Sad Book

My life is a wordless book right now. Its pages are full of scenes bright and vibrant, turning quickly.  I flip back over them in my head trying to catch some details that I missed on the first look.  Some pages are more blurry on the second go. And some images become more defined. Fall quickens the pace. The slow summer days are flung into a world where everything is hurrying to find its proper rhythm. There is life around every corner. And you think to turn to someone and show them autumn's first fallen chestnuts, but they aren't there.

And then this book fell into my lap.  It is just the right sort of read when you need to be in the good company of those bereaved.


The stories we choose

Every day in a library, I watch
for the people
and the stories they choose

Every day in a library, I see
the books
and the people they chose

Every day in a library, I listen
for the questions
and what they ask

Can I get the pink one?
Can I get the fast one?
Can I get the black one?

Yes, you can get the pink one
Yes, you can get the fast one
Yes, you can get the black one

But with the pink, comes the brown
But with the fast, comes the slow
And the black, comes the rainbow

This is some of what we have been reading. Fiona bingeing on some Cushman, Myles a lovely Arthurian series, and I have been savoring DeJong's poignant childhood tales.

The other day I overheard Myles asking our librarian to request, Shane.  He enjoyed it and I enjoyed having at title lying around that didn't come from me. And the cover was just plain great.


Good for the Elders

A week on the New Jersey shore makes you remember that life is worth living. The water is warm. The waves are adventurous.  And the folks are just that too. We spent our mornings in the salt and sand and every afternoon we made our way to our grandfather's house.  We wandered through the rooms and ran our hands over all the old familiar things. It is the closest thing to a homestead that we have.  Of course I am thankful for our Cambridge apartment, but it doesn't compare to the Lamson farm.  The familiar creaks in the floor boards are like music, and the delicious smell of cedar like perfume.  The pictures of my mother and her sisters still hang at the top of the stairwell. We cousins have gazed at them for as long as we have been alive and the comfort the sight of them brings never wanes.  It makes it easy to pretend that time can stand still. I imagine days when the difficult truths ahead were still unknown and impossible.  And it is hard not to look for our grandmother around the corner.  It seems that I can hear her footsteps somewhere in the next room.
And the stacks of books.  The titles and the stories and the pictures tie me so closely to this place.  There is so much poetry.  The poems of Robert Service always haunted us as children.  Still do.  And so I returned to our home refreshed, exhausted and craving good poetry. I think this is what we will read aloud until school begins.  Robert Frost in his dedication of the book below writes of Belle Moodie Frost:

-Who Knew As A Teacher
That No Poetry Was Good For 
Children That Wasn't Equally 
Good for Their Elders-



"The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning.  The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. ...These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after." -Tuck Everlasting- 

Our library displayed this marvelous quote today and my languished state sighed a deep AMEN in response. I have never read Tuck Everlasting and I plan on correcting that fact this afternoon. Although its almost too hot to read. Almost.

Myles returned home from two weeks of camp happy, exhausted, and penitent. I am enjoying watching him savor his old comforts.   He can't keep his nose out of a book for one thing.  And he is happy about going to bed for another.  Apparently a bit of homesickness was the perfect cure for boyish summer angst. Fiona was home with me hosting family and friends in from overseas. She missed Myles and is marveling his partially subdued state.  It seems like a different brother came home.  One who hugged her upon seeing her and responded enthusiastically as she filled him in on all the things he missed.


Reading in Summer

This summer we long for the days of yore when sharing strawberry soda with your domesticated raccoon was mostly normal. We drink in the ordinary, if not mundane adventures of Rascal and his boy Sterling. It is lovely to sit in the thoughts of this child growing up in Wisconsin, motherless, comforted by his pets and the wild world around him.  Here Sterling tells a bit about his grief of losing his mother.

"It seemed to me unfair that she could not have lived to see the pets I was raising - Rascal especially."

 I appreciate his voice.  I want Myles and Fiona to hear the narrative of a conscience in anguish between how things should be and how things end up.  Loss is all around us and while I don't want to burden my children, I also do not want them to be a stranger to sadness in themselves and in others.
 These thoughts remind me of a favorite picture book by Nan Gregory.  The father in the story, Pink comforts his daughter when her longing for something goes unfulfilled by saying among other words:
 "Wanting things makes great music." 

In August we will head to the land of the Pine Barrens in southern New Jersey. We have rented a cabin at a state park near my mother's childhood home.   In between visits with my grandfather we will soak in the best of the Atlantic ocean. But there is something else that has been added to our wish list thanks to our reading of Rascal. I want the kids to hear their first call of the Whippoorwill.  Read this book and you will join me in that desire. Its impossible not too.

I am devouring this book at the moment.  Again almost for the same reasons. The great chef Ripert talks openly and honestly about his losses on his journey to culinary triumphs. Writing about brokenness and food gets me every time.