Wednesday, February 28, 2018

North Wind

The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow
  and what will poor robin do then, poor thing?
He'll sit in a barn and keep himself warm
  and hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

(a poem from a poetry book read many times to our children)

I hope there are no robins in this vicinity. The other evening there was a cold north wind
blowing past our place. I went out to start the car and discovered my doors were all frozen shut.
That happens when one washes a car in winter.
The wind was whistling past my ears as I tried the passenger side door. Just as I realized it was

locked and useless to try I felt my head covering slide off. As I whirled around I saw it light on the

ground and skitter across the icy driveway. The ice kept me from any fancy maneuvers as I watched

it blow ahead of me just out of reach. It flew under Ellis’s pick-up out of sight. I considered my

options and decided to borrow Ellis’s pick-up instead of going inside, heating water and thawing the 

door on my car. When the pick-up was started and warming up I opened the door and stepped out

in the biting wind hoping for one last chance to find my fly-a-way covering. “Oh joy!” there it was,
just a few steps away. It was protected from the wind just enough to stay in place until I reached it,
picked it up and pinned it to my hair.

This episode reminded me of a childhood adventure very similar but with opposite weather.

Picture a pontoon boat on Lake of the Woods in northern MN. Blue sky, puffy clouds, warm sunshine, sea gulls calling to each other as they fought for minnows we tossed high over head. We were a family consisting of Dad, Mom and four giggly, wiggly girls out on the lake enjoying the fishing. A picnic supper of egg salad sandwiches, barbecue chips, a water jug filled with Kool-Aid was a happy way to end this perfect summer evening. About the time Dad was pulling in a nice walleye one of the wiggly girls pointed at a gentle wave not far from the boat. A round, mesh object was softly riding the wave. “That looks like a covering!” she cried. Another girl’s hand flew up to her head. “It is a covering!”

We watched it sink out of sight - laughing hysterically. Clearly we weren't the ones sewing our head coverings at that point in time. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Memories of Williams School

When I was a little girl, coming back to school on a wintery morning after Christmas vacation, my bus driver would always ask me if I'd seen Norma and Sharon and Sid over the holidays. I was so pleased that he knew the names of my aunts and uncle. But how did Russell know their names? When I asked Dad he said, "Russell was our bus driver when we were your age and went to school."

Every year for six years Russell would ask me how my aunts were and how was my Uncle Sid.
But, dense child that I was, somehow I never put two and two together and pictured Norma and Sharon and Sid and my dad walking the same halls I did or sitting in the same classrooms or checking out books from the same library.

How I wish I could go back to that school and go with my class to the library once more. Kindergarten, first, second and third grades were in the "new" wing. When Library Day came we
walked across the gigantic, echoing gym, then into the "old" school and up a wide stair case with a wooden banister to hang on. It was smoothed by hundreds of hands. It was the kind of stairs where you walk up a flight, turn and walk up the next set of steps, then the next and when you get to the top you can look down down down to the floor where you started.

It was the kind of stairs that made you want to run up and down them and maybe slide down the banister too, while you were at it. There is a story Dad told of a time he ran down the stairs pell mell tumble bumble and almost ran into a teacher (or the principal) at the bottom. This person told him to turn around and walk up the stairs and walk back down. Now I caught a faint glimpse of a black haired boy with mischief shining in his eyes turning and marching back up the steps.

On that long ago library day my class would climb the stairs then walk down the hall past the school mascot, a real wolf that was on display in a glass case. What shivers chased up and down our back bones as we tiptoed past then turned and walked into the library.  

I wonder if each of the rooms really had ten foot ceilings and oversized heavy wooden doors or is my memory making everything huge because I was little? It seems like there were windows above the doors that could open or shut as needed for air to circulate. There were lots of windows and fire escapes at the back of the building which we learned to walk down when the fire alarm rang.   

I grew up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and Betsie, Tacy and Tib written by Maud Hart Lovelace. Books about the underground railroad enthralled me. I traveled with pioneers on the Oregon Trail
and went through nursing school with Sue Barton.

Have you ever pictured a book that you read and loved as a child, but now can't remember title or author no matter how hard you try? That has happened to me several times. Recently, well, maybe a few years ago, I tried to remember a fairy tale I used to read. Everyone in the story had white hair, young and old. Everyone had blue eyes. and they lived in a mountainous area. When I described this book to others the general consensus was, "You'll have to remember more about the book before you will find it."

One day, Nancy, the librarian at our local library, and I were talking about books we'd read as children. I told her about the fairy tale I was looking for. She mentioned a website where I might find it. This website listed books in alphabetical order. As I started looking at the beginning I thought, "This could take a long time!" Then suddenly the letter T popped into my mind. I scrolled ahead to the letter T. And there it was. Tatsinda by Elizabeth Enright. I ordered that book off Amazon and gave it to myself for a birthday present or something like that.

Now I need your help. Neither Nancy or I can remember the name of that website. How do you find old books you are looking for? Do you have a favorite website that has worked for you? I would love to hear from you.

One other method is: ask a teenager for help. I mentioned a book to Krysta and described it to her.
Wait a minute - 
          that will be another story for another time.