Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pigeon Post

This is a continuation of my last post....

We just finished Coot Club, the fourth in the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome, and we've begun Pigeon Post. I've been eagerly waiting for this book; this is the one I read when I was a kid. It's delicious it is to revisit a book that I loved so long ago, and share it with my two children, who love it, too.

When I was 8 years old in the mid-seventies, my family lived in what was then West Germany, near Frankfurt. My father was stationed at a now-defunct American Air Base. It was July, and my family was on a summer vacation in our bright red, 1965 VW camper. We were trying to hit as many countries as we could in my father's three weeks of leave, and one afternoon found us in a bookstore on Trafalgar Square in London. I had begged to go in. I had blazed through the books I'd brought along for the many hours on the road, and I was intrigued by this place--with its dense walls of shelves to the ceiling, it felt like a bookstore I'd seen in Frankfurt, yet these books I could read. My parents said I could choose a book to keep me company as we journeyed to Scotland, and I chose Pigeon Post. I had no idea it was #5 in a series, and I didn't learn this until a couple of years ago, when a British friend and I were chatting about beloved books from our childhoods, and she filled me in on what I'd missed.

I decided to start the series from the proper beginning with my own children. Finally, instead of checking out the next book from our library, we are reading the musty, yellowed Penguin Paperback that's been sitting on my shelf all these years.

It's better than I remembered. It's wonderful. And I keep having these marvelous moments of short-term clairvoyance: like when Rodger gets a surprise package on the train, and I realize that I know what's inside of it. Or when Nancy comes back from the High Topps full of news, and I know what she's going to report. Thirty-two-year-old memories that I didn't know I had. It's a tale of brave, funny, daring children (eight of them!) and their summer at the lake, doing their best to avoid adults and scare up some proper adventure.

What a great way to end our summer together.

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