January 5, 2013

Saturday has arrived, and here I sit at my computer, bleary-eyed from another sleepless night while our resident owl merrily disrupts my beauty sleep yet again.  This morning my backyard is full of really strange footprints, and I do mean strange.  And I live in the middle of town!  Evidently we have more wildlife than we realized because little tracks are everywhere, running from under our deck, through my garden and into the arbor vitae.  I wonder if 'my' owl has anything to do with these new tracks?  

At times like these, when am I tired and really not up for much of anything, I love turning to one of my favorite things...my childhood books.  There is such a comfort in re-reading a story that is familiar and you know has a happy ending, so you don't have to be nervous about how things work out for the heroine.  There is certainly a time and place for all the wonderful new books that are out there, but sometimes the best thing is to curl up with an old favorite book that feels so right in your hands, sip a cup of tea and escape back to an earlier time (both the book's and your own!).

One of my all time favorite books is the beloved Daddy Long Legs, by Jean Webster.  It's a sweet and funny story about an orphan, Jerusha Abbott, who is unexpectedly given the opportunity to attend college by an anonymous trustee of the orphanage, who thought her irreverent school essay about her experiences at the orphanage might lead to a career in writing.  She heads off to school as an aspiring author, changing her name to Judy along the way and changing the lives of the friends she makes with her zest for life and appreciation of the marvelous gift she's been given.  How can you not love a girl who exclaims “It isn't the big troubles in life that require character. Anybody can rise to a crisis and face a crushing tragedy with courage, but to meet the petty hazards of the day with a laugh--I really think that requires spirit.”  And then, of course, there is that mysterious anonymous trustee, whom she affectionately calls Daddy Long Legs because all she knows about him is that he is very, very tall. Who is he and what part does he play in her life?  I won't reveal more, but if you've never read DDL and its sequel, Dear Enemy, you won't be disappointed! 
Don't you just love the covers of old books?  Here's my copy of Daddy Long Legs, which I have read more times than I can remember.  I somehow romantically thought that my college adventures would echo Judy's, but college in the 70's was a far cry from what Judy and her pals experienced! Oh well, that's one of the reasons I love good stories--it gives us the chance to live vicariously through the characters!  

Here's a great bit of wisdom from young Judy, maybe something we should all remember now and then...
“I've discovered the true secret of happiness, Daddy, and that is to live in the now. Not to be for ever regretting the past, or anticipating the future; but to get the most that you can out of this very instant...I'm going to enjoy every second, and I'm going to know I'm enjoying it while I'm enjoying it. ” 
And because not only do I love old books but also poetry, here is a fun little poem about the insect of the day, written by one of my favorite poets, Ted Kooser.  I'm linking today's post over at Mockingbird Hill Cottage so that you will have the opportunity to learn about other women's favorite things as well.  Enjoy!
Daddy Longlegs
by Ted Kooser 

Here, on fine long legs springy as steel,
a life rides, sealed in a small brown pill
that skims along over the basement floor
wrapped up in a simple obsession.
Eight legs reach out like the master ribs
of a web in which some thought is caught
dead center in its own small world,
a thought so far from the touch of things
that we can only guess at it. If mine,
it would be the secret dream
of walking alone across the floor of my life
with an easy grace, and with love enough
to live on at the center of myself.

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  1. I read this book 15 or so years ago-- as an adult and loved it. I hung onto that copy too which I'm glad because I've had a daughter since then! She can read it too someday.

  2. This is one book that i missed out on in my childhood. I sometimes go into the children's section of the library just to look at the new books kids are reading.

  3. I love that book, too. My mom's childhood edition was in our home when I was growing up. I wish I still had it. Though I know it was greatly changed, I do love the movie with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron, too.

    Thanks so much for joining in this week!


  4. I've never read it (and thought there was a movie, so happy to see Claudia's post above) but will look forward to doing so now! Enjoyed the poem very much too. Daddy long leg spiders were a thing of dread and fear to me growing up - my brother always told me that they'd bite me and little me took that to heart.

    Happy new year to you!

  5. I don't think I've ever seen this book (or the movie), but now you have me curious. We have a lot of wildlife here in our suburban yard... everything from squirrels, owls and hawks to deer, fox and ground hogs. And there have also been coyote sightings a few blocks from here, although I have never personally seen one. So we never know what kind of footprints we might find in the snow.

  6. I love your book! Nooo, apparently I missed this when I was a child, but I am intrigued now :) When I had a house, with rooms, in one of them I had my childhood dresser ... and I figured how appropriate to put on top of it a framed photo my late mom had always held on to and treasured - me, on my First Communion ... and then ... I was mucking about in a secondhand shop and I happened upon this 40s/50s era book that was probably for late elementary school students - the title something like "JeanMary Solves The Case!" It struck me because it's half my first name (Jean) and next to the picture of the day I was celebrating in the Catholic church??? Yes, please! That was a display that made me smile no matter what my other circumstances were, each and every time I walked in that room!!! ... Presently, I have some bookshelves that have empty spots because I'm still getting things out of storage ... I walked into a 2d hand store the other day and - "oh, LASSIE!" I grabbed this children's book and it now stands up tall on a bottom shelf, giving me a special glimpse that touches my heart!