The flowers on my deck have somehow managed to winter over despite this season’s freezing temperatures, snows, windstorms, and the deep gray of our very short Seattle winter days. As I started reading In Patagonia this week, I realized that I tend to “winter over” myself by reading books that take me far, far away. I don’t plan ahead to book-travel each winter, but there have been two other times when I’ve chosen a book to read and then had to search through files to find a map so I could follow along. It’s a delightful experience to journey with good writers/travelers/observers such as Bruce Chatwin, Paul Theroux, and Che Guevara.
I am really enjoying In Patagonia. Chatwin is a wonderful storyteller, and his descriptions are vivid. Because of my own memories of Argentina, as an exchange student 40 years ago, I already have a sense of Patagonia. I didn’t actually go to that part of Argentina, but when I first saw the pampas outside of Buenos Aires, I was overwhelmed with the flatness of the landscape. Having come from mountains, I had never seen anything so flat or so vast. Those images are sharp in my memory and help me envision some of the locations Chatwin describes. But it is my long-ago feeling of endless expanse that helps to bring this book vividly to life for me as I read on this dark Seattle morning.