Floor refinishing this week required that I exit our premises at 7:30 each morning. Any room not scheduled for sanding and polishing was crammed with furniture, and between that and the fumes, home wasn’t an optimum place. When I wasn’t at work, I camped out at the library. My laptop is struggling, so it remained behind. I’m not great at typing on the I-pad, but I brought notebooks and pens. I thought I’d spend the time writing.
Instead, I sat in one of the club chairs situated in front of a Palladian window, propped my feet up on an ottoman and lost myself in a book I first read when I was a teenager. Since the house was pretty much off limits except for sleeping, I didn’t feel guilty about the laundry. I couldn’t cook, and rain meant any thought of gardening was a bust, so I let myself go and lost myself in the story. It reminded me of way back, when as a child, I’d ride my bike down to the library to pick out a novel, and spend the afternoon curled up there, reading.
There are so many arguments in regard to books vs. e-books—but when it comes down to it—I don’t care, as long as there is a public place dedicated to reading, and stories that stand the proverbial test of time—and the book that captivated me this week does that in spades. My Friend Flicka, by Mary O’Hara is as well written and sweeping and emotional as any book I’ve read lately— in my mind, it’s not a children’s book at all. With complex relationships, amazing description and unexpected plot twists, it works for all readers.
Perhaps it has even more depth for having been written in 1941. O’Hara’s writing is so compelling that I feel completely at home in the Wyoming farmhouse, where Ken’s mother Nell, skins rabbits, bakes bread daily and walks to the spring house to get cream—and from which his father Rob has to drive for hours to seek out the doctor when his son gets ill. (In truth this was the one spot when I thought, “sure wish he had a cell phone!”)
This book has all the “can’t put it down” qualities as you could ask for, whether you happened to be banished from home, or are reading from the comfort of your own couch. Today, my house still reeks of varnish. I am kneeling on a pillow as I type this—I’m still not allowed to place a chair on the floor in front of the computer. Nonetheless, thanks to my chosen reading material, I’d call the past few days, well, lovely.
Today there is plenty of laundry and gardening and chores to do and I'll get to them at some point. But, I finished My Friend Flicka yesterday. I know I shouldn't have, but I went to the bookshelf and pulled out the sequel, Thunderhead, this morning.
What was your favorite childhood read?