A little while ago, Lorelei and I received a wonderful surprise package in the mail from Amber and Liam. It included a copy of this very sweet book:
Did you ever read Sarah, Plain and Tall when you were in grade school? It took me a while to make the connection, but All The Places to Love is by the same author. (The darling illustrations were painted by Mike Wimmer -- I can't believe how much the little girl looks like Lorelei.) Amber mentioned in her note that it's a book that reminds her a lot of where she and Liam live, and even though I grew up in a very large suburb of Minneapolis, you didn't have to drive very far to be in the farmland you see in this beautiful little story. My mom's family two generations back was from a very rural part of Nebraska, and I grew up hearing the stories of my great-grandmother's adventures living on the prairie -- it's amazing to think how her husband, my great-granddaddy, was born in a sod house in the 1800s and lived long enough to see a man walk on the moon!
It got me thinking, too, about two grown-up versions of All The Places to Love: one is a book I've discussed before by Wendell Berry (you can read my review of it here) and the other is My Antonia, a novel by Willa Cather that I used to teach back when I was in Colorado. Both of these books are love songs to a place more than novels with gripping plots, but sometimes it's nice to be immersed in the beauty of a landscape without worrying about the who or the what or the why.
I learned fairly recently that Willa Cather commissioned an artist to create drawings for the original publication of My Antonia but that her publisher refused to use them -- luckily, the University of Nebraska rescued them decades later. I've actually been making a series of necklaces out of them in my shop:
...and my mom was inspired enough to make a purse to match.
Thanks again for the mailbox surprise, Amber and Liam :)