One of my fondest memories from my childhood was the summer Dad packed us all up in the car, us being my mother, sister and brother, and drove us to Alexandria, Minnesota to a cabin on the lake. We lived in Worthington then. A retired couple from his church invited us for a weekend and so, Dad bundled us into the stationwagon and we journeyed to Alexandria to spend a weekend fishing, building campfires, singing "kum by ya" and relaxing, generally.
It was a beautiful setting. The lake was so clear I could see to the bottom of it as Dad rowed the boat around the lake, picking out colored rocks, watching the little fish scurry about. The weather was fine, the sky was a pristine blue. We caught plenty of fish and fried them over an open fire with potatoes and onions every night. The summer cabin was a square white structure with big multipaned windows (complete with window seats, I might add), a multipaned door that stepped out onto a plank walk that led down to the slip. It was a perfect summer spot.
But, about the books.
I no longer have a clear memory of the husband of the retired couple who invited us. His wife, however, I will never forget and it may be her in part who fostered my love of books and maybe a few of my eccentricities too.
It could have been her hair, the wild orange curls that flew about her head as she marched around. Her glasses, the way they were always hanging at the end of her freckled nose. Maybe it was the blue and black paisley caftan and sandals she wore for most of the weekend, or the bangles that went nearly to her elbows. Perhaps it was the idea that she had better things to do than clean house. Or maybe, it was the piles and stacks of books, magazines, newspapers, periodicals of every kind, that took up every square inch of space in that vacation home. I mean it when I say walking room only. The place was a paradise. How lucky was I to have been dropped into a virtual literary treasure trove.
The only thing she said to me about books was, "Read. Read everything." But that was enough. The image of that little white cabin, filled to the rafters with reading material, will never dim.
What brought you and books together?