When I was 9, 10, or 11 years old, or maybe older than that, my father actually bought me a birthday present. Not that he never bought me presents before. He always paid for them, but very few times selected them.
For this particular birthday he had wrapped up the presents in brown paper from a grocery sack. No ribbons. Just scotch tape. He wrote something like "To Christine, From Dad" with a permanent sharpie in his usual slanted, angular printing.
I opened them up and found two dark green books from Barnes and Noble. (That was the coolest book store back then!) One was a thick collection of American short stories. The other was a book by Willa Cather. I never read them all the way through. In fact I think I tried to read Cather's novel but gave up. I don't remember if it was My Antonia or Oh, Pioneers!. I did read several of the short stories in the collection he gave me though.
As I grew up in that same bedroom in my home in Los Gatos, CA those books sat there, and sat, and sat, and sat. And they would still be sitting there if my brother Clayton hadn't moved back to our house and moved himself into my old bedroom. But he probably didn't trash the books. They are probably on the bookshelves in his old bedroom. The sort of storage room now where everything that you don't want in your room goes. Those books are probably there right now. Waiting still for me to read them. And if that Willa Cather book is Oh, Pioneers! I will read it, this summer.
I just finished My Antonia and all I can say is "I'm so glad I waited to read it now". It is a wonderful book. An excellent book. An uplifting book. A sad book. A happy book. A book of love. Not a romantic novel, but a book of how real people can love and appreciate others in so many different ways. It was a beautiful book. One of those books that just makes you yearn for those good old days. I'm sure you all who have read it are wondering about my sanity. Good old days? I'm just the kind of person who longs for wide open spaces, for real nature, for the opportunity to take something small and build something big and wonderful from it. I just loved it. Hmmmm. . . . . . sigh.