Monday, May 28, 2012

A Book Connects Me To A Good Memory

The Tuesday Slice of Life Is Hosted Weekly by Stacey and Ruth at their blog, Two Writing Teachers.  Head over and treat yourself to some good writing!  



            Yesterday I wrote about books that I read last week for the Meme, It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?  One of the parts I wrote discussed Because of Winn Dixie, by Kate Dicamillo.  I listened to the audio book this time, which made my trips to and from work and appointments, etc.  quite a pleasure, particularly because I connected to memories of my childhood while listening.  I wrote: those of you who live now in a small town or who have lived in one at some time in your lives and who have read the book will understand the connection I made with this.  I lived in a small town until I was in 7th grade, and spent time with eccentric old women (sometimes couples) just visiting, looking at their gardens, eating baked goods and drinking sweet tea on their front porches, and enjoying the visit.  They had stories to tell, like in this book.  I know that others might think it was a little far fetched, but it is not.  There are people like that everywhere.  It’s just that in small towns, we seem to be able to get to know them. 

I visited many people all over town, especially in the summertime, when the living for children during that time was definitely easy.  I took no lessons, but entertained myself in different ways with friends, playing various kinds of board games in the heat of the afternoon, creating clubs that met under huge shrubs that made terrific secret places, and climbing trees with limbs large enough to offer a comfortable place to read, and finally visiting. There were lots of people to visit, including family. Most of these people were older, some childless, therefore no grandchildren, and some whose spouse had died.  Some had never married. They were lonely perhaps, and frequent visitors were welcome.


Not the real house, but close, just no stone pillars.  I couldn't find one with square pillars built of stone in the manner of a stone fence.

In my little town, my parents and I lived across the street from a woman named Mrs. Miller.  She was a widow and lived in a bungalow-type house--large porch on the front with those stone pillars connecting the railing.  It sat on a large lot filled with both flower and  vegetable gardens.  I visited with her nearly every morning that I could.  We walked through the gardens as she pointed out this flower and that flower, and certain vegetables.  She explained what they were, how to care for them, and their provenance.  Did you know that plants carry a provenance?  They mostly had been taken from plants of other friends’ or family members’ gardens, and transplanted.  Mrs. Miller would tell me how important it was to look carefully at the plants from other gardens, to choose the strongest ones, in color of both leaves and flowers, with just a sturdy look.  In other words, certain gardens weren’t necessarily the ones to “take” from. 
Later in the summer, we might choose some of the blooms, just at their peak, ready to fill the rose crystal vase that sat in Mrs. Miller’s front hall on a round table.  Yes, it sat on a lacy doily.  This vase, she would remind me, had belonged to her grand Aunt Gertie, who made everyone crazy in her ways of spending too much on her things when she lived only in an unremarkable and tiny house in another little town nearby.  She had no need of rose crystal vases, many thought.  Yet Mrs. Miller told me that she had loved her Aunt Gertie, and enjoyed visiting with her in that tiny house with the beautiful things.  Her aunt, Mrs. Miller told me, considered that it was a way of living fine.  If you must have only a few things, they must be the best.  Hence, the strongest provenance for her plants.
       I talked of other things with my neighbor, and each time I visited, after our walk through her gardens, we sat down to lemonade and coffee cake, both homemade that morning, two of Mrs. Miller’s “fine” things.   We sat and chatted till the sun circled toward mid morning.  Now that I remember this, I consider that it is one of the ‘fine’ things in my life. I am appreciative of Kate Dicamillo’s beautiful writing of Because of Winn Dixie because it helped me remember a happy time in my childhood.





photo credit: roarofthefour via photo pin cc

44 comments:

  1. Now that we are entering the hot, lazy days of summer your reflection is especially timely. I loved reading "Because of Winn Dixie" and enjoyed reading the memories it stirred in you. I hope some of this still happens because I want to be one of the old ladies that children visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me, too, & I do talk with some of the kids in our cul de sac during good weather, but it's not quite the same.

      Delete
  2. I just loved this ramble through your childhood summer days, especially when you paused to describe sweet moments and special people like Mrs. Miller. How fabulous that Winn Dixie took you back to this golden time, Linda, and thanks for sharing the memories this book brought back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems to me that book talks could include these connections a little bit for students. I know they are a part of comprehension, but sometimes it takes a back seat to other reading skills. To me the connection is valuable to make the book scenes more alive. Thanks Tara.

      Delete
  3. Wow, just beautiful. I can visualize Mrs. Miller's house. What an interesting lady and what wonderful memories you have. I love when books can call that up for us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Katherine. I love hearing about your small town and all the connections you have in it. It is a different way of living.

      Delete
  4. I can' find the exact quote I'm thinking of, but in Inkspell by Cornelia Funke, the character Mortimer says something books getting fatter with each reading because of the memories we find there. This story of yours is a perfect example. What a wonderful slice, reading your childhood memories. And, living in a small town, I never doubted any of the characters I found in Winn-DIxie. THey all seemed pretty true to life to me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad to hear you talk about your town, Deb, and that quote sounds wonderful. I will look it up today. Thank you.

      Delete
  5. Ooh, I want to know that quote about the books getting fatter! I love this story, Linda. Everyone should have a Mrs. Miller or two tucked away in her memory. My sister and I have often said if we outlive our husbands we are totally shacking up together to sit on a porch and watch the world go by. We learned a lot from our grandmother and great aunt -- sisters who loved each other and gardened and birdwatched and talked to children like they were adults through their whole long lives. That's what your Mrs. Miller memory brought to me. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The quote does sound wonderful, doesn't it? Being with your sister in your older years sounds delicious. My brother and I actually talk sometimes about moving nearer each other. He visited certain ones too & we both understand about that porch sitting. You captured one thing I had forgotten, Irene, that we were talked to like adults, i.e., welcome visitors no matter the age. I agree.

      Delete
  6. "There are people like that everywhere. It’s just that in small towns, we seem to be able to get to know them." I especially liked this quote, Linda! I have met the most interesting older people from living near them and going over to visit.

    My mom was telling me yesterday about an upcoming gardening festival at Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's home)--talk about plants with an interesting provenance!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wouldn't that be delightful, to go to see people talk about the plants at Monticello! I agree about the visiting; just takes time and talk! Thanks, Tabatha.

      Delete
  7. What a special memory you have shared. I was right there with you in the garden listening to Mrs. Miller explain the provenance of the plants. Books/stories are magical when they have the power to transport us to another place and time. Loved your details!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Elsie. This was certainly a labor of love, to visualize that time and place.

      Delete
  8. I love how a book inspired your slice today. I love catching glimpses into your past.
    Ruth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Ruth. It is often so serendipitous, reading a passage, then realizing I am thinking about something I have lived. Dicamillo's books are like that.

      Delete
  9. Your imagery in this is beautiful... so vivid and clear! Really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Because of Winn Dixie was such an inspirational book for me. It's wonderful when we can allow ourselves to have literacy take us on an unexpected journey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a terrific book & I'm so glad to have re-visited it. It's interesting that when I read it before, I vaguely remember just getting it done so I could pass it on to a student. This time was different, maybe because of the voices?

      Delete
  11. What a beautiful memory! Growing up in the suburbs (and at a different time, where I only ventured out to close friends' houses!), I never got an opportunity like that. All my neighbors were young families with kids just about my age... and if they weren't, I didn't have anything to do with them. The bond you built between your generations sounds really neat. (In fact, that's one of the many things I enjoy about slicing! When I read and share stories with you, elsie, and so many others, it's kind of like I'm sitting on your front porch, drinking your lemonade.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda, thank you for the walk through small town life and many moments of my childhood in small town, USA. There are such treasures that come from that kind of community and you have captured them here.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Jennifer and Dana. My chldren grew up in the suburbs too, & really only visited neighbors we knew. Small towns offer more freedom I guess, at least they did when I was growing up.

      Delete
  12. My boys loved the book "Because of Winn Dixie;" I loved reading it with them, years back. What lovely memories the book triggered for you! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome, Maureen. I'm glad you enjoyed the book with your children. I'm going to save it for my granddaughter when she's older!

      Delete
  13. I have yet to ever listen to a book on audio, I think that should be on my to-do list this summer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was really fun & I now have a few more to do. Hope you try it!

      Delete
  14. Oh! You reminded me of an old neighbor I used to visit as a child. I would bake her cookies and sometimes even bring friends over to visit with her as well. What a lovely memory to evoke. Kate DiCamillo triggered your memory and you triggered mine! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How great is that, Christy. I'm glad you've had the same nice experience!

      Delete
  15. Mrs. Miller reminds me of my grammie (especially after my granpa and aunt passed away)! She used to talk to all the neighbor kids and show and tell them about the flowers and plants in the gardens. Roses were her favorites...and then there was cookie, the llama that lived behind her on the farm...he's another story! Thanks for sharing...I don't remember reading Winn Dixie before-so I am adding it to my list for summer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's so exciting to hear about all these stories, Amy. I hope you'll tell about that llama sometime. And be sure to read Winn Dixie!

      Delete
    2. Grandma and Cookie-maybe that'll be my next slice-it's funny!

      Delete
  16. Mine was Mrs. Hamlin. She made the best pickled cucumber slices that were a labor of love. I remember walking up her long driveway that felt like it stretched forever through the woods and would pick wildflowers to give her on my way. We would sit on her back porch that overlooked the river that flowed through her backyard and there we would watch the hummingbirds and butterflies make their rounds. A lovely time, a lovely place, a lovely book. So glad you revisited that story and your memory. Listening to books in the car is a great way to pass the time, it is one of my favorite new things! My kids are loving it too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a wonderful memory for you, too, Betsy. It sounds heavenly to visit there. I'm glad you are liking the audio too. It's been really fun!

      Delete
  17. This is a great story Linda. I enjoyed hearing about the connections you made to this book. My son is reading this book in his classroom right now. I've never read it but have added it to my summer reading list...my how it is growing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Robin. I'm glad you liked the story, & hope your son loves the book. My list is growing too. I helped our librarian today shelve books & I checked out some more for me! I am determined to read and read this summer!

      Delete
  18. Love this. Books are truly amazing in bringing forth memories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right, Jone. I think that every book makes me think of something else. Awesome, those writers!

      Delete
  19. Linda, your writing made me really miss those summers...even in the suburbs we did some of the same things...I really related to this line: creating clubs that met under huge shrubs that made terrific secret places, and climbing trees with limbs large enough to offer a comfortable place to read...I loved it, I did it and then I watched my Em (now 29) find those secret spots in the neighborhood. Next spot...for me...grabbing Winn Dixie for more happiness. Thank you for the beautiful post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Nanc. I remember talking about the shrub stuff with students who lived in old neighborhoods & they said they sat under them often, hiding out from whomever, or playing hide 'n seek. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, & hope you like Winn Dixie as much as I did.

      Delete
  20. I love this book and Kate DiCamillo. This is a must read aloud at the beginning of school for my gr. 3s and they love it.
    Suche memories it has evoked for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by to read, Beverley. It's great to connect with so much, memories & all of you readers, about this. Aren't books grand that way?

      Delete
  21. This is such a beautiful memory, Linda. It only means that Kate DiCamillo's book is that powerful to evoke these kinds of detailed ruminations from you. I always feel a sense of quiet and blessedness as I read through your posts, dearest Linda. Like cool lemonade after a rushed, humid, and hurried day. One of those 'fine' things you were talking about. :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. My daughter and I were reminiscing last weekend about a small town experience - in fact I've been trying to find a way to write about our thoughts. Your entry has me thinking and composing a little bit more. Maybe I'll be ready to share soon, your entry was a nice story within a story.

    ReplyDelete

Having a conversation is a good thing!