My mutt is way too much of a crazy pup to be a good #vandog (yet!) so I lived vicariously through Steinbeck’s drive across America with Charles de Chien in their purpose-built truck. Though Travels with Charley was published over forty years ago, I was struck by how relevant his musings remain. He complained about overcrowding, gridlocked traffic and mounds of rubbish (then one page later extolled the virtues of single-use frying pans!) Perhaps every age feels that they are suffering a great demise.
Steinbeck’s spare but incisive observations of people and places was an absolute delight. His description of the quiet hush of solo breakfast diners was perfect. He balances quirky musings on his dog with beautiful insights into the places he visits. I was thrilled to read his description of my own little home corner of the west coast:
I stayed two days close to the bodies of the giants, and there were no trippers, no chattering troupes with cameras. There’s a cathedral hush here. Perhaps the thick soft bark absorbs sound and creates silence. The trees rise straight up to zenith; there is no horizon. The dawn comes early and remains dawn until the sun is high. Then the green fernlike foliage so far up strains the sunlight to a green gold and distributes it in shafts or rather in stripes of light and shade.
Now, it’s probably appropriate to end this post with some summery puppy spam, right?
PS – Here is another perfectly-formed slim read.