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Another Day in the Country

The stories we tell

© Another Day in the Country

Every trip to the library, I carry out an armload of books.

“I don’t live nearby,” I say to the lady who checks out the books, as if I need an explanation for the stack, some reason for my greediness.

My theory is that I probably won’t read all of them, but I must be prepared with extra books because what a catastrophe it would be if I ran out of books to read.

Just read a good book over again, some people would say, but I rarely read a book a second time except by accident.

I won’t read all the books that I carry home — maybe half of them. Perhaps one in five is a memorable book, but I keep reading.

A book can fill all kinds of categories.

It can be a teacher, giving instructions about life in general or some particular skill.

A book can be a trip abroad to some country where I will never set down my feet but I was there through the magic of reading.

I used to haunt the self-help section of bookstores when I was younger. Now I rarely pick up a self-help book.

Back in the day, my self-help search was for parenting ideas because I wanted to be the best mother I could be for my children.

Then my marriage was troubled, and the books I brought home were about co-dependence, fighting fair, and setting boundaries.

These days, I read autobiographies, fictional tales, and mysterious stories.

Maggie O’Farrell is a favorite author. This lady can spin a story out of next to nothing, and it will be a story you want to keep reading.

Her latest book is set in Florence, Italy in the 1550s. Lucrezia de’Medici was the daughter of a grand duke, but very little is known about her other than that she was married off at 15 to a ruthless Spanish politician and died within a year.

Now there’s a plot for an experienced writer, and Maggie fills the bill.

You learn a lot about the Renaissance in reading this book. I was reminded to be grateful to be a woman in 2022 and not 500 years ago.

All the best books give you an education whether it’s about specific skills or just life in general. 

There’s such a wide array of subjects to learn about and places to go from the comfort of your own home.

Reading a book is better, in my opinion, than watching television because everything is not laid out before you visually. You have to engage your mind, your imagination, as you read.

Erica Bauermeister is another favorite author. Her stories center on food and cooking. She gathers ingredients for meals and people for enjoying the food she cooks and brings the reader along in the experience of sharing.

Her stories make you want to go into the kitchen, whip something up, and then call a friend to come on over and enjoy the bounty.

We’ve had friends in town this past week and shared a meal with them. They come once a year to visit in Ramona, where, like us, they maintain an old family home.

We sat around their dining room table, hearing stories of their relatives whom we’ve never laid eyes on but feel as if we know in some way. 

We tell them stories of living in Ramona, about simple things like the sheep who’ve moved into the field next door and the folks who still live here in town and those who have moved on.

They tell us stories of concerts and traffic jams. We’d like to attend the former and are quite relieved not to be experiencing the latter.

Their visit is a little like reading a book from the library. We check it out, hear the story, imagine what it is like, learn something, and then we close the book, put it back on the shelf and go home.

I think their visits to Ramona are like opening a treasured photo album about grandparents who lived in this very house where we are eating a meal. Ramona was their home.

All these memories of people in our history crowd around the table as we eat our meal, eager to be included. In the telling of the stories, they are alive again, laughing, enjoying this moment, this meal with us, transported magically through the years, spending another day in the country.

Last modified Sept. 29, 2022

 

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