It's the wonder-full first day of Spring! And this sweet artwork by artist Patrick McDonnell has it all: birds singing, flowers blooming, butterflies butterflying, puppies and kittens doing the happydance together. Plus, it gives me an opportunity to share with you an artist who inspires the heck out of me. I could study his line work until the cows come home.... (sigh)
Here at Tumbledown, all is in pleasant chaos. Some would say I'm spring cleaning, but I'm not sure that's it. I'm in a state of flux, inside and out.
Since I wrote last I've been knee deep in books. Still. Only this time I'm culling and organizing the herd, making space, rediscovering old faves and unearthing books I didn't know I even had. Hours and days and weeks have passed during this time and I've been happy to let them. This needed doing and it's pleasantly clearing my head.
And anyway, I'll get back to it. But I wanted you to know I'm still here, I haven't forgotten about you, and I hope you're enjoying this fabulous First Day of Spring!
PLEASE check out more of Mr. McDonnell's work here and sign up to receive a daily Mutts email that will put his delightful and heartfelt art in your in-box every dang day. What a sweet way to start the day, right? :)
I can't write two words without one of them being about books, can I? But today I've got a great excuse: Yesterday was World Book Day in the UK and Ireland, and today is NEA's Read Across America. Two very good reasons to write about curling up with an old favorite or a new discovery.
In case you hadn't noticed, here at Tumbledown EVERY day is Book Day. And you wouldn't have to get far inside my front door to have that all figured out. Books take center stage here. They cover all horizontal surfaces. They stand two- and sometimes three-deep on the shelves. They're stacked waist high on each available stair step. There's a tower of them tottering within inches of my side of the bed. They concern the heck out of my parents, who I'm sure imagine my body one day being unearthed from beneath a stack of them, squashed completely but with a smile on my face. And, for the record, it's not unusual to find more than one copy here of my personal faves.... It's like I'm saving them from something. Giving them a good home. OK, hoarding maybe, but let's not call it that, 'k? At least not in a paragraph that includes my folks who would love to see me admit it in writing.
Do you remember the books from your childhood, the ones that paved the way for a lifetime of book love?
An older neighborhood friend of mine took 6-year-old me to a book sale at her school and I used the 30-cents in my pocket to purchase two grade-school readers: The Wishing Well and Three Friends. I read them up, down, and sideways, and studied the watercolor illustrations until my eyes fell out of my head. I still have those books. And rereading them now takes me back a million years....
And I can recall a spring weekend in Third Grade spent curled up with Felix Salton's Bambi, gleaned from a shelf in the Monroe Elementary School library that the Librarian there cautioned me I was still too young to read from. A chapter away from the ending I stopped and had a good cry. My mom discovered me and asked about my tears. I said, "Have you ever read a book so good that you didn't want it to end?"
And then there was Enid Bagnold's National Velvet, read semi-annually since the day I first discovered horses until the day I first discovered boys (and picked up again almost immediately, as horses were way more interesting -- :->). I learned to draw from its illustrations. I learned to love England from its text. I dreamed of being Velvet Brown and even wrote away to the stewards of the Grand National for race maps and particulars. I learned to like tea with milk and loads of sugar.
I didn't make friends with Louisa May Alcott or Lucy Maud Montgomery or discover The Secret Garden until I was a young adult, all married and away from home. They nurtured my soul when my soul desperately needed nurturing, and I think they were put in my hands at just the right time. (And I'm still a little embarrassed recalling the moment a co-worker walked into the office and caught 20-something me at my coffee break, sobbing over Little Women's 'Beth.')
I taught myself to read as a child, then read the days and weeks and months and years away. I do so still, and can think of no other way I'd rather spend my time. It even trumps drawing (but only just). And, in case you haven't already guessed, I could bore you forever with my fond book-related memories. SO -- I'll simply end here and ask:
Leap Day did a number on us here in the Village. It definitely wanted to be noticed. It was!
After a night of heavy rain on Tuesday, all turned to snow; snow that was gorgeous but amazingly difficult to shovel. I rarely regret not having a working snowblower, but about the time my arms were falling off I was giving one some serious dang thought. Returning inside afterward to the comfiness of my chair and the promise of hot tea and a good book was especially appreciated.
And now today I'm feeling the effects of that bout with the storm. I only thought I'd been victorious! Threading my arms into my coat sleeves this morning was 'interesting,' to say the least. But all felt better once I ventured outside and greeted the day.
My usual route was compromised by puddles and plow trails and meant navigating lawns deep in snow just to get to the street proper to begin my walk. Ankle-deep water rushed along both curbs on its way to the storm drain, bubbling and whirlpooling there as it overwhelmed the narrow grates. Leaping over it all just wasn't in the cards for me, sore as I was....
Branches overhead -- still heavy with snow -- occasionally dropped slush in my path, and off in the distance droned the buzz of a chainsaw as the occasional homeowner dealt with old tree limbs unable to bear the weight of it all. It made for an interesting walk: in spite of the chaos left by the winter storm, all was white and pristine and made brilliant by the sunshine and singing birds. Even the chainsawers in their flannel shirts and rolled-up sleeves seemed to smile as they went about their work.
I rescued leaves rushing by in the torrent. I took pictures of an already melting fort dug from a sodden snow bank by school kids happy to call yesterday a Snow Day. I greeted a man shoveling waves of water down his driveway. I dodged snow 'bombs' and soaked up the sun. I smiled.
Smiled. Smiled smiled smiled.
Doesn't sound like much, I know, but this face noticed and was monumentally grateful.