My literary tree
Books are probably the most consistent symbol of my life. You see, my mother is a book collector, filling shelves from floor to ceiling, cataloguing them, and even dusting them (individually -- my mother being devoted to cleanliness) twice a year according to the traditional spring and fall cleaning schedule. Many Saturdays of my childhood were spent at auction sales – not the nose-in-the-air urban auctions where bidders sit silently, awaiting items of interest with the help of Starbucks, but the real country auctions where you can buy a slice of homemade pie, as long as you don’t mind shoeing away greedy-eyed flies. At these auctions, for us, the most prized item up for bid was the “box lot of books.” Those were the days when you could get a whole box for $1, maybe $2. My dad usually did the bidding, proud to secure another box of books for his girl (although he, himself, has only read three books in his life). My favourite part was going through the books when we got home; the treasures left inside the covers fed my love of mystery and romance, my passion for the unknown. We found newspaper clippings, post cards, old bookmarks, notes, and even a telegram from the mid-1800s. Who was reading this book? What were they doing when they got the message? Did they ever finish the book? Did they wonder where they left that piece of paper? Since I lived on a farm in very rural Ontario, my primary playmate was my imagination, so these treasures, along with the stories they accompanied, kept me floating in story through the long, hot summers and the longer, cold winters.