Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Friday, July 25, 2008

Old, Familiar Pages



"Let a joy keep you. Reach out your hands and take it when it runs by."
-Carl Sandburg

There is a battle raging in the sky now: a ferocious storm has descended on us and unleashed a troubling amount of rain. The earth outside my window has turned to mud, slick and treacherous to the poor souls outside.
For comfort when alone, when the lights begin to flicker and blink and the doors rattle, I like to reach out for my books.
Even when electricity has been extinguished and I am in complete darkness, the feel of old, familiar pages puts me at instant ease. By my hand there is an old copy, dated 1926, of Carl Sandburg poems: its yellowed leaves smell of long-ago smoke.
I unearthed the book when I lived in California, when I frequented dimly-lit bookstores and my hunger for reading took precedence over all else.
I suspect that the treasured volume has weathered more storms than its benign appearance would imply. It could be that it was first brought home in happy hands to a humble house in which electricity was a concept for the wealthy, and candles, lanterns, wholesome sunlight were the unfailing tools of the book owner's day.
It was passed on, perhaps, to succeeding generations of readers, or else held hostage in a gloomy attic for half a century before a soul stumbled upon it.
Such books do not need the light of an electric bulb to inspire me. I know the words of Carl Sandburg with my eyes closed:

"It's going to come out all right- do you know?
The sun, the birds, the grass- they know.
They get along- and we'll get along."

The storm will shortly pass, as everything does. I am glad for my books, and for some hot tea and for the prevailing sense of history that puts all mundane worries into perspective.

8 comments:

stamperdad said...

On our recent trip we had a severe thunder and lightning storm while camping in Billings, Montana. Fortunately no wind associated with the storm, but still sleeping in an RV comfortable, but a little unsettling. Nature is wonderful, but powerful.

Steve

polona said...

there's not much we can do against the rage of the nature...
but i agree, books can be - and are - a great comfort...

San said...

Come over and collect an award at my place...

Pauline said...

Carl Sandburg - a perfect storm partner.

When it storms here I hide under the kitchen table. We've had some beauts this summer.

The Texican said...

Hi Ele, an old blanket, a book, all are comforting when alone in the dark during a storm. I sang to Barbara by candlelight during our night of the storm. We realized how much we depend on outside entertainment when we were totally cut off. Great post once again. Pappy

TheElementary said...

Steve, I can imagine it was difficult in an RV in such weather but it sounds like you all made the best of it.

Polona, very comforting- I go everywhere with books just in case I get stuck somewhere and want to have something to read.

San, I just saw it- I'm so pleased, thank you... who doesn't love to get an award ;)

Pauline, I've not gone under the table but I used to have my fingers in my ears when little- to block the wind noise.

Texican, it's always the simple things that remind us what life is about- none of the fancy expensive gadgets we buy will work during a power cut but books and good company will always win over any troubled time.

tangobaby said...

There could be no lovelier touchstone than an old book. I wonder if you and I have the same favorite bookstore haunts? I bet we do.

TheElementary said...

Tangobaby, my favourites were mostly thrift stores (and some used bookstores) and they were in a small town in Northern California- but I know San Francisco and have good memories of bookstores there. I know I have the names somewhere... I had good times whenever I looked for books.

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