Thursday, June 19, 2014

NUMBER NINE-NINETY-NINE

My droopy old hedge-rose, which this year has taken on the look of a boozy Rose-Parade triceratops, as if the float-decorators reveled late and reported to work, much the worse for wear, at four a.m..


We’ve been sort of on “Pause” of late, piecing together the days with bits and bobs of activity and conversation and home doings, with Chris back at work on Monday, feeling much better, but still moving a little more gently, healing and recovering.   We've immersed ourselves in GrandBaby pictures til they flash before our eyes as we close them to sleep, as we plan our visit to meet our NEWEST and to re-kindle such a fun time with his big brother, a scientist/electronics whiz/world explorer in the making, in North Carolina soon.   
 
And we’ve all been reading like we’re devouring the words.    For one of the rare times of my life, I’ve been reading in the DAYTIME---unheard of, as I’m a bedtime reader, heeding unconsciously the “reading's a waste of daylight,” instilled by my Mother, whose watchful eye was usually foiled by my perch up one of the huge old pecan trees around the yard. And the fleeting thought has come to me several times lately that I ought to be hovering fifteen feet above the ground on a big ole limb, soaking up the moist Mississippi heat, hidden and smothered by the great blankets of leaves in my sanctuary.

 

The last book I read up a tree was EMMA. I remember distinctly, for just as Miss Smith was consigning the sticking- plaster to the fire, a wasp dive-bombed my head and got caught in my hair. I can recall the frantic buzzing, sounding like some sort of model plane, so close was it to my ear, and I also remember dropping (hurling, most likely) the book. I have no recollection of making it down the twelve to twenty feet via the limbs I’d climbed---I may have even jumped part of the way, with no thought that broken bones might be a tad bit more painful and long-lasting than a sting. I DID have the presence of mind to snatch a big towel off the line, get a BIG handful of hair in it, and squeeze with all the might of both hands. I wrung that dry towel til it almost dripped; nothing short of an armadillo could have lived through the pressure of that panic-driven slay-ride.

 

 

Thus disabled, the little stinging critter was hors de combat, and though I had to comb some of his appendages out of my hair before getting right into the shower, no damage was done except to the wasp. I went back later and retrieved the book, none the worse for droppage, and I was certainly glad, for it belonged to the dear woman across the street---the blessed soul who had taught me to READ.

 

I’d no more have let anything happen to one of her books than I’d fly. No turned-down corners (I’d seen in third grade what happened to children who creased corners---Mrs. Nelson’s vise-grip on THAT BURTON BOY’s ear, and her menacing inquiry of, “Would you like for someone to do that to YOU?” probably did more good in the school than any number of cheery caveats stenciled on bright paper). No writing inside or out, no tearing out of pages, no underlining or margin-jotting or boyfriends’ names with little hearts dotting the I, though I love finding those, especially the old ones, with pencil flourishes or the careful ink of a first Fountain Pen, of the young lady’s name and little notations of life and events as was.




There’s just something---something special and significant and oddly charming, in a sort of peek-over-their-shoulder way, to find underlined words and phrases in a book I’m enjoying. Or thoughtful or odd or insightful little jottings in margins, or just inside the covers; I find those all to be an added little bit of lagniappe the author never intended---or perhaps DID.

Writing down something which can make  people think about words and ideas must be a marvelous feat; causing them to earmark the place with a highlighter or underlining means the writing has touched something in them, whether pleasant or touching or incisive or memory-kindling.

 

And the lovely thoughts and e-mails and prayers and comments you’ve all expressed during this scary, stressful time---they’ve all imprinted me, and are underlined indelibly in my heart, for taking out and savoring or remembering or simply smiling over, like flowers pressed in a book.

And the days and hours of enjoyment and companionship and sharing during these past Nine-Hundred-Ninety-Nine posts on Lawn Tea---those will endure for always.

 

Thank you ALL.


11 comments:

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Rachel:

It was the same for us. As children there was always the suggestion of disapproval if one were to spend the daytime reading. Looking back it all seems very odd since there is such joy to be found in a book and to encourage reading in the young would, or so one might think, be the desired aim of any parent.

There is a paradox where notations in books are concerned. We deplore the turned down corners, the creased pages and would no more find ourselves writing in a book than going to the moon [or similar]. But it is always of such interest to fall across the notes of others often to be found in second hand editions into which category so many of our books fall.

These days we talk to wasps, politely requesting that they go away. It usually works.

donna baker said...

Loved this post Rachel. I've missed who's been sick. I've been out of town and try to go back and see what I've missed, but can't always. Congrats on the posts. I'm at almost 500 and can't believe you're at nearly a thousand.

Southern Lady said...

Thank you, Rachel, for each and every one of those 999 ... and the beautiful stories and pictures painted by all those lovely words that came straight from your heart and soul. I cannot find the words to express the pure joy and inspiration they kindled in my heart. I never cease to be awed, my friend.

I'm so glad Chris is feeling better, and hope you will be holding that new grandbaby soon!

racheld said...

Jane and Lance,

It's always sunshiny here when you two drop in!

I do give credit to my voracious appetite for reading, for the grades I made and also for all the odd and weird and funny and useful bits of information forever whizzing around in my brain.

My Grandpa was a Wasp Whisperer, before the term, I think, for he'd see a buzzy creature madly rubbing its back on the fierce heat of the one ceiling light bulb, and would reach up with an upside-down cupped hand and take it outside to freedom.

I learned to catch a bee, but I could never have enough politesse to approach a wasp.

racheld said...

Donna,

One more til a thousand, it is! But I think it's probably approaching a million, in word years. One post numbers what would be pages and pages in WORD, and LT is most likely beyond War and Peace, with several other thick tomes thrown in. Verbose is not nearly a strong enough word.

Thank you for all your comments and visits!

rachel

racheld said...

Janie,

You are such a dear sweet friend, and I hope you know that my 1000 does not come close to the one of your magnificent photos. You've been along for every minute of this adventure, and I so appreciate all your visits and letters and comments. And above all, for calling me Friend.

r

Martha said...

A lovely post! I rarely read in the daytime as well (unless it is before my Sunday nap)

Patsy said...

That was funny to read about now but not back then. I like to read at bedtime but if it is a book that I just can't put down I will read in the day time.

racheld said...

Martha,
That makes me think of you in your garden, a lovely book of plants or a historic, sweeping novel in your lap, or somewhere in your lovely home, with your feet up and a cup of tea beside you.

The cup and saucer are almost always patterned in blue, and it's sometime around three.

It's lovely to have you drop in!

rachel

racheld said...

Miss Patsy,

It certainly wasn't funny to be snatched from the jungle paths with Tarzan and Jane, hot and humid though they were, and be set to moving the lawn or squatting in the wide-open-sun pea-patch for hours.

I lean even more on the side of "Urge" a child to read, even past "encourage," for I give credit for my good grades to all the reading I did (sometimes snuck in).

Always lovely to have you drop in!
Best to Mr. The Bennie,

rachel

Kim S. said...

I was a voracious reader as a child. No one seemed to mind. Momma got in bed with me every night and we read of Heidi or Anne or The Little Princess.

I love finding thoughtful little margin notes, but not incorrect corrections. In many library books published in England, I find that the self-appointed correcters have altered ‘colour’ and ‘flavour’ and such.