Possumhaw: Reading in the New Year



Shannon Bardwell



"You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book." 


Dr. Seuss, children's author 




Predicted for the new year is plenty of good reads and a lot of running around. For Christmas the Bardwells each received two pairs of tennis shoes and a total of seven books. We also received more than our share of chocolates and goodies which, of course, have all been consumed. Hopefully the running around will somewhat decrease what the chocolates increased. Our book-givers are so good at picking books I've provided a book list, with descriptions in order of the book's dimensions: 


"Everyday Encouragement," by Pamela McQuade, in it's third printing: These brief but powerful devotional readings will nourish you --mind, body and soul, helping you to rise above life's challenges. 


"A Year in Small Drawings," by Matilda Tristram: Matilda provides 52 themes and examples to inspire your exploration. This sketchbook encourages observation through a gratifying practice of filling just one small space at a time.  


"The Illustrated Words of Jesus for Women," by Carolyn Larsen: This is 366 days of calming coloring and meaningful meditations on the words of Jesus. 


"Tell the Wolves I'm Home," by Carol Rifka Brunt: A New York Times bestseller that will live in the readers' imaginations long after the final page is turned, Brunt's novel is a beautifully bittersweet mixture of heartbreak and hope set in 1987 about the 14-year-old June Elbus. 


"The Short Novels of John Steinbeck," including "Tortilla Flat," "The Moon Is Down," "The Red Pony," "Of Mice and Men," "Cannery Row" and "The Pearl": Steinbeck created stories that were realistic, rugged and imbued with energy and resilience. 


"The Feather Thief," by Kirk Wallace Johnson: A true crime story of Edwin Rist, a 20-year-old American flautist who, after performing at London's Royal Academy of Music, took a train to the British Museum of Natural History where he stole hundreds of valuable, irreplaceable bird skins and then vanished. The author became obsessed to find what became of Rist and the stolen bird skins.  


"Forest Life-Practical Mediations on Canoeing, Fishing, Hunting, and Bushcraft," by George Washington Sears, known as Nessmuk: Nessmuk was born in 1821, and though he was trained by his father as a shoemaker, said he was never suited for indoor work. By 1860 he began writing a local newspaper column of life in the woods and later for magazines -- "Porter's Spirit of the Times" and "Forest and Stream." He published a camping guide in 1884 and a book of poetry in 1887.  


Nessmuk took his last canoe trip along the Florida coast at age 65 before succumbing to tuberculosis and malaria. At his weakest, he asked to lie beneath the hemlocks near his home, where he passed away. "Forest and Stream's" tribute: "Nessmuk loved nature as few men ever did. He knew her secrets, while shy almost to the degree of self-effacement, his character was as strong as his integrity was upright. How well he loved the waters and the woods and the light of day filtering through the leaves."  



Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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