Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Burning Desire to Read

"Let books be your dining table and you shall be full of delights.
Let them be your mattress and you shall sleep restful nights."

-St. Ephrem the Syrian, 303-373

Most adults that love books will have enjoyed them as children. Cherished them and wept at night when it came time to close the page and dim the lights.
With so long a wait until morning, it is no wonder that a good number of book lovers smuggled secret beams of light under the sheets and, once the grownup footfall faded away, resumed the spellbinding moment that had been interrupted.
My mother was one such child and I, on hearing her tale, understood that I am lucky to be here.
One night, when Mater was very young, she was ordered to switch off the light and to put away the book she was reading. She did as she was told but as soon as she was alone fetched a battery-operated torch and snuggled under the covers with her book. The lamplight was soon seen, of course, and the tool immediately taken away from her protesting small self. Mater was crestfallen but industrious, too. The following night she was rather more prepared. A candle and a box of matches would see to it that Mater might read her book. Under the sheets she went, and inside the makeshift tent there smoldered a great candle.
Alas, we can surmise without much ado how it ended. When morning called, an extensive hole in the fine sheet merited my mother an unrestrained admonishing that never left her memory.
Just like Mater, I too will go to great lengths to retain my hold on a book; and indeed, I am lucky to be here to do so.


molly said...

My mother, too, was such a reader! My aunt was afraid they'd all be burnt in their beds, so often did she have a candle under the sheets, reading penny dreadfuls and such! But here I am, blessed with electricity to indulge the addiction she passed on to me.....

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Molly, that's a wonderful thought, about love of reading being passed on. And true, it's so much easier to read in bed now than it was in the days of candles! And safer ;)

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