Another day in the countryside

The stories we tell

© Another day in the countryside

Every time I go to the library, I take an armful of books.

“I don’t live nearby,” I tell the lady checking the books, as if I need an explanation for the pile, a reason for my gluttony.

My theory is that I probably won’t read them all, but I need to be prepared with extra books because what a disaster it would be if I ran out of books to read.

I just re-read a good book, some would say, but I rarely read a book a second time, except by accident.

I won’t read all the books I bring home — maybe half of them. Maybe one in five books is a memorable book, but I keep reading.

A book can fill all kinds of categories.

It can be a teacher, giving instructions on life in general or on a particular skill.

A book can be a trip abroad to a country where I will never set foot but where I was there by the magic of reading.

I used to haunt the resourcefulness aisle of bookstores when I was younger. Now, I rarely pick up a self-help book.

At the time, my self-help search was for parenting ideas because I wanted to be the best mother I could be to my children.

Then my marriage was troubled, and the books I brought home were about co-dependency, fair fights, and setting boundaries.

These days I read autobiographies, fictional tales and mystery stories.

Maggie O’Farrell is a favorite author. This lady can tell a story from next to nothing, and it’s going to be a story you’ll want to keep reading.

Her last book is set in Florence, Italy in the 1550s. Lucrezia de’Medici was the daughter of a Grand Duke, but very little is known of her other than the fact that she was married at 15 years to a ruthless Spanish politician and died within a year.

Now there’s a plot for an experienced writer, and Maggie fills the bill.

You will learn a lot about the Renaissance by reading this book. I was reminded to be grateful to be a woman in 2022 and not 500 years ago.

All the best books give you an education, whether it’s about specific skills or just about life in general.

There’s a wide range of topics to learn and places to go from the comfort of your own home.

Reading a book is better, in my opinion, than watching TV because not everything is presented visually in front of you. You have to engage your mind, your imagination, as you read.

Erica Bauermeister is another favorite author. Her stories are centered around food and cooking. She brings together ingredients for meals and people to enjoy the food she cooks and draws the reader into the experience of sharing.

His stories make you want to go into the kitchen, cook something up, and then call a friend over to take advantage of the bounty.

We had friends in town last week and shared a meal with them. They come once a year to visit Ramona, where, like us, they maintain an old family home.

We sat around their dining room table, listening to stories of loved ones we’ve never seen but feel like we know somehow.

We tell them stories about life in Ramona, about simple things like the sheep that moved to the nearby field and the people who still live here in town and those who moved.

They tell us stories of concerts and traffic jams. We would like to attend the first and are quite relieved not to experience the second.

Their visit is a bit like reading a book from the library. We check it out, listen to the story, imagine what it’s like, learn something, and then we close the book, put it back on the shelf, and go home.

I think their visits to Ramona are like opening a treasured photo album about the grandparents who lived in that very house where we have a meal. Ramona was their home.

All these memories of people from our history crowd around the table as we eat our meal, eager to be included. In the telling of the stories, they are brought back to life, laughing, enjoying this moment, this meal with us, magically transported through the years, spending another day in the countryside.