When I was 7 or 8, a huge blizzard wrapped my family into our house in southern Minnesota for a couple of days over the New Year Holiday. We all huddled in the basement next to the stone fire place. It is even possible that we didn’t have electricity because of the storm (although I could be mistaken) and so we sat in that room and played quietly. My mom handed me a book to read. I could tell it was one of her old books from when she was a little girl. It had “a lot” of pages and smelled like a combination old newspaper and homemade bread. It was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods.
I sat next to the warm, glowing fire place in an old rocking chair and read that book for hours that day. I became lost in the Big Woods and in the Ingalls’ family’s story. That may be why I want to think that we didn’t have electricity. This is one of my richest and most comforting memories.
On New Year’s Day 2011, I found myself curled up on the couch with a nice warm blanket and Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow. I had electricity, the Internet, and dozens of DVDs to keep me occupied, but I ached for an afternoon of getting lost in a story. It was a wonderful way to start the new year — a year where I will be moving to a new part of the country, beginning my life with new (and old) friends, and hopefully finding my place in the world of librarianship. The afternoon lacked only one thing — I wished for the soft glow and crackle of my parents’ warm fire place to keep me company. Of course, if I’d have been in my parents’ house in front of the fire place, I would be reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods for the eighth time, but that doesn’t matter.
What matters is that it is a new year and another chapter of my story is ready to unfold.
Happy New Year!