"That afternoon was brimming with a loveliness peculiar to that particular place; he knew that I was appreciating it, and I knew without any doubt how profoundly he was penetrated by it. He was a man who, with the help of the right wife, had finally found himself the place and the life that fulfilled him, and lived it with a completeness and intensity more often seen in an artist than in someone who should have been a farmer, had to become an army officer, and ended by teaching people sailing, and growing oysters, on the edge of the North Sea. What filled him as death approached was not fear of whatever physical battering he would have to endure (in fact there was not, at the end, any of that), but grief at having to say goodbye to what he could never have enough of."
(Athill, Diana: Somewhere Towards the End, Granta, London 2008, p. 74)
Books about ageing and dying might not seem the most obvious choice for summer holiday reading, but nature at its most alive and abundant is an indication of the passing of time as acute, if not more, as when the trees go bare later in the year.
The extract above describes an afternoon Athill spent sailing with her brother shortly before he died. Most of the women in her family made it into their nineties, and she wrote this book in her ninetieth year (she is 95 now). While parts are inevitably depressing, it is imbued with her acceptance of old age and death and written with a lightness of touch, at times approaching cheerfulness, surrounding the subject matter.
The quoted passage, despite its heartbreaking melancholy ("His trouble was that he resented [death] because he loved his life so passionately." p.73), serves as a reminder to live life with the "completeness and intensity" her brother lived his.