It’s been a day of blizzard--wind mainly from the west but enough gusts from the north to close up our driveway and keep us home. I walked up to the neighbors’ house once, and when I turned around to walk back down the hill, my footprints and Sarah’s had already been covered over by new, wind-driven snow.
More dreams last night, these set here in Leelanau County—Waukazoo Street, Alpers Road, M-204—but peopled with characters from Mildred D. Taylor’s Logan family stories. In one dream, Sarah was big enough that I could ride her, bareback, like a horse, guiding her with bridle and reins, ordering her “Up!” a roadside embankment to put distance between us and evil-intentioned pursuers.
When I reach the last page of a book, even if the main character has died, I usually wonder, “What happened next?” and this has been especially true for me with Mildred D. Taylor’s nooks about the Logan family. I woke this morning to finish Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and to think about young adult fiction for most of the rest of the day, on and off--not while outdoors with Sarah in the wind-driven snow and not while cozily perusing Eating By Color, a new cookbook, gift from a friend, but quite a lot. I thought about “happy endings,” which is what led me to thinking about endings in general and how Taylor’s novels don’t so much end, in a contrived or any other way, as much as they reach a point where this one certain part of the story fades off, though you know the larger family life goes on, and you just hope there will be another book to pick up the threads again. Cassie’s story is one of collision with very harsh, cruel reality. The saving grace for the girl, though it doesn’t change the larger world, is her family, and we want to know what happens next in her life. What I most feared for the family had not occurred by the last page (though plenty of terrible things did happen), but I want to know that it never came about. Not then and not later.
Next in my book stack, though, the one I hope to begin reading aloud to David later tonight, is In the Shade of Spring Leaves: The Life and Writings of Higuchi Ichiyo, a Woman of Letters in Meiji Japan. One of the raves on the back of the book says "brilliant local color, elegance of style and deep insight into society's urban fringe dwellers, particularly women and adolescents." Ichiyo lived from 1872 to 1896. I am impatient to enter her world. Will it be warm or cold?