Thursday, May 31, 2012

The North Star

Until today, I'd sworn off buying more books for two reasons. First, because I realized I had become more of a book collector than a book reader. And second, because there's simply no room left. I was doing fine with ignoring my addiction/collection until someone sent me this picture in an email today:

Now why would my dear friend send me that picture, knowing I have a serious habit? Look how pretty they are! All the colors! And the illustrations! And there are so many of them!

And why would I want this entire set when I've only read the first book? Why do I love a book filled with sailing terminology I can't decipher, a book in which nothing much seems to happen, and does so slowly? Why would I want a huge set of stories that seem to be about kids and for kids but don't have the same sort of pacing and action as most of the popular children's series you know of, being not necessarily for kids and being published in the 30s and 40s? Mostly, I want them because of my short stay in the Lake District during my first summer in England and because of what the trip meant to me...

...and because I found the first book (whose location is based on the one in the image above) to be quiet and comforting, just like the lakes themselves. Something doesn't always have to happen in stories, you know. Sometimes it's nice to just sit out in the middle of the water a while and let the rest of the world sail on by. And so, though my copy is in good company on the shelf...'s without its brothers and sisters, thus, the book buying bug returns...which is a good thing, because, for a minute there, when I stopped wanting to get new books, I was secretly afraid I was dying on the inside, but which is a bad thing, because I haven't got $230 laying around. For Christmas maybe...

From Arthur Ransome's note at the beginning of Swallows and Amazons: " children, my brother, my sisters and I spent most of our holidays on a farm at the south end of Coniston. We played in or on the lake or on the hills above it...We adored the place. Coming to it, we used to run down to the lake, dip our hands in and wish, as if we had just seen the new moon. Going away from it, we were half drowned in tears. While away from it, as children and as grown-ups, we dreamt about it. No matter where I was, wandering about the world, I used at night to look for the North Star and, in my mind's eye, could see the beloved skyline of great hills beneath it."

From Swallows and Amazons, Chapter 1: "...they had seen the lake like an inland sea. And on the lake they had seen the island. All four of them had been filled at once with the same idea. It was not just an island. It was the island, waiting for them. It was their island. With an island like that within sight, who could be content to live on the mainland and sleep in a bet at night?"