willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs

Ode to the Written Word

An Ode to the Written Word,”
that is our theme for our upcoming Spring Sales and Events. What does that mean, you ask? and how does that theme lend itself to Spring merchandise and creations for sale in a barn? I will let you in on that in a minute but right now I would like to share a little secret. Before I do that, I would love to thank you for reading me! It feels so good to air these missives that I share with you! Okay, here is the secret… I have an absolute love of books, one that causes my business partner and friend to groan every time I come back from a hunting and gathering trip with my arms full of them.

Not just any books, but OLD books, torn pages, filled with language that speaks of a long ago era, dog eared, browned and brittle pages, some with covers falling off and some missing all together. What is it at the root of this obsession?

 I think it goes back to when I was in Second Grade living in Bartlett, Illinois and it took hold from there. We lived in a small town where a train ran through the middle of town. There I walked to school with my sister who was a year younger, and then back home for lunch and then back to school again and then back home at the end of the day. Each way was almost a mile and yes, I did wear shoes. It was pretty much a Mayberry kind of town and when it was deemed that we were responsible enough, we were allowed to ride our bikes across the train tracks to get to the town Library… solo.  In the summers, we enrolled in the Library reading contest and I can still feel the excitement that I felt loading up my bike basket with the days selections. I furiously pedaled home to both beat my sister and to dive into my newest acquisitions. The occasional trip to Humbrachts, the penny candy store (yes, I said penny and I am under fifty) where we would save up, sit at the counter and order an honest to goodness ice cream soda, might have helped to boost my memories of the library trip. Sounds very much like how we raise our kids right now, right??? 

My dad was transferred a lot when we were growing up, so Mayberry only lasted for three years but I think that experience coupled with the bookplates that my grandmother and great grandmother gave us to proclaim a book that was our very own, started an obsession with books that has grown along with the wrinkles on my face.

We moved to Pennsylvania after that, when I was in Sixth Grade and after living in another neighborhood house, my parents soon found an old run down farmhouse with some land to put their roots down in and fulfill a dream. With a ton of elbow grease they proceeded to turn it into what we all  called Home… MacLeod’s Pond and it is where they still reside. (I have referred to that place in a couple of my earlier blogs) There was some adjusting to do since we had always lived in neighborhoods and here there wasn’t anything that resembled that for a couple of miles. No Humbrachts, no train tracks, no library, no grocery store within twenty minutes. What is a girl to do? Why of course, make a library of her own, again with her sister, in a little shed on the property.

We collected all of the books we owned and added some from our little brother and mom and dad. We proudly adhered our little book plates to any that weren’t already adorned, glued in a library pocket, filled out an index card and viola! We were open. Open to whom? Well, we were lucky enough to meet a family down the road a way, upon chasing the horses who had gotten loose, one summer’s day. Low and behold, they had two girls our age who were as lame and bored as we were (think pre internet days) and all of a sudden we had elevated the status of our “library” to a Clubhouse. I think we all had read too many Trixie Beldon books!  The clubhouse prospered for going on two years until High School hit and then it slowly fell into disuse. I would occasionally retreat to it to get away from some  of the self induced “stress” of the High School experience. With the cracking open of a book, all the memories of simpler and problem free days would flood back in like the light that filtered through the dirty windows, to light up the pages.

The story then becomes very much like that of many other women my age. I went to college, got married, started my own family and left the club house behind. I did not leave my love of books behind, nor the love for the old that my years growing up in an old farmhouse fostered. What do you think I did with that family of my own that was quickly growing? Why sign up for the Summer reading programs at the Library of course! We were frequents at the Exton Library and then the Hankin, from the time they could toddle until a few years ago when their busy Middle School and High School schedules made it impossible. Barnes and Noble became our mainstay and you can still catch us there at least once a week. (Just like the penny candy experience helped boost our library trips, I think Starbucks might have the same effect.)
I hope to no end that book stores are still around when my kids have kids! I know that they are slowly becoming obsolete as the world of the Nooks, E-readers, Kindles etc take over.  Surely, there has to be enough “bookies” out there who love the feel of a book in ones hand, the smell of a book and the calming effect that walking into a book store induces? These REAL, hard bound books not only tell their own story but they can give you a peek into the life of their present or past owner.  Have you ever looked through your grandmother’s cookbook with notes in her handwriting in the margins?  The perfectly formed letters (another art form that seems to be waning) reminding her of changes she made and wanted to record to make the recipe better. Better yet is a cookbook in her own handwriting. Can’t you feel her presence as you page through the book? I don’t think one would get the same feeling reading the same recipe on a Nook.

I know, I know, I know…progress and technology. Most of it is great, but there are some things that I feel we are loosing for the sake of ease and convenience. What if the architects and builders of the past totally eradicated the building styles of yesterday for progress? Certainly some did and new styles were born but, did you ever notice though that most buildings of today and years before are firmly entrenched in the styles of the past?
My house is full of books and we will continue to add to the collections, both old and new.
I even have a room, an honest to goodness room we call the “Library” where you can go and read a book, or do homework or play music. Kind of like a Family Room but with no TV.
I bought this bookshelf years ago when the kids were little to house all of their books and I changed it seasonally. This year I pulled out their favorite Christmas books and put them in their room so they could read them and a flood of their own memories would come back…just by reading a book. This shelf does not get the usage it once did so sometimes we have to “create” opportunities to help them feel that it is okay to have those connections of emotion to when they were younger.
 It will be a long time before you see me use a technological book. There are some things that I still need to feel, connect to and hold onto. Old fuddy duudy you may call me. I like to think of me as a woman who relishes in the personalization and kinesthetic power of an object when our lives are becoming so impersonal.
In closing…whew!!! I would like to thank you for hanging in there and learning all about why I entitled this upcoming Spring Sale, An Ode to the Written Word. When I am passionate about something you will hear it from me…as I am sure you have figured out by now if you follow this blog. We are over the moon to have Kelly Corrigan here to kick off this theme with her appearance in April where she will read from her BOOK Glitter and Glue. I was hoping to get her her to the barn this Spring and as fate would have it…she will be. We have lots of cool literary inspired items that are coming in, even as I am writing this which I cannot wait to show you. 
Scottish Author Thomas Carlyle proclaimed in the nineteenth century the abiding value of the written word: “In books lies the soul of the whole Past Time, the articulate audible voice of the Past, when the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream.”
In written word~

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Oh, Meg, how I enjoy your blog so!!! Thank you for your beautiful words. See you soon. -Suzanne Norris

  2. Lifes Patina says:

    Dear Suzanne~
    Truly…thank you for reading, enjoying and posting that you read the blog! Your comment means a lot! Hope to see you soon as well!