Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Whisked Away To Gone-Away


Yesterday our high, for most of the day, was a measly 3 degrees F. Three degrees! I cancelled all my intended errands and stayed home, appreciated the sun, but still complained in my heart far too much about this long winter.

It's as though I feel the grace to live here seeping away. Oh, not that God would take it all away as long as I've no choice but to live here now. No, but He's snatched just enough to get me dreaming about living someplace else. A necessity, really, that removing of some grace (so I'll want to leave), because otherwise, the whole thought of moving would be too daunting, moving being right up there with the death of a loved one where stress is concerned.

Today is better. Today had to be better and yesterday that's what I kept reminding myself (I'll spare you further details, including how the cold water pipe for our bathtub froze...). Yes, today we're at a balmy 15 degrees, and the sun was shining so brightly that when I lugged some furniture down our front ice-crusted steps for the curb, I wasn't even wearing a jacket and for the first time, I could remember Spring. What it feels like. At least a little.

Anyway, have you ever read Gone-Away Lake or its sequel, Return to Gone-Away, both by Elizabeth Enright? No? Oh my, I do feel bad for you (or excited if you plan to read it later). I don't care that these were written for 12-year-olds, they are much too amazing for kids only. Anyway, I've been rereading them both, as I do every year, so that's why I'm mentioning them.

On the one hand, they make me crazy with desire, especially during this winter which will not go away. No, really! They tell the story of a boy and girl, cousins, both 12-ish,who discover a nearly-abandoned, crumbling group of Victorian summer homes, built in the 1890's, on the edge of what was a lake at the time. Now, 60 years later, only two are inhabited--one by an elderly sister and the other by her brother, both who had such fond memories of this resort neighborhood as children, that they returned in their 60's to live out the rest of their lives in this secluded, forgotten spot. The two cousins befriend this sister and brother and are given the attic of one of the Victorian houses to use for a clubhouse, they invite their friends, and have great fun exploring and hearing the tales of the early days of Gone-Away Lake.

In Return To Gone-Away, the largest, most ornate of the houses is purchased by the family of one of the cousins and the book is full of specific details of all it took to make the house livable again (I love homey details like those). Treasures are discovered inside, and too, more adventures take place for the cousins and their friends as they explore more of Gone-Away Lake and become even closer to the elderly sister and brother who live there.

I love these books. I discovered them only 5 years ago (or so) and have probably reread them each 10 times. If these sound interesting to you, most likely your library will have them.

It takes something pretty amazing to make me desire to be 12 again--but these books can do that. I read them and I want to walk through a field and forest and come upon a forgotten neighborhood of Victorian houses. I want to meet an elderly sister and brother who can tell me all about the neighborhood's secrets of people long dead. And I want to buy a huge old Victorian with a statue lamp on the stair post and a Waterford chandelier and an attic full of antiques and a treasure in the--well, I won't spoil it for you.

But since I can't exactly do all that--at least not right this minute--I'll just be happy rereading these books and letting them carry me away, back to the 1950's, to a peaceful, forgotten place called Gone-Away.

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