I’m currently reading The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird and there’s a kindred spirit who reaches through the years and calls to me as one of her own. Here’s Her Story:
Here is Her Story:
“The Magic Jar”
There is a round, blue jar on our bookcase at home. Once or twice a month I pour the accumulated contents into my hand and count, “50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 82 cents.” Then I grin with satisfaction. That will be enough to buy A Lantern in Her Hand or some other coveted book, which I’ve been wanting for months.
On my shelves are Rolvaag’s Giants in the Earth, a complete “Shakespeare,” Alcott’s Little Women and Little Men, Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles and a volume of modern American poetry, all the results of accumulated pennies.
Pennies may be few, but eventually, if each one is saved there will be enough to buy a good book or magazine. We have our own library, and though it is small the books are of such a nature that they can be read and re-read with enjoyment.
There are those who think that farm women who spend time reading are lazy and “highbrow.” Besides, of what use are storybooks to women who work in the fields and come home to milk the cows? All the more reason, I say, why a farm woman should escape for a few minutes into a make-believe world where her spirit may be eased.
“And go to bed with backward looks
At my dear Land of Storybooks.”
This is a woman after my own heart. I have always saved up money to buy a new book or magazine to entertain myself and I have thousands upon thousands of books up on my shelf. I hope to read each one before my time on this earth is done hoping that the creator hears this and keeps me here long enough to do so.
“Bookworms” last two lines are from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Land of Storybooks, which I have supplied in full below this writing.
As the author writes that people think farm women who spend time reading are lazy and highbrow, I have heard those things in my life, as well. The phrase, “Dianne and her damn books,” was a litany oft refrained as my parents would see me head towards the bookshelves when we shopped. I would hone in on them like a ship to a beacon.
People have said they would rather get out of the house, be active and do things instead of just reading books but they don’t know the life that lives in books and how you share each adventure and misadventure, sadness and despair, love and loss, family and friendship, and laughter and hope one gets from opening the pages and delving into the journey of the lives within. So much life is poured into each book. So many adventures to explore and relive each time one pulls the book down from one’s shelf.
Now that I am older, disabled, have no children of my own, am not independently wealthy, and life with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, my books are my reprieve from a lonely, solitaire life. In them I can swim and dive stories I’ll never live and learn things I never dreamed possible. Reading the words within the pages was so often my shelter in a storm and I cling to them like a drowning woman instead of sinking deeper into the waves of depression, madness, and torment.
Oh, but what adventures I have had, lessons I have learned, friends I have made and lives I have lived inside my books.
The Land of Storybooks
By Robert Louis Stevenson
At evening when the lamp is lit,
Around the fire my parents sit;
They sit at home and talk and sing,
And do not play at anything.
Now, with my little gun, I crawl
All in the dark along the wall,
And follow round the forest track
Away behind the sofa back.
There, in the night, where none can spy,
All in my hunter’s camp I lie,
And play at books that I have read
Till it is time to go to bed.
These are the hills, these are the woods,
These are my starry solitudes;
And there the river by whose brink
The roaring lions come to drink.
I see the others far away
As if in firelit camp they lay,
And I, like to an Indian scout,
Around their party prowled about.
So, when my nurse comes in for me,
Home I return across the sea,
And go to bed with backward looks
At my dear Land of Storybooks.