Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Finally Winter, and Books and Reading

Winter took its time getting to us this year. Until yesterday, when flurries blew around all day, mixing with the sunshine, and then last night temperatures dropped into the teens.

It's about time. I admit, I've enjoyed the long autumn. We had time for lots of cleaning up and putting away, tasks that usually are hard to complete because storytelling keeps me busy and on the road for most of the season. I began to wonder last week if we'd need to get the mower out again because the grass was getting so tall!


An odd thing about this winter is that we have not yet had any juncos, or snowbirds as we call them. There are always flocks of them coming to the feeders but not this winter. Perhaps this cold snap will bring them in.

Winter gives me time for something I love: reading. I often have 3 or 4 or more books in my reading pile, along with several magazines. I like getting up early in winter, when it's still dark outside, and cozying up on the couch or in the rocker with my morning tea (Bewley's Irish Breakfast, please) and my reading. Here's the current reading list:

Ted Kooser's Winter Morning Walks. I know I've written about this book before, but the short, quiet poems written when Kooser was recovering from cancer and taking two-mile, early morning walks in the cold Iowa landscape brings me peace every time I read them. I read one each day, on the dates he wrote them. Here's today's entry:

Eighteen degrees at sunrise.

Hung from the old loading chute
is a lasso of rusty wire,
and caught in the grain of its boards
is a wisp of red hair, and the heavy,
dead knocking of hooves.

See why I like his poetry? Simple, yet filled with much to see and consider.

Comstock's West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia. I am reading through this 50-volume set one book at a time. I use them frequently for research and have read through several of them at various times, but now I am reading them methodically and flagging pages that have topics I will probably want to go back to. These books' downfall is that they are not indexed, so finding information can be tricky. My post-it flags will help. Today's volume included the story of the hole in the Cheat River, and Lemuel Chenoweth, the mane who built many of West Virginia's covered bridges--and a lot more. The set was published in the late 70's and is hard to find. I feel fortunate to have found a complete set about 10 years ago.

The Adventures of Molly Whuppie and Other Appalachian Folktales. These are a modern take on old tales and as entertaining as the Jack tales. These aren't stories I can re-tell because this is copyrighted work, but they sure are a fun read. There is a traditional Molly Whuppie story you can read online at Sacred Texts. It's a great tale of a resourceful young woman.

The Solstice Evergreen by Sheryl Karas. I have known about this book for years but never owned a copy. The series of Christmas stories shared by storytellers included one from Robin Reichert that was published in the Solstice Evergreen, and that reminded me that I needed to get this book. It's an intriguing look at the history, legend and lore of trees, evergreens in particular, leading up to our current Christmas tree tradition.

Goldenseal magazine. West Virginia's journal of folklife is always filled with information about the people and places of our state. The current issue features fiddler Blind Ed Haley among other fine articles.

I was sorting one of our bookshelves last week, trying to make space for a small stereo system, and found books I'd forgotten I had. I had to make some decisions on what to keep and what to send on to a new home, and it wasn't easy! I've been told, "Oh, just check them out at the library! No need to keep copies of all of these old books!" As a retired librarian, I like the sentiment--but most of my books are out of print, and most are copies that have been discarded from libraries so there is no guarantee that a library will actually have these on their shelves.

I'm not an e-book user either, for several reasons. First, internet service here is not great and I have to be careful about data usage on my satellite. My cell phone works sometimes, if I'm in the right spot, but the signal is weak here at home. Second, computers and phones are not permanent--they crash, lose stuff, get replaced, etc. I don't want to have my research library suddenly disappear on me. And third and most important, I just like books. I like the feel of them, the smell, the look of them on shelves and scattered around my house. Eventually I may begin using e-books but physical books will always have a place in my home.

That's my current reading list. What's on your reading table today?

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

3 comments:

Michelle said...

My most favorite recent read was, The Wolfpen Notebooks". I enjoy my winter reading after supper, next to the wood stove. Heaven, for sure.

Granny Sue said...

I have that book, Michelle. James Still is one of my favorite writers!

Susan Anderson said...

I've been reading JoJo Moyes recently. Not my usual type of books, but I'm enjoying them!

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