Ros Haynes, Tasmania Regional Meeting
Words, Images and Heart’s Wine: A Gift Book by Alison McConnell Imbriotis is subtitled ‘not another cookbook’. As someone who is incredulous and dismayed at the tidal wave of cookbooks that shows no sign of abating, I was immediately intrigued. The author explains that having lived with diabetes for over thirty years she has been somewhat overwhelmed by the collection of healthy, helpful cookbooks bestowed on her by well-meaning friends. She would have liked to be seen not just as someone with diabetes but someone who valued beautiful things and the pleasure of sharing them with others. This book is therefore her gift, not just for those with diabetes, but for anyone who can be delighted, inspired and supported by beautiful things.
It may not be a recipe book but it is definitely a book about food – food for the senses, the mind, the soul.
So this book is designed, in every detail, as a beautiful gift. It comes diagonally bound with a ribbon, packaged in a glossy white box, with an inscription page ready to write one’s own words on for a gift.
The gift has two parts: a treasury of photos by Alison McConnell Imbriotis and Jessica Somerville of objects that have impacted deeply on the author, foregrounded so that we really look at them in great detail: a branch of young, green fruit, an eagle floating in a blue sky, an ancient door handle, a village fountain, lichen on a rock face. On each facing page are words that convey the author’s own experiential journey and suggest why these objects were so significant. They are a kind of artist’s statement inviting us to see more in each image but without constraining us.
Many of the phrases are little poems, complete in themselves:
Moments of wonder emerged from the everyday,
the common place. Little miracles of beauty.
For a moment the way forward was obscured.
I hovered in that moment.
Some pages read almost like quotations from our Advices and Queries:
Do you find fullness in simplicity?
Do you find the moments to enjoy the unusual?
Do you feel the earth beneath your feet?
Do you take the time to be?
Have you laughed enough?
Each page of writing is cradled between a pair of crucial words in flowing script that underline the essence of the message, slowing us down to think of their meaning beyond the page.
Besides opening our eyes to see a world of wondrous things, the images also tell of a journey. It begins as Alison’s literal pilgrimage along the Camino in Spain and time walking around Carcassonne, but it becomes a journey of the soul through the everyday. I am reminded of George Herbert’s words: ‘Heaven in ordinary … something understood.’
For me this is a book to treasure as a daybook, choosing one page at a time to linger over, to savour, think about, to live – and also to give away.
Words, Images and Heart’s Wine: A Gift Book by Alison McConnell Imbriotis
Publisher: Wickedly Diabetic, Hobart. 70 pp., $25.00 + postage