In the Oregon Hills

Hood River’s county library, a fine example of Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy.

I can’t remember how I learned to read. I don’t recall the teacher’s patience to help me sound out vowels and consonants. Nor the prompts to form these sounds into words. Was I encouraged at home by my parents? If so, there’s no memory. That process disappeared with time. Yet, the gradual step by step building of my literacy worked. I’ve been a life long reader, taking pleasure from books equal to any experience I’ve known.

In fact, throughout my life, I’ve regarded libraries as sanctuaries. They’ve acted as safe harbors to which I retreat when feeling unmoored. For now, though, our local county library operates like a takeout restaurant. There are curbside services only. Its stacks are unavailable for browsing; the serenity of its reading rooms enjoyed only by mice.

Our son, Isaac, leading his children into an uncertain future.

In March, when schools closed due to the pandemic, my granddaughter was beginning the process of stringing together letter sounds into written words. Her enthusiasm was boundless. However, the classroom instruction detoured into a virtual experience. I expect her reading prowess will eventually flourish despite the interruption. Yet, pervasive uncertainty, one of the troubling consequences of the pandemic, leads me to wonder if, for some children, enthusiasm delayed may lead to enthusiasm denied.

Our little Oregon hill town of Hood River reports over 220 cases of the disease. Most have resolved, noone has died, and few need hospitalization. Nonethless, the positive tests indicate Covid-19 is present, circulating, and finding opportunity to spread. Public schools, due to open after Labor Day, plan to operate virtually for, at least, the first semester.

Elsewhere in the USA, the pandemic continues to hold sway. 1,000+ Americans die each day. Our nation’s uneven response to the disease provides fertile ground for growth. The White House plan for combatting Covid-19 is that there is no plan.

Recent reads with a spooky cat bookmark.

Decisions to open schools crumble as families fear for the safety of their children. Parents will not be bullied by what’s brewing in the cauldron of the president’s ego. Daily, controversies are ginned up to distract from the reality of his failure. Even my California cool 😎 is exhausted by the unceasing drama.

Meanwhile, I read to relax. Recently, my sister, a librarian in Milwaukee, WI, sent me two books, Camino Winds by John Grisham and Across the Great Lakes by Lee Zacharias. Grisham’s book adheres to his cash cow formula: all plot and no prose. What he does, he does well and I enjoyed the escapist fluff.

The other novel is a reminiscence of a child’s journey. It relies on vivid characters and dialogue. Readers experience a unique world with its own vocabulary and … words, beautiful words.

Until next time, here’s a new song.

In the Oregon Hills


18 thoughts on “In the Oregon Hills

  1. Nothing quite like the Oregon hills, and being back in this area this month and driving through Hood River the other day, even amid all the chaos of today – I still see it has a perfect environment for growing up, many “vivid characters and dialogue.” Watching my nieces and nephews, I see the unique talent of children to pursue knowledge and understanding, through books and through life…with the enthusiasm of family to push them further. Great to read your words again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John, your writing about books and libraries and reading brings back memories of our common experiences since the 4th grade. As idle, complaining kids with nothing to do, I remember your Mom saying, “If you are bored, go to the library”. Off we went on a long trek across South city to the old library on Grand Avenue and returning with books in hand. Trips to the library became a regular journey and experience every summer. Do you recall the reading projects and contests in Ms Runstadler’s 5th grade class in which we would post our book reports to see who would win the prize for most books read? Reading has been and still is a pleasure and learning experience to me. Thank you to your Mom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Lee. What a nice surprise. I am still in the midst of the book. Enchanting tale and I keep wondering if I should insert one of Fern’s descriptive quotes into the blog. Such prose! 😎

      Thank you for stopping by. 😎

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reading gives me a kind of comfort that not much else can. For my birthday I received six new books! Good times ahead for me. I just finished Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson, a sweet and beautiful epistolary novel inspired by Seamus Heaney’s poem “The Tollund Man.” Also, your library comments remind me of Susan Orlean’s amazing book: The Library Book about the history of libraries. Thanks for your groovy post!

    Liked by 1 person

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