Tuesday, March 17, 2009

About a Book and in Defense of Rain...

Spring rains in my neck of the woods.
Photo from MichaelTotten.com.

Since I sort of half-complained about the rain yesterday, I think I shall sing its praises today. (But I'm still glad to be going tomorrow where the sun shines most of the time!)

I've mentioned before that I love rain. In fact, I've mentioned it more than once. Some of you may even remember the sweet poem I posted on my blog, not once, but twice before: "Who loves the rain and loves his home and looks on life with quiet eyes...," but I'm not going to go looking for those posts right now. You can just take my word for it that they're there. :-)

Last night I finished reading an enjoyable book called Dear Mad'm by Stella Walthall Patterson. It was written in the 1950's after Stella moved (when she was 80-something-years-old) to live alone in a very remote mining cabin in a rugged area along the Klamath River in the Siskiyou Mountains of northern California. Her plan was to live in quiet solitude for awhile, but it worked out not to be totally that way.

By the end of the story, this woman had come to know and love the people who lived in the remote places around her, and she found a sense of purpose among them. Her relatives wanted her to move back to San Francisco, but she realized that their intention was to look after her and care for her and give her every comfort, when all she wanted was to be needed and for her life to have purpose and meaning, something she found living among the people in these remote mountains. (We all need a sense of purpose and meaning, at any age, wherever we are.)

The book is not as well written as Letters of a Homesteader Woman, but, like Letters... it's light in spirit, a bit adventurous from time to time, and fun to read. And being (sort of) set in the region where I live (if you give the word "region" a bit of a stretch-- because out in the rural west, "nearby" can mean an hour or two or even more away) made this extra fun reading.

I may have you wondering how this is a defense of rain. Well, it isn't yet, but there is a passage about early spring rains in the book that warmed me with recognition. I could have written the words myself:

"We get a good deal of rain in the Siskiyous during the winter and early spring, with now and then a light snow. So our mountains are beautifully green, and the many springs and lovely streams pour their bright waters in to the might Klamath all the year round. But a rainy day in our mountains is as beautiful in its way as a sunny one. Wisps of filmy cloud drift among the great pines and cling here and there to the peaks. The evergreens glisten with moisture and the madrone trunks and limbs return to burnished copper. The close, intimate sound of rain on the tight walls and roof of a cabin has an unalloyed charm when inside there is warmth, the comfort of an old chair that creaks companionably when you move, books both old and new, and an adoring dog. How could anyone wish for more?"

On days like that, indeed! Reading snuggly in my comfy chair by the crackling woodstove while rains pelts the windows and pounds the roof, and, yes, even with an adoring dog at my feet, how could I wish for more? (I must say, though, that spring snows falling quietly and gently or blowing sideways in the howling wind and piling up in soft drifts makes for a nice before-the-fire reading setting, too.)

The book next in line (waiting to be started this evening) for this category of my daily reading is the memoir Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish. This book received high praise when released, including being named one of the top 10 books of the year (it was published in 2007) in the New York Times Book Review. I'd never heard of Little Heathens, but I ran across it in a bookstore recently and thought it sounded just like something I'd enjoy. I'll let you know.

I hope you're reading something good, too, and appreciating whatever weather early spring is bringing your way. Sunshine lifts the spirits for sure, but showers bring flowers! It's a hopeful season, no matter which way you look at it.

Sorry I don't have time to post book links!