We went to the States with five suitcases - three of them empty. What did we bring back? Books, books, books! C, Will and I each built our own mountain, though as C said, she's willing to share with me if I will share with her. Most of my stack came from our old collection, which I bring over bit by bit each year, but I did bring some newbies (marked * below) home too.
Now that the dust has settled and jet lag disappeared, I'm on a great rereading kick and just finished Treasure Island last night. Have you read it lately? When I was a child I was a bit terrified by the book, and the pictures made me shiver with delighted fear (illustrated by N.C. Wyeth, the paintings tell a vivid story by themselves). But after reading all the Patrick O'Brian books, and the even more gruesome Matty Graves novels, Treasure Island seems much more pacific to me these days and I only had to turn the lights up high a few times in my midnight readings.
Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger Middlemarch Part 1 & 2, George Eliot Mr. Darcy's Dream*, Elizabeth Aston Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray Agent Zigzag, Ben Macintyre* Pon Top Edisto Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle, Ellen Gilchrist A Working Girl Can't Win, Deborah Garrison The English Patient, Michael Ondattje Drawing for Children, Mona Brookes Audubon, Robert Penn Warren Misty of Chincoteague, Marguerite Henry Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson Swan Lake, Mark Helprin An Incomplete Revenge, Jacqueline Winspear* Johns Island* Burning Bright, Tracy Chevalier* Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame The Riverside Chaucer Treasury of Art Nouveau Design & Ornament
After a week of weather forecasts calling for dreary with a chance of more dreary, the sun decided to pay a surprise visit to our neck of the continent today. Caroline, home from school with a cold, thinks its timing is all off, and has retired to her shaded room with a stack of books to flip through before her next nap/snack/game of Uno. James, on the other hand, thinks the sun is great. Here he is playing peek-a-boo with the light.
He's not always this smiley of course, and at nearly ten months has developed definite ideas about what he should be able to do. Climbing off furniture, hanging out with me, and playing with every toy that C shows an interest in are top priorities right now. Last night before C's cold struck, she and Will practiced sword fighting in the play room. They closed the doors to ward off the noise, but mostly succeeded in offending James considerably. Abandoning me to my book he crawled across the living room to bang on the doors and shout until he was let in and given another sword* to chew on while he watched.
*Lego makes great foam swords which Will and Caroline use to practice fencing with.
Live oaks don't lose their luster in the fall. Southern Live Oaks, or Quercus virginia hold onto their leaves until spring and shed them just before their new crop arrives. They're very sturdy trees - they may drop their branches in a hurricane but rarely get uprooted and seem to thrive in lots of different soils. Left to themselves, they can live a long time. One of the oaks on my family's farm has a trunk equal to its cousin in size, the famous Angel Oak. The City of Charleston estimates that the Angel is over 1400 years old. We suspect the family oak has seen a lot of summers pass by too.
Live oaks remind me of some of the best parts of my childhood and driving down a road covered by an oak tunnel of branches and Spanish Moss sends me back to summer and that carefree feeling I used to get when I knew that ahead of us waited a dozen cousins, late night card games, all the tomatos, shrimp, and m&ms we could eat and a bookcase full of Readers Digest Condensed Books to catch up on.
I used to try to draw the oaks too, and my grandmother still has one rendition hanging up in her dining room. Every time I visit her, I see it and think that I need to try again. So each trip to the Island finds me taking dozens of pictures to use as models. This year, this was one of my favorites and I think I'm going to use it as the basis for my next try. Details to come.
The house is quiet - everyone else is sleeping off jet lag while I organize pictures and review the unbelievable evidence that, yes, we just were basking in the sun a mere few days ago! Time to slip in a blog post and resume my usual blogging activities (thanks BB and Ellen for the motivation ;-).
From the top, clockwise 1. Caroline lays out a picnic blanket, preparing for cousins! 2. C tries out the Yorktown's captain chair in Charleston SC. 3. C and James after J's baptism, just last Sunday. 4. C walks down an oak alley at my family's farm. 5. James smiles for the camera.
If I'm not working or hanging out with our 10 year old while a bouncy 5 year old dances around us, there's a good chance I'll be hammering away on our piano, reading a book or trying to sketch. I live in Prague, Czech Republic and hail from the U.S. South.