Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Summer Miscellany

It was a summer of books and tomatoes.

Books first. (Does this reflect my priorities?)

By far the best and most encouraging book of the season was The Lighted Heart by Elizabeth Yates. I have always enjoyed her books, and can appreciate them more than ever, now that I know some of her life story. Early in their marriage, her husband found that, after suffering weak eyes for many years, he would soon become blind. Wanting to make the most of the last remaining sighted months, Elizabeth and Bill moved to a secluded New England farm. During that first year, they made many special memories together as they restored the old farmhouse, cleared the land, planted a garden, and tapped their maple trees. When Bill did eventually lose his sight, they found new challenges ahead, but never lost the joy of living.

In telling her story, Ms. Yates did not gloss over the fact that life is filled with trials, and perhaps this is why I found the book so compelling. The troubles were not seen as roadblocks, but rather as opportunities. One thing I have always admired in Elizabeth Yates’ writing is her ability to describe her characters’ world so that it seems as real in my mind as it must have been in her own. Knowing that her husband was blind gives me insight into how she perfected this skill.

Do Butlers Burgle Banks? Of course they do…at least in this title by P.G. Wodehouse. Sadly, the promising storyline falls flat. No zip, no verve…no hilarious conversations—all things I have come to expect of this author. Perhaps he was at his best when writing about the characters he knew best. Very Good, Jeeves! bears this out. It is almost hard to believe that it was written by the same author.

I don’t always read normal books. Sometimes a good picture book is a refreshing alternative. Like the The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood Since my little sister received it as a baby, it has become one of our most favorite read-aloud books. Bright pictures, a cute storyline, and few words (always a plus!) make it a quite fun to read, especially with one or two small children in your lap.
A new find in children’s books this year was Wait til the Moon is Full by Margaret Wise Brown. It is a good example of the use of repetition.

I love the art of N.C. Wyeth. So of course I was excited to see The Collected Paintings, Illustrations and Murals in a stack of books my dad brought home from the library. Like Norman Rockwell, Wyeth’s paintings always tell a story.

And then there was The Magic of M.C. Escher. If you haven’t seen his prints, look some up. They will amaze you. He was big into optical illusion and the mathematical side of art.

If I do a book by book description, this will become the long instead of short summary. So I’ll move on to the tomatoes. And other vegetables. You can’t make salsa without ‘em. A joint effort on the part of my family to preserve summer’s bounty for a later date concluded with the sight of cabinets filled with jars of salsa, spaghetti sauce, peach jam, apple butter and other tasty things. As you can see by the picture, I don’t always have my nose in a book!

And so concludes the short summary of a short summer. The family school is back into session, and I’m helping by teaching history, writing, vocabulary, music and logic. I will attempt the occasional blog post… but until I figure out a better “schedule” (horrors!), my posting may be quite sporadic.


Lydia H. said...

Sounds like an enjoyable summer! I, too, hope to post a recap of my summer activities complete with photos. I have been thinking on more weighty matters lately. Hope to see you soon, Lord willing.

Kara Dekker said...

"I have been thinking on more weighty matters lately"

Who hasn't? But once in a while I take a break...otherwise my head would burst... ;)