I grew up with a love of reading. Often, my favorite gift for birthday or Christmas was a book...most often, a book about horses. During summer vacations from school, I would walk to the library and check out the maximum number of books allowed...eight at that time...with a return date two weeks out. My dad once made me take back all but two of the books, saying that I needed to spend some time outdoors during my summer break.
I credit my mother with building that love of reading in me, starting with reading stories to me before I could read on my own. I still remember a story that Mom used to read to me about a man who had a blanket that was too short for his bed. Since his feet were sticking out, he decided to cut some fabric from the top of the blanket and sew it onto the bottom. Even at my young age, I knew that wasn't going to work.
And then there was the story of the Ugly Duckling. I always identified with that one. And the one about the dog that had a bone in his mouth when he went to the pond to get a drink. When he looked into the water, he saw another dog with a bigger bone. So he dropped his bone into the water with the intent of taking the bigger bone away from the other dog, which, of course, was actually his own reflection.
As I write this, I'm remembering so many of those old fairy tales and am getting the urge to go out and buy a set of them for myself. Is that a sign of senility? Oh dear. I hope not. There are enough signs of that already.
With all my reading, though, I never really "got" poetry.
But then this lovely little book came into my life. I think it had belonged to my mother. It's a book of poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. One cold wintry day, I picked this book off the shelf and read Evangeline. It was beautiful. A compelling story of enduring love and heartache.
There is no dust jacket on this book. That beautiful design on the cover is...well...on the cover.
Inside is an inscription which says, "Merry Christmas...1903...Herbert Campbell. I don't know who Herbert Campbell was or to whom the book was given on that Christmas 107 years ago. My mother wouldn't have been born yet at that time, so maybe the book had belonged to her mother. I'll probably never know; but, for now, the book is a treasure on my bookshelf.
I still can't say that I love or understand poetry, but I do love Evangeline. I think it's time to read it again.