. Kismet! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jeanne,
      Wish you were one of our book club members. You would love this diverse group of women who take their reading very seriously. The food served is usually related to the setting of the book. It was an unbelievable coincidence. Helen x

      Delete
  4. No coincidence, I'm sure. Often in life such things happen, but we have to be ready to see them - open to chatting to the octogenarian on the bridge!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you. Sometimes I feel we are in alignment and life operates so smoothly and the right people show up.
      Happy Easter
      Helen xx

      Delete
  5. It was a wonderful book (thank you for the recommendation) and it was great to learn that the author Edmund De Waal is a brilliant potter and ceramic artist. His work is so original it's just amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jen,
      We often agree on the same books and movies and I knew you would like this book, the setting, history and art. I would love to own a piece of Edmund's art.
      Helen xx

      Delete
  6. Wow! This is like two worlds that collide in the most positive way. To think she spoke to you first and then the rest unfolds. I have never heard of a netsuke and I'm so happy now to know. Her collection must be incredible. To think, 100 pieces. I"m sure your book club will be over-joyed! Love happy stories xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Deborah,
      I had spoken to Madame X on a few occasions prior to this day. Small talk really as one does. I had not heard of netsukes until reading of them in the book. That she even knew was a surprise in itself. Her art collection is lovingly collected and I hope she invites me back again. Yes she was very trusting too.
      It is going to be a hard act to follow on future books.
      Happy Easter to you and Graham

      Helen xx

      Delete
  7. What a wonderful story. I am a believer that God brings people into our lives for very specific reasons and it is up to us to be very aware of his leading. I know you are always aware of divine intervention. You are such a lovely person, Helen!

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a lovely coincidence, if that is what is was. I enjoyed this book very much also, and had not heard of netsuke myself. Then I asked another guide at the gallery where I work, and it turns out she owns several, and that our gallery has some in the collection. Since then I have found and studied them, and also noticed them in antique stores. The pieces you show us are brilliant, especially the snake. So fascinating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Patricia,
      How fabulous that you have read the book and also have had occasion to see some netsukes and that your gallery has a collection. They are so unique and beautiful. I was very fortunate to be gifted a "hare with amber eyes" by one of my closest friends. It is a treasure.
      Madame X lovingly collected these netsukes when she was based in Japan.
      Lovely to hear from you and a very Happy Easter.
      Helen xx

      Delete
  9. Wow! Things can happen.. Your painting is beautiful with lovely, bright colors. Happy Tuesday, Helen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sutu. Thank you for visiting and for your compliment on my painting.
      Fond wishes for a very Happy Easter.
      Helen x

      Delete
  10. I love a story of connections particularly one that works out to be so lovely.
    My youngest son and his wife were fortunate enough to be given some of Edmund De Waal's coffee cups when they married, this was before the Hare with the Amber Eyes, which has now sent his work stratospheric.
    Your book club will have a lovely time examining and handling the little Netsukes. I have a few myself and love looking at their fine detail.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Rosemary,
      Your son and his wife are so fortunate to own Edmund de Waal's cups. What a treasure. I have been looking at his web site and drooling at the simplicity and beauty of his work.
      The book club members are in awe of the netsukes. We also played an interview with Edmund de Waal as many wanted to know if he spoke like he wrote. One of our younger members said she consulted her dictionary with more frequency than any book she has read thus far.
      I would love to see an image of your netsukes, perhaps in a future post.
      Happy Easter.
      Helen xx

      Delete
  11. What a lovely story Helen ..... I love being asked to someone's home, not in a nosey way, just out of interest !!
    I bought the book ' The Hare with the Amber Eyes ' for my friend who is a potter but I haven't read it .... I must get a copy for myself. XXXX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jacqueline,
      Thanks for commenting. It is an honour to be invited to someone's home and I so agree with you. It is an extension of the person and completes knowing them.
      I think you definitely need your own copy of the Hare with Amber Eyes. It is a keeper.
      Happy Easter
      Helen xx

      Delete
  12. So glad to hear from you Helen. Love the painting. I am in awe of your morning ritual. Net ski is how I always pronounce it and what a serendipitous meeting with the lady. I will have to look for the book as I love all things Japanese.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Helen,
    Lovely painting. That's a wonderful story for your autobiography! For sure you are aligned with good fortune to meet the woman. Your book club selection is on my reading list. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your compliment on my painting. It is a work in progress and I need one more session on it.
      It was definitely divine intervention that joined me to Madame X.
      Wishing you a very Happy Easter.
      Helen xx

      Delete
  14. Great story
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Regine for visiting.

      I look forward to visiting your blog,
      Helen

      Delete
  15. I love bizarre co-incidences and that is such a heart warming story and will help to bring the book alive for your new book club. Great choice of book - unusual and readable. (And a new friend, too!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Marianne,
      It was a superb meeting with our book club. Jewish desserts were served and everyone lovingly handled the netsukes.
      It is a fabulous book and one I will keep on my bookshelf.
      Happy Easter
      Helen xx

      Delete
  16. My dearest Helen,

    Welcome back. I have missed you so much for these past few months when you were away and occupied with your winter projects (all very artistic and intellectual as always). Edmund de Waal is such an interesting artist as well as writer. How thrilling it must be to meet such a fascinating woman, Madame X and you must have definitely charmed her with your friendly smile and presence. Her unique and beautiful collection of Netsuke will, no doubt, bring object poetry in the book club discussion.

    With warmest wishes, ASD x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest ASD,
      Thank you for your warm welcome and lovely to see you here too.
      I would love to see de Waal's pottery in real life and when next in London will make a point of this.
      You would love Madame X. She is elegant, refined, strong and extremely kind. Her taste is exquisite and her generosity was totally unexpected.
      Wishing you a very Happy Easter.
      Helen xx

      Delete
  17. How pretty they are. I had no clue what netsukes were until I read your post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Loree,

      You are not alone. I, too, had no idea what netsukes were. This made is so surprising that Madame X would know and have a collection.
      Wishing you a very Happy Easter.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  18. H E L E N !!!!!

    That painting, oh the color aqua just makes me happy! Colors and light are great mood benders for me, and this is my happy color! What a lovely day you must have had, collecting memories of a great place. Thank you dear for visiting me, and I wish you as well a very lovely Easter! Anita

    ReplyDelete
  19. That is really incredible, Helen, a gift from God to you. The chances of that happening are one in a billion. I had never heard of netsukes. I love your painting. Beautiful colors. I can always pick your paintings out because of the vivid colors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Shelly,
      The work of the Holy Spirit for sure. You are so right and how surprising to find someone with a collection of netsukes. It added so much to our book club meeting.
      Thank you for your kind words about my painting.
      Wishing you, Richard and family a very Happy Easter.
      xx

      Delete
  20. That is the most wonderful story! I enjoyed that book too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jen, I am happy to hear you also read the Hare with Amber Eyes. Hope you have a very Happy Easter.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  21. Hi Helen - well I didn't know any of that .. so I'm delighted to read all about and to look on Wiki - for a bit more info.

    The Hare with the Amber Eyes - now I know a little more about the book that's been highly recommended by so many ... cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Hilary, I am delighted to impart a small piece of knowledge to you. It is usually the reverse, you are the bearer of such great posts, history and stories.
      Yes I do believe you will love the book.
      Helen xx

      Delete
  22. Hi Helen - then I didn't comment on the painting - lovely .. such rich colours. Just ordered the book ... and the Rothschild's have a gallery at the British Museum ... and I'm sure some of their Netsukes would be in the Gallery ... I saw the Gallery twice recently and took some photos ... and sometime will write it up - especially now I can reference your post and the connection ... with de Waal ...

    That's great the book group is being such a success .. cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Hilary, Thank you for your beautiful compliment on my painting. This was painted at Belleair Bridge right by where Madame X and I met. It need a little tweaking yet.
      I am anxious to make a trip to London and the British Museum. How exciting that the Rothschild's collection is there.
      de Waal has a marvellous command of the English language and some of our book club members took time to find his rhythm. One commented "I wonder if he talks like he writes" Now with web one is able to find him speaking which added to the book review.
      A very Happy Easter Hilary

      Helen xx

      Delete
    2. Hi Helen - thanks for both your replies ... the book has arrived and I need to sit and scan it - as I'm giving it away for Easter. But I will print out your thoughts and then these below ...

      I'm delighted to read you often learn from me - I've had to learn first! I do hope you can get to the BM at some stage - the Rothschild Gallery is permanent on the ground floor - to the right as you go in ... through the gift shop and past the clocks!

      I still haven't looked for a Netsuke in my photos .. but will do - the A-Z is looming large ...

      Enjoy Easter and it's so much fun adding to the story lines ... cheers Hilary

      Delete
  23. What a wonderful story Helen. She sounds like the perfect friend for you and you for her. Sometimes it seems like fate takes a marvelous course.
    Sam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sam,

      I would love to be Madame X's friend. She lives a very full life and has many obligations and responsibilities which she takes seriously and with a smile on her face.
      I do want to be like her when I grow up.

      Happy Easter Sam and I look forward to seeing your marvellous creations .

      Helen xx

      Delete
  24. That is a beautiful story. I love coincidences. Thank you for your kind visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Lucille,
      Thank you and yes it was a wonderful coincidence and will be a difficult act to follow for our next book review.
      I hope you have a very Happy Easter.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  25. What a wonderful thing to happen and how kind of the lady to loan the netsukes for your reading group. Thank you for visiting and commenting on my last post:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Rose,
      Yes indeed the kind woman whom I call Madame X was very trusting of me and most generous to loan us her collection.

      There are some great and wonderful people out there.

      Happy Easter.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  26. Coincidence? I think not. Sometimes fate likes to have a little fun with us. :) I have the book here (waiting to be unpacked) somewhere, Helen. Been meaning to read it and other things kept getting in the way. I've heard nothing but good things about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Yvette,
      Yes, I concur with your opinion. I will look forward to hearing your thoughts on the book.

      Wishing you a joyful week
      Helen xx

      Delete
  27. Hello, Helen!
    Happy spring. What a wonderful coincidence!! Cannot wait for the show-and-tell at your next book club meeting. Please keep us posted :) Those pieces are beautiful. And now I know how to properly pronounce netsuke. Great story.
    Cheers,
    Loi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Loi, Thank you for your good wishes which I return to you and to Tom. This particular book review has so many added layers of interest. I know you have no time for reading and I wish you success in all your decisions and changes.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  28. Really impressed with the story Helen...I deeply believe we are ruled from the forces of coincidence sometimes. I have experienced it in my life. What a beautiful painting is that!Love all those shades of blue.
    Happy weekend ahead!
    Olympia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Olympia,

      Thank you for your kind compliment on my painting. It is one of my favourite daily walks. The steep incline of the bridge provides good exercise. This particular coincidence had us scratching our heads and grateful to meet Madame X
      Hope all is great with you.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  29. Replies
    1. Thank you for your good wishes and I return them to you and yours.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  30. It sounds like a connection that was meant to be! How very serendipitous. :o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your visit. It was indeed serendipitous and a beautiful meeting with Madame X
      Fond wishes
      Helen x

      Delete
  31. What a lovely coincidence! I can see how people would want to collect netsukes (if that is the plural - hey, I don't want to start getting too linguistically self conscious about this) I must ask my Japanese friends what the concept is behind them. I bet it is something we haven't thought about. I heard a bit about Japanese jigsaw puzzles the other day and it was very surprising, something about the uncertainty of life.
    Thanks for a fun post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jenny
      I am afraid I do not know the plural of netsukes and I will gladly accept this. Sometimes the netsukes were carried around in pockets as a talisman. They were used as a decoration on the belts/sashes of kimonos.
      I hope you post about Japanese jigsaw puzzles.
      Have a great week.
      Helen xx

      Delete
  32. I love your painting at the top. So fresh and 'immediate' { if that can be said about a painting that has to dry :-)]
    and I envy you the beach for daily walking. I walk 5 miles per day as well, mostly inside my own garden.
    joanna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Joanna and thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. I also am grateful for your flattering comment on my painting.
      As a fellow walker you only too well know the joy from a good walk
      Helen x

      Delete
  33. Hello Helen! How I love that painting you start with!

    Thank you so much for coming to visit and leaving a comment. We had such a fun day of photography!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Anita,
      Thank you for you compliment on my painting. This little estuary is the beginning of the long hike up the bridge.

      It is always a joy to visit your beautiful blog
      Helen xx

      Delete
  34. Helen, I wish I lived near you because I start each morning with a walk as well! It would be nice to have a companion!

    I just ordered this book for my husband as he too has a large collection of netsukes.

    I hope that you have a fabulous week!

    Thank you for coming to visit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Elizabeth,
      That is a beautiful thought that we could walk together one morning. Who knows it may happen one day.
      How fabulous that your husband has a collection netsukes. I would love to hear how he acquired them, perhaps you will write a post one day.
      Thanks for you good wishes and as always lovely to visit your beautiful blog.
      Helen xx

      Delete
  35. Hell Helen, what a lovely story! Life is full of coincidences and chance meetings that are just meant to be.
    I havent heard of this book but it sounds fascinating. Hope you enjoyed the Book Club meeting.
    Such a beautiful painting Helen, it is full of sunshine and makes me think of holidays!
    Thanks for visiting me at my blog, it is always a pleasure to hear from you!
    Best Wishes
    Gill xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Gill,

      Thank you for visiting my blog.

      Those chance meetings make life so worthwhile. It is also heartwarming when a strangers trusts completely and is generous.

      I thank you for the compliment on my painting.

      It is always a joy to visit your blog and to see your creativity and activities.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  36. Dear Helen,

    Your story of, shall we say, sweet serendipity, made me smile, for a while, as I re-read it, since it was simply too special and demanded a second look, to study its intriguing characters, idyllic setting, and of course, its twist in the plot!

    Happy weekend, to you, my whimsical friend!

    xx
    Poppy

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hello Poppy,

    How sweet and kind of you to re-read my post. You are most kind.
    Having had such a treasure to take to our first book club review meet made the evening very special.

    Wishing you a spectacular weekend Helen xx

    ReplyDelete
  38. I LOVE the locust :) that is my personal favorite!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for visiting and yes the locust is very interesting.
      Have a delightful week
      Helen

      Delete
  39. I'm late reading this lovely post Helen. I love it when coincidences happen. My David says he's very 'serendipidous' and indeed we have had so many happy moments because of this.I hope your book club are delighted by those tiny treasures. Love Jane xx

    ReplyDelete
  40. Hello Jane,

    Thanks for visiting and it is never too late. Happy moments expresses this so beautifully too. One feels very connected when such events happen. Our book club takes all readings with great enthusiasm and it makes our meeting very interestig. Since having netsukes at our first meeting there is effort made to have items or a menu in keeping with the subject matter.
    Have a spectacular week.
    Helenxx

    ReplyDelete
  41. This is such a great story! Beginning to end. You post such interesting things. Makes me want to join a book club which I have zero time for. Loved hearing about netsukes. I have my ear to the ground now. It's terrific that you came by to visit me! Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
  42. The Hare With Amber Eyes is a wonderful book. Since you liked it so much, you should read The Exiles Return, which was written by Edmund de Waal's grandmother. A book of fiction, it is about the return of several "exiles" to Vienna after the war was over. Excellent reading. Better yet, it is a lovely offering by Persephone Books in London. Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete