I just re-read My Family And Other Animals by Gerald Durrell for at least the fifth time. It’s an account of the time his family spent on the Greek island of Corfu when he was a boy. My husband and I both enjoy this book, but have discovered that we can’t read it at bedtime, at least not when one of us is trying to sleep, because the one reading will keep the other awake with laughter.
I often find, with favorite books, that I notice different things each time I read them. What struck me this time around was how much careful observation there is in Durrell’s stories. Here is someone who was insatiably curious about the world around him, and was willing to spend a great deal of time just looking at things— geckos on his bedroom ceiling, trapdoor spiders, or scorpions in the garden wall.
His curiosity was rewarded with some fascinating sights. There was the epic battle in his bedroom between a small gecko and a large praying mantis, the slow-motion mating rituals of turtles, and the sight of a giant toad stuffing an earthworm in its mouth.
I’ve had experiences like that, too, but not nearly as many as the young Durrell. The thing is, you have to get outside— that’s the easy part— and then you have to sit still.