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How Rich was your Year? By M. David

Updated: Dec 15, 2019

“Stillmeadow Daybook” is a journey through the year on Stillmeadow farm. We often look back at our own past year and meander on what was and what could’ve been. Here is a book that makes me stop, think and take time to linger with memories of times past and the ones ahead and consider how I will proceed differently.      Author Gladys Tabor opens the year perhaps with a thought that makes me wonder if we don’t all dream a little of having a fairy tale life… Alas, they are generally the stuff that children’s books are made of. She says, “I am sorry to see fairy tales in such poor repute, for there is something in a fairy tale and legend that is vital.  No amount of factual books can replace the delight of the Snow Queen in the palace of ice, or the charm of Sleeping Beauty wakened by the Prince’s kiss. (And) “I am also sorry that reading aloud has gone out, at least in the families we know.”      As stores push out left over Christmas stock and bring in the spring, you may already be dreaming of a garden. Well Gladys says, “Planting is an act of faith.  The small envelopes of minute hard particles have no slightest suggestion of the tender sweet corn, the snow peas, the dark and juicy beefsteak tomatoes that are somehow in them… (later she writes) as I snip the tips of the first scallions, I am always feeling that one of the most hopeful things about mankind is that we go right on planting when the season comes, despite bombs, wars, world crises.  There is a basic faith in mankind that planting is a secure thing.”      As she takes us through June, she brings me back to the warmth and hope of the year ahead.  Gladys writes about her dogs and their personalities. How little they can be changed and how wonderful each breed is.  And then of course there are strawberries. With a little powdered sugar and topped with a fluff of whipped cream. “Ah, that is fine fare for a June night supper.”      July brings us to bird watching.  Gladys says; “Watching the birds gives me much thinking about the universe we inhabit.  For the birds are a whole world, all by themselves. Nobody could compass all of the bird life there is on this planet-- understand all the migrations, interpret all the ways. But how it extends our lives to observe what small bits we can of these mysterious winged folk, and how wonderful a world is which is furnished with birds!”      As I read and write about Stillmeadow Daybook I wonder how many of you reading this write like Gladys?  How many of you keep journals or observations tucked away about the days of your lives--or begin such a thing at the kick off of a new year.  I can easily imagine Gladys with a pen and a notebook writing down a few paragraphs each day, and when a subject touches her, she just adds on.      I loved what she wrote about teachers in the September section.  “An inspired teacher not only teaches the subject, but rouses intellectual curiosity about a hundred other things.”      Gladys did make me laugh and add a new word to my vocabulary that I never learned in school; “sometimey.”  “That Becky is sure sometimey. Sometimes she like to be with folks, and sometimes she like to be alone. I am a sometimey person too.  Sometimes I like to be all alone and listen to the sound of leaves about to fall, which is the first sound of September.”      In November she talks about sorting books and I loved “Every book was somebody’s dream once, the best as well as the worst.  Every book represents, I think, dusting away, hours of struggle, anguish, some joy, much pain. For who of us can ever write the book which lies in the secret places of the mind.”  Or my favorite line “I suppose Moses was satisfied with the Ten Commandments because he only copied them down. If he had made them up, he would have fretted over some of them afterward.”      Perhaps her end of year philosophy touches all of us, “One should never get attached to things…This is a good stern philosophy, I thought, but not for me.”  Gladys went on to write, “Anything anybody needs, I am glad to part with. But things like Mama’s monkey pitcher and the deep green goblets from the captain’s attic in Maine - these have value for me, I admit, far beyond any value they should have.”  Surely, like me, you know what Gladys is talking about here. But Gladys has a lot to say as she remarks on the passing of the seasons and another line that called to me in December, “It is as much with life, I suspect, the richness is there, it one opens one’s eyes to see it, and one’s ears to hear it.”      Your past year may have seemed like a nightmare or even perhaps a fairy tale, but one thing is for sure. You have a new year ahead of you. Look for the silver lining in life’s lessons and you may become much richer than you think. I'm starting the year reading a few fairy tales out loud to my grandsons...

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