Celia Duthie - A Down-To-Earth Reader & Dryocopus pileatusSunday, March 27, 2011
|Dryocopus pileatus - woodcut by Celia Duthie|
Just about anybody with a little of a memory (memory fades very quickly in Vancouver) will tell you that Celia Duthie was a forward-thinking woman who got things done until big box bookstores changed the playing field and the rules of bookselling in Vancouver.
I will be the first to point out that once I stopped buying books at Duthie Bookstores (because they had all closed down) I suddenly found myself buying many more books at very attractive prices. For many years the remainder section of Chapters kept me happily in bed reading for $5 a shot.
This wonderful utopia of books changed in January 2010 when I looked at my collection of 4000 books and realized that parting with them when and if Rosemary were to move to a smaller place, would be a seriously unhappy event. I made the decision then to not buy any more books and depend on the wonders of our Vancouver Public Library. And wonderful it is.
But there seems to be an extension of Patterson’s Law (that stipulates that Murphy was an optimist) that dictates that if you give a book away, within a week you will need it to retrieve an important quote. Google is not always a help in finding such quotes. I am learning to live with Patterson's Law of Reading.
But overall I am happy with my relationship with the Vancouver Public Library.
With the last Duthie store on 4th Avenue, Celia Duthie no longer has access to an unlimited supply of books. Unlike this reader, Duthie must read the latest Le Carré as soon as it is out. It took me three months (I was on a long waiting list) to get my hands on le Carré’s Our Kind of Traitor but Jerome Charyn’s The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson was readily available. Duthie has been brought down to our level. You would think that this would make her morose and unhappy. I must report that this is not the case.
She happily runs her Salt Spring Island (Duthie writes the name of the island as two separate words so I will oblige) gallery (Duthie Gallery/ Salt Spring Woodworks) and exhibits truly beautiful artefacts that in some cases are not only art but happen to be useful art in that Judson Beaumont’s lanterns can light your way, and Brent Comber’s saucy and sexy furniture also happens to be furniture (which includes spacious drawers). Or something as simple as Jeff Triggs’ steamed spruce lamps can light your kitchen as seen here in my photo of Duthie’s guest suite.
|Steamed spruce lamp by Jeff Triggs|
As you enter the Duthie residence you will find to your left a table that contains the latest stuff that somehow has affected Celia Duthie and her husband Nick Hunt. This time around I was greeted by a woodcut of a woodpecker (you must forgive me for the fact that the scan here is incomplete as the work is bigger than my scanner bed), Dryocopus pileatus. I commented on how I liked it and Duthie immediately informed me that it was part of her “unlimited” (that’s the word she used) edition of woodcuts that she now makes.
Within days of leaving Salt Spring the door bell rang and I opened the door to find Duthie with two wood cuts which I will have framed and give to my granddaughters. I am sure they will be as delighted as I was and meanwhile I hope Duthie visits our public library. She will find treasures there but will have to adjust to being on a waiting list for those best-sellers just like the ordinary folk we all are.