Book Nook: Buy a Stick of Candy

Trot, trot to Boston Town
To buy a stick of candy,
One for you and one for me
And one for Dicky Dandy.

We have a cabinet full of candy. Leftover Halloween candy, candy from birthday party goody bags, Christmas candy, even a chocolate Easter bunny. We have way too much candy in our house.

Buying candy was such a treat when I was growing up. My parents rarely let us eat candy unless we were on vacation. Every summer, we vacationed on the shores of Lake Huron with my aunts, uncles and cousins. Down the road from our cabins was a gas station and camp store. We just called it the “pink store.” My sister and I would beg Dad for some quarters and walk down to the pink store with our cousins. This was right around 1980, and we were all leggy kids with scraggly, 70’s style hair, short shorts, knee socks and tennis shoes. The younger cousins would stand around the candy aisle first and carefully select the most candy we could buy with our tightly gripped, slightly sweaty coins. Then we would head to the back of the store to watch the older cousins play pinball. We always bought candy cigarettes, pretending to smoke on the walk home. Look, Mom and Dad, we’re smoking! Our parents would laugh, and our gang would go to someone’s cabin to play cards. Are candy cigs still available? Probably not! My favorite candy back then was a vanilla Charleston Chew. You could bite it or freeze it and bang in against the table to break it into pieces.

In contrast, the only time Laura and Mary in the Little House books got candy was once a year, on Christmas!

On the Banks of Plum Creek On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I brought out my set of Little House books for my husband to read to our four year old daughter. She loves hearing stories from these books over and over again. I had great fun rereading the these books. (We read Little house in th Big Woods, Little House in the Prairie, and On the Banks of Plum Creek. Farmer Boy begins with the big boys wanting to beat the teacher, so we skipped that book, and the fifth By the Shores of Silver Lake had some story lines that I thought might be too mature for our four year old. We’ll come back to the series when she’s older.)

From my childhood readings, I distinctly remember the grasshoppers coming and destroying the crops, along with the vivid descriptions of how quickly a blizzard would blow in. One my of favorite stories was when Pa got caught in a blizzard walking home from town. He fell in a small hollow and was trapped in a cave of snow for days. This cave of snow saved him from freezing to death. He stayed alive by eating some of the Christmas treats he had bought in town, including the Christmas candy. When he finally arrived home, safe and sound, the snow cave being only yards from the house, Laura and Mary are so relieved that they do not mind not having their Christmas candy.

‘”Well,” Pa said, “we’ll have a big wheat crop next year, and you girls won’t have to wait till next Christmas for candy.”‘

At least Pa had not eaten the oysters, and there was oyster stew for Christmas dinner.

Discussing this book was fun for my husband and me. We are fascinated with how people used to live and the skills they needed to survived. On the Banks of Plum Creek is not just for children, but is fun for adults to revisit or read for the first time.

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Book Nook: Fidelity: Five Stories by Wendell Berry

As I unpacked my suitcase at my parents’ house last week, I realized I forgot to bring a book. Fortunately, this is never a problem. My parents both have many books from which to choose. And so I stumbled upon one of my father’s books, and discovered an author I had never heard of before. I brought his book home with me, and read it cover to cover in about three days. This was one of those books you never want to end.
Fidelity: Five Stories Fidelity: Five Stories by Wendell Berry

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Have you ever read a book only to envy the author’s talent? If only I could be as wonderful a writer as Wendell Berry. The simplicity of his words evoke beautiful images of both scenery and inner beauty of the people he writes about. The five stories in this book are all set near Port William, a fictional town in the farmland of Kentucky. The characters are all connected in some way, just as in real small town life. The faithfulness of the characters are examined in each story; faithfulness to a father, wife, friend, or even one’s self.

“And there on the ridgetop in the low sunlight they danced the dance of women laughing, bending and straightening, raising and lowering their hands, swaying and stepping with their heads back.” (from “A Jonquil for Mary Penn”)

In your mind’s eye, can’t you just see the above image? Fidelity is full of such images. Perhaps one of the reasons I loved this book is because the descriptions of these families correspond with the images I have of my father’s childhood. He was raised in a very small town, worked on a farm, and had strong family ties. Or perhaps I am reminded of my own childhood in a rural community.

The last paragraph of “Making It Home,” in its simplicity, brought tears to my eyes. ‘”Honey, run yonder to the house. Tell your granny to set on another plate. For we have our own that was gone and has come again.”‘

I am usually not a fan of short story collections. These short stories, however, captured my heart.

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