A Mourner of Swine” – a memoir and cooking with lavender | Bookends

When we finish our formal schooling and are ready to get on with our lives, many of us go to college or find a job and go on from there.

In the early 1970s, Walter H. Brown took a giant leap to start his life. He took a teaching job in Africa.

As an African American, he expected to see squalor in some areas. What he found was not only the everyday man in dour conditions, but sadistic rulers, vindictive men in power, and a cruel mindset in the so-called leaders.

A quote from the book tells it like it was: “Even our politicians operate within a vicious circle. Always stabbing each other in the back.”

Brown tells of the many heartbreaking situations where a citizen was beaten for no apparent reason, and he was told about the abuses and killing of the people because they were black. These terrible acts were perpetrated by the white South African soldiers.

Added to this ugly and hard environment was the fact that sanitation was not in use in any way. Dirty and contaminated water meant for human consumption was full of germs and diseases, and the standing water puddles on the streets were full of hepatitis, just waiting to infect the population.

At one point in his 10 years of teaching, Brown met with the Kwashiorker chief. The day of their meeting, he found the chief sitting on the ground among swine. After acknowledging Brown’s presence, he said, “Look at dem, de pigs. Are dey not beautiful? Just look at dem. I love dem.”

He continued, “Do you know why I love dem? Unlike humans, they have nothing to hide. Dey are true to their nature.”

This book is a very interesting read, full of stories about what the author saw, what he tried to impart to his students about the outside world, and also full of beautiful writing descriptions like, “The African night was rude and uninviting. If the pitch blackness had the weight of its thickness, it would have mercilessly descended, grinding me into powder.”

If you’d like to meet the author Brown and get a signed copy of his book “The Mourner of Swine,” he will be at Barnes & Noble in Silverdale at noon on Dec. 17. You can also find this book at Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo and Bremerton, at Eagle Harbor Book on Bainbridge Island, and on Amazon.com.

I leave you with a quote from Brown: “We need to recognize the humanity in everyone else and ours in them.”

Now on another note: Whether you love to cook or not, enjoy experiencing new flavors or simply reading about unique culinary techniques, Kathy Gehrt’s new book, “Discover Cooking with Lavender,” provides a sumptuous exploration into the world of lavender.

I got this announcement from Susan Harrington. I call her the Lavender Queen. She lives in Hansville, and not only grows lavender, but teaches others how to grow and use this lovely scented plant for relaxation and health purposes. In her announcement, she also said “ ‘Discover Cooking with Lavender’ offers readers 75 recipes for sugars, seasonings and blends, delectable drinks, savory creations and secret sweets.”

These are easy-to-follow recipes, such as Lavender Ginger Lemon Sugar, Bruschetta with Tomatoes and Roasted Lavender, Strawberries with Lavender Yogurt Cream and Honey Ginger Lavender Lemonade. Doesn’t that all sound good?

Happy reading and cooking.

Donna Lee Anderson writes a weekly literary column for Kitsap Weekly. You can email her at well toltales@aol.com.