Thursday, August 26, 2010

We Took To The Woods

Getting out of the house for adventures is nice and all, but I spend a lot of time at my desk at work listening to audio books and on my couch at home reading. If you like reading then it can be an adventure too. I just finished "We Took To The Woods" by Louise Dickenson Rich and I loved it. She writes about how her and her husband live in a little house in Maine away from pretty much everything except the river, the trees, and a handful of far away neighbors and logging camps. It's funny and sweet and mesmerizing. It gives me wanderlust to go back to Maine and stay there. I wonder what my life would be like if I'd actually gone to college in Maine like I'd wanted to and almost did. Anyways, this is one of my favorite passages from the book. Not one of the winter chores parts or the funny stories about loggers or fisherman, but a little something about raising her kids in the woods and making sure they have the things they need. Enjoy.
"What can we give our children, then, that won't be outmoded, that won't, under some eventuality that we can't foresee, prove to be a handicap to them?...
We can give him a happy childhood to remember, a way of life that he will be willing to die to protect, if the need arises. That sounds like a grim and Spartan gift to a little boy, but it's not as dangerous a gift as the belief in pacifism and universal well-wishing to which my generation was exposed. I don't want to raise my son to be a soldier—but if he has to be one, I want him to be a good and capable one. I want him to know what he's fighting for—and Freedom and Democracy won't mean a thing to him unless they are all tied up with memories of things he has loved ever since he can remember: things like the sound of the river, and the way Kyak lies and dreams in front of the open fire on a crisp autumn evening, and the picnics we've held at Smooth Ledge. The name of his country won't be worth fighting for unless he can remember from experience that his country is the place, not of equal opportunity, not of universal suffrage, not of any of those lofty conceptions so far above a little boy's ability to comprehend, but the place where he walked with his father down a woods road one evening and saw a doe and twin fawns; or the place where he came in from playing in the snow and found the kitchen warm and fragrant and his mother making popcorn balls. That's all that I can give him; that's all that I dare to try to give him—something that he will love enough to want to preserve it for himself and others against whatever danger may threaten from whatever quarter, and the toughness and courage with which to fight for it."

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