First-time-published author, Mea Lashbrooke of Dreyersdal in Bergvliet, is delighted by the enthusiastic reception that her book, ‘divining moments’ is enjoying. “But it’s more than that”, says Mea. “There has been extraordinary support for this project for some time. And now, the way that this book is being celebrated touches me deeply. The launch at Rattlesnake Books last week morphed into a street party in York Road Muizenberg.”
Reflections of a personal journey, woven within an account of travels to Sinai and India, are bound as a volume of letters and photographs sent to a friend in Cape Town. Mea writes of her encounter with the story of modern Tibet, teaching English to monks, a tapestry of religions, sleeping in caves during a desert retreat and much else. This multi-dimensional book also shifts seamlessly between the past and the present.
Rattlesnake Books was the venue for the launch. As this collectors’ book emporium is a small shop there was some concern about spilling into the street if the rain was bucketing. But it was one of those wind-free winter evenings, not even chilly. At 6 pm, as the book-lovers arrived, surfers were wandering home, street folk were noting the activities with interest, would-be sellers were still approaching the shop with plastic bags of second-hand books and the local cafes were opening their doors. Wine, home-made lemon juice and snacks, from the Empire Café next door, were served by willing friends to the growing crowd that gathered on the pavement.
“What I really enjoyed was seeing old friends greeting one another. I suddenly thought, ‘Hey this is my party’. And, as I had turned 60 the week before, it felt like that, with everyone in celebratory mood”, said Mea. “At one end of the street the damp green mountain seemed so close. At the other end, beyond the railway line, the colourful beach boxes drew me up sharp. I had known this beach for more than half a century, and never in my wildest dreams had I thought I would hold a party here, much less launch a book. The mountains across False Bay were pink. The ocean was gleaming a slow metallic blue. And I felt profoundly honoured to be supported by so many.”
Andrew Berki, owner of Rattlesnake Books said later “It really was a good night. Lovely people, good readings and a relaxed atmosphere.” Members of Mea’s family read extracts from the book. “This brought a tangibility, a visual sense that I had not been able to experience myself, when reading the book”, said Mea. “I would like to hear the whole book read aloud now.”
In her speech, Anne Haarhoff, editor of ‘divining moments’ said “Mea makes her reader hear, feel and see. With her sharp, sensitive eye and in nimble, elegant prose she draws us up close as she embarks on her journey East. In the way of a Flemish master, she describes panoramic views and landscapes, rich in detail – busy street scenes, village life, mountains, rivers and people. Travelling beside her we touch, taste, smell and see India and the Sinai desert. You’ll spare a thought for the bees of the world next time you drizzle honey on steaming winter porridge and think twice about that 250gr steak on your plate. Her reverence for life and the Earth resonates all through her writing.”
As gifts, Mea gave Rattlesnake wine from Steenberg Estate to particular people who had assisted in the process of putting her book together. “Charles Abbott of The Attic Press produced the excellent look of this book. He is a very patient man to work with me, I can tell you, as I am such an amateur in this business. I have learnt so much from Charles”, said Mea.
HMS Rattlesnake participated in the Battle of Muizenberg in 1795, when the British drove the Dutch inland. The Dutch retreated across the flats, at what is now called Retreat, up to Steenberg where they surrendered after less than two months. The story of HMS Rattlesnake ends there, as history does not relate what happened to her after this date.
Mea hopes that her ‘divining moments’ will be enjoyed by many people for some time to come.