I was reunited with an old friend recently—a friend I hadn’t thought about in years. Her name is Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The yellowed copy of Little House on the Prairie apparently came in one of the (many) boxes of books I keep slowly moving out of my parents’ house each time I visit. But I took the book out of the box and placed it on my shelf without even really noticing. I was surprised to see it there.
When I did see it, I took it down and started reading. Like I said, it had been years. It’s amazing what we remember—and what we don’t. Laura was the same old Laura, but I was shocked by some of the things Pa and Ma say about “Indian Territory.” And I was struck by the amount of detail Laura goes into, describing how Pa built the log cabin and the doors and the fireplace. It’s pretty dry stuff for a children’s book, actually. Maybe that’s when I learned to skim-read.
It’s amazing what sticks with us—how we feel kinship with certain characters years after we first meet them. My husband, like most kids, loved reading books about animals when he was little. He hasn’t read an animal book in ages, but he still knows all kinds of random and interesting facts about them. My brother is the same way with Greek mythology.
It’s amazing what we can still learn, too, and how our perceptions change over time. About American Indians and log cabins and about animals and mythology. I come to work every day and am fascinated by the things I learn from the books I get to work on. Sometimes I’ll come across a fact that I already knew—something I learned in school or read in another book somewhere along the line. It can be fun to run into those memories. But there are also plenty of times when I discover something I hadn’t learned or read before. Like how foxes hunt.
I get excited every time—almost as excited as I was to see Laura on my shelf.