Monthly Archives: March 2014

Sometimes we are all the white caribou…

Annabel by Kathleen Winter is one of my favourite books. It has just been optioned as a movie based on a song and video by a UK artist named Allison Goldfrapp. She wrote the song and produced the video after reading the book. Obviously this book has had as much impact on her as it has on me. The video is as hauntingly beautiful as the book. The end makes me tear up and that’s saying something. That shiny dress has never looked so beautiful. You should watch. Really watch. With your eyes open to the beauties of things that are special in every way.

Goldfrapp – Annabel from Mute on Vimeo.

If you don’t know the book here is a synopsis from Amazon:
In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of the remote coastal town of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret—the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbor and midwife, Thomasina. Though Treadway makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, the women continue to quietly nurture the boy’s female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as “Annabel,” is never entirely extinguished.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book. The book invokes themes of loss, love, hope, despair, change, gender identity, insecurity, love of the land, cultural traditions, normal vs abnormal, and true friendship. It’s loaded!!! Read it slowly and thoughtfully. Relish each word as it was chosen for a reason.

“Whenever she imagined her child, grown up without interference from a judgemental world, she imagined its male and female halves as complementing each other, and as being secretly, almost magically powerful.”
― Kathleen Winter, Annabel

“Why would a white caribou come down to Beaver River, where the woodland herd lives? Why would she leave the Arctic tundra, where the light blazes incandescent, to haunt these shadows? Why would any caribou leave her herd to walk, solitary, thousands of miles? The herd is comfort. The herd is a fabric you can’t cut or tear, passing over the land. If you could see the herd from the sky, if you were a falcon or a king eider, it would appear like softly floating gauze over the face of the snow, no more substantial than a cloud. “We are soft,” the herd whispers. “We have no top teeth. We do not tear flesh. We do not tear at any part of life. We are gentleness itself. Why would any of us break from the herd? Break, apart, separate, these are hard words. The only reason any of us would become one, and not part of the herd, is if she were lost.”
― Kathleen Winter, Annabel

“…People are rivers, always ready to move from one state of being into another. It is not fair, to treat people as if they are finished beings. Everyone is always becoming and unbecoming.”
― Kathleen Winter, Annabel

“…In the city the colour, the life, came shouting out. Human life. In Croydon Harbour human life came second to the life of the big land, and no one seemed to mind. No one minded being an extra in the land’s story.”
~ Kathleen Winter, Annabel


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