Wistful: Children’s books vs. Reality
Sometimes, I wonder what God has in mind for me, since He gave me a heart to love the things I do, which are in mighty short supply in the desert: water, flora, and fauna.
There is life here in the Sonoran Desert. There are animals, a few. And there are plants, hardy and prickly though they may be. But there sure isn’t much water.
I’ve always longed for greener pastures, literally.
But, God gave me a husband who is a native of this hot, dry, brown Valley of the Sun, and I’ve adjusted my expectations of what might be lying just around the corner, waiting for me.
Acadia National Park is not. Nor the Oregon coast. Not even the Mississippi bluff area of western Illinois, where my maternal grandparents had their farm, and — which I recently heard with a yelp of joy — which my Uncle Allyn is farming a bit of, again, with his recovering health.
There are days as I look out at the landscape of 100+ days of 100°+ when I am tempted to despair, and my heart just longs for cooler, greener climes.
So, I pull out a picture book and read to one of my little girls.
Today, my oldest nephew’s girlfriend and I were having a mostly-joking Facebook conversation about her moving (or the two of us taking a road trip) to Maine. She was up for just about anywhere on the upper reaches of the northeastern United States, but I steered her to Maine.
In my possession, since before any of my children could read, have been three hardcovers, each of which I have loved since my own childhood. Blueberries for Sal, One Morning in Maine, and Time of Wonder, each written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey. I freely admit that I can never refuse a sturdy two-year-old toddling with binky inserted, trailing her blankie, barely grasping a picture book, half her size, who pipes up with the hopeful query, “Mowneen i’ Maine??”
For those of you unfamiliar, please check out the books from your local library, or buy them. Now. Please.
The books show the progression of the author’s family in the 1950s (when they were written) which spent summers in Maine. They have beautiful illustrations and apt prose, which shows exactly how adept McCloskey was at thinking with a child’s mind, and seeing with a child’s eyes.
After the Facebook conversation, I read Time of Wonder to Fiala, before her nap. Looked at the pictures, more than actually read, as Time of Wonder, the Caldecott Medal winner for 1957, is told in second person, and has a more “grown up” prose than the first two books about Sal and Jane. It shows both girls, aged about 12 and 8, “manning” their own rowboat and small sailboat (sans life jackets), jumping from rocks along the cove with a bevvy of other children, and weathering a hurricane with their parents, partly by sing-shouting The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
The book mentions several specific place names, which — as I have done on several other occasions — I Googled, to find their location on a map, and pictures as lovely as the illustrations in the book. And — yet again — I longed for a visit to Acadia National Park, which is in the same exact area as the setting for the trio of McCloskey books. This time, I found myself especially taken with the sites at Duck Harbor Campground on the minuscule Isle au Hait, described as rugged, remote, inaccessible to automobiles, primitive… combined with 18 miles of hiking trails, it seems like my kind of place, exactly. McCloskey’s, too. 🙂
Out of curiosity, as I read
…through the fog you hear Harry Smith over at Blastow’s Cove start the engine of his lobster boat and go out to pull his traps.
I wondered if Harry Smith was a real man. He was. I found myself sad to read that one Harry Smith, of Little Deer Island, Maine, was buried in the Blastow’s Cove Cemetery in 1957. It must have been not long after Time of Wonder was published.
I found myself also remembering the incomparable Calico Bush, whose author, Rachel Field, often wrote poetry, apparent in her Newbery Honor prose. Calico Bush is set off of the coast of Mount Desert Island, which is home to most of Acadia National Park.
Suddenly, this sounds very familiar.
[I do a little search on my own blog and come up with THIS POST from February of 2010.]
My memory is short, but at least I’m consistent, eh?I guess my point of this point — similar to the last one on the very same subject — is how I just don’t know how to sort all of these thoughts. I mean, I know that allowing myself to indulge in discontentment is dangerous. Letting it sit and percolate in my mind is unwise; I can easily become really unhappy about just about anything, any situation, and anyone in my life if I allow myself to go there. So, I don’t. I don’t live in Maine, and can’t conceive of anything that would lead us to Maine, and I think it would 100% be a fruitless and frustrating endeavor to try to figure out how we could or why we don’t have a summer house on a private island in Maine, like McCloskey’s family did.
But, on the other hand… my Father God created me with a love for that particular kind of beauty, and a wistful longing for that sort of slowed-down, simple life, living in community, surrounded with an achingly beautiful piece of His creation. Did He do that for nothing? I mean, did He make my heart to love that so, for no purpose, or just to teach me the Godly discipline of not allowing myself to become frustrated and discontented? Possibly, but I don’t think so. I hope not.
Last year about this time, I was dreaming of taking a trip there, someday soon, paid for by the thousands of dollars I’d make, writing. I have made some, but, golly! In order to MAKE money writing, you have to have the TIME to devote to it, and fit into someone else’s agenda. That part was less successful. I’ve had a few other offers for employment in writing, but it’s just not fair to any perspective client to hire me, then to have me perpetually be unavailable, even if that makes any Maine trip tarry.
My hubby works with a guy, though, who has a house in Maine… Hmm… Maybe I should find out where, exactly, that house is… Thinking, thinking… I don’t think my hubby would consider that appropriate. I’m sure he’s right.
One way, though, or another… but it has to be the right way, in the right time. I *KNOW* that; it’s just hard to adjust my thoughts on the matter, especially as these visions dance in my head.