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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hoping for Sun

This sunny day picture is from a few days ago. There’s something about very simple road signs that I find appealing. I especially like the laconic nature of the warning against this taxicab yellow background, in the shape that could say so many different things but this time says only BUMP, suggesting, “You might want to think about slowing down as you go around this corner. I’m not saying you have to, but you might be glad you did.” Note also in this picture the plastic energy-saving panels inside the hardware store windows…the dirty snow piled in front of the shed…muddy puddles in the street…blue sky. We are on the cusp of a season transition, my friends. I have confidence that winter will not last forever—and neither will the sewer work that will start up again with spring’s arrival. (Hence, BUMP.)

We did not have a sunny day yesterday, after all, but neither did we have the all-day snow that Kalamazoo and St. Paul family reported. This morning is another clear dawn, and I’ll hope this time the clear skies last all day.

Last night I brought home SOD AND STUBBLE, by John Ise. It looked so familiar, and I tried to figure out when I would have read it. Possibly for that History Through Literature class at Western Michigan University? But the book, as I realized when I got into it, is nonfiction, a memoir of the author’s parents’ life on the Kansas prairie, so now I’m thinking the professor must have assigned it when I did an Independent Study in agricultural history. If only I could remember all I have “learned” in my life! How many hundreds of brands of barbed wire were there in those days? (A recent book on the subject could probably tell me.) My days spent toiling in the regional archives as a research assistant left the indelible impression of constant movement, waves of immigrants to southwest Michigan, only a few staying to found dynasties of three and four generations. Here’s the opening sentence of SOD AND STUBBLE: ”It was bright mid-afternoon, of the third of June, eighteen seventy-three, on the prairies of Western Kansas.” Nice place to go for an evening this time of year.

Watch for a cheery surprise tomorrow (hint: flowering) and an even better one on Monday, when I will post the first children’s book review from Spencer Willits in Minnesota.

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