I’m curious: can you name one book (or even a few books) that influenced you as a new, independent reader? Is your child sucked into a book at the moment that makes them stay up way past their bedtime with a flashlight under their blanket? What was a book that was so good when you were small, that you had to stay awake all night just to finish it?
Tell me yours, and I’ll tell you mine. Here is a hint:
I am happy today. Tomorrow is my tenth wedding anniversary, and I realized that a decade ago this morning Gary and I were driving down to Tennessee from Ohio in my old Dodge Stratus to get married in a little log cabin. Peaceful. Our wedding wasn’t fancy a tick, but it was very peaceful. My Grandma Masters gave me a handkerchief that was my Great-grandmother’s, and held my hands in hers. My mother looked beautiful, my father strong. When Gary and I spoke our vows, the sun poured through the cabin’s stained glass windows. I could barely see his face because the sun was shining so brightly on it, but I remember we were both shaking as we exchanged the small, modest rings we had chosen for one another. The minister was ancient and spoke in a soft mountain accent that could lull you to sleep. I remember feeling just tucked away in the mountains, in the day, and in love (I know, gag, gag).
I love the accents here in East Tennessee. When we returned here from Alaska almost two years ago, listening to the voices around us felt like being wrapped in a soft, worn quilt. We were so thirsty for home.
I have been struggling the past couple of days with my old wanderlust. A year in one place and my toes just start tapping. But really, how could I leave here again? If anything I need to travel deeper into this area more often. I need more days spent by the mountain streams, I need more bouquets of trillium and mountain laurel in my hands.
I would like to one day move closer to the national park. We’re an hour away, now. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be a librarian, school or public, in a little mountain town? I’d walk to work and Xander would be off to school by bicycle, and even on hazy days the shade of 10 million trees would shelter the sun from burning our skin. Gary could run off to the woods any time he could with his camera, and when we all sat down at the end of the day, we’d share the beautiful things we all saw, read, wrote, and made. There’s a fire in the fireplace, and white candles burning on the mantle.
In the Smokies, there’s a place called Elkmont, where the air is ten degrees cooler in the summer than it is here in town. It’s the place that the fireflies gather in June, and where Knoxvillians eighty years ago used to escape to by train. I keep having this image of a girl in a white dress, her hair falling out of her bun, climbing barefoot on the boulders in the Little Pigeon River. The water is icy, the moss on the boulders are slippery, and the sun cuts in the canopy of trees and lights her face up all golden.