When I moved to Baltimore, I was introduced to a tall (almost six foot), brown eyed beauty with a great cascade of natural curls. Amy and I were opposite on almost every level (the primary and most noticeable one being our height – I astutely clung to the five foot ONE and objected to being contested on the ‘one’). What we did have in common was our love for God, literature, music and the arts…and of course, peanut butter, chocolate and cream of wheat. In Amy, I would find one of my closest friends. And for the love of friendship had to put up with just a few eccentricities (as I’m sure she was tolerant of my many quirks!); one of these being the Maine-is-superior-to-all Disorder.
When I first arrived in the USA, my first impression was the massive vastness of the horizon. I had never seen such a large sky! “Hmph”, Amy scoffed, “It’s nothing until you’ve seen Maine’s sky!” So in Amy’s presence nothing complimentary could be said of any of the North American states without establishing the standing superiority of Maine’s! No sunrise, sunset, season, water body or horizon was as good as Maine’s! I learned to curb my hasty words of admiration when in Amy’s presence but eventually, as most good friends, she was able to partially interpret my thoughts and with a wise shake of her head, sigh back the expected comment!
Amy finally did take me to her pristine state and introduced me to the gorgeous New England Fall glory in all her splendor, the sparkling, cool streams, apple orchards, armies of pines and the picturesque lighthouses that dot her impeccable coasts. Yes, Maine is beautiful! When Ria was born she gifted her a wonderful collection of books, that she treasures – all of the McCklosky books are prized by Ria! And now she too is filled with the desire to visit this wondrous, magical state with it’s singularly unique culture and language!
Thanks to ASI’s recommendation, we embarked on The Old Squire’s Farm. Lii presented me with a copy, as a perfect birthday gift, and we were positively addicted to this quasi-auto-biographical collection of short stories! (In case you were wondering, this is where the Amy connection surfaces!)
Literature is always saved for the latter end of school. Normally I am supposed to hastily lunch so that I can read to them while they eat theirs! I am never permitted to cheat! (On two occasions I was caught and strongly admonished so that I sheepishly put the book back on the shelf and decided the guilt was not worth the pleasure!)
The Waugh brothers have done an outstanding work of arranging CA Stephen’s stories in an unputdownable volume! This book is really the next best thing to Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer and Laura Ingalls, Little House on the Prairie series.
The post civil war stories take place in, yes, God’s own country, rural Maine, where the fatherless cousins come to live with their grandparents on their spacious and busy farmstead. Every story is fabulous! Among our favorites were The Vermifuge Bottle, A Boyish Odyssey, How to Thaw a Frozen Pipe and the Making of Mug Bread.
The drawback is that some of the chapters are long and since it is torturous to pause mid-chapter, many a free evening has been spent in developing a fine sore throat!
Even my mother was unapologetically riveted! She loves to read and will always rifle through our latest homeschool additions and then, settle down to the printed page with a deaf ear and a blind eye to all else around! She has been promising to return soon and I’m having to quell mild suspicions that a large part of her enthusiasm is for The Old Squire’s Farm that she was unable to complete!
This post pays homage to Maine, to CA Stephen and to my dear friend Amy, who I miss more than I can say, and who, despite my horrifying lack of communication remains my true friend! Any thought or word of New England, especially Maine, unerringly and happily brings her to mind. (You can find Amy, her brilliant husband, their good looking brood, delightful pictures of Maine and her 1805 house, that incidentally, may well have been standing at the same time as that of The Old Squire’s Farm- on her blog.)
I must warn you! This book is addictive for both boys and girls alike, will instill a Maine curiosity and leave you eventually resentful because such books, really, ought not to end! Ayuh!