from rachel field

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Something told the wild geese

It was time to go.

Though the fields lay golden

Something whispered, – “Snow.”

Leaves were green and stirring,

Berries, luster-glossed,

But beneath warm feathers

Something cautioned, – “Frost.”

All the sagging orchards

Steamed with amber spice,

But each wild breast stiffened

At remembered ice.

Something told the wild geese

It was time to fly,–

Summer sun was on their wings,

Winter in their cry.

mary jane’s grave

I visited Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter’s gravesite in St. Paul this summer. I was surprised that her gravestone was so simple, so spare.

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There was no mention of her birthdate, no trumpeting of her accomplishments. I liked it. Its matter-of-factness seemed just right.

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wild rumpus

This summer, I made a few pilgrimages to Wild Rumpus, that beloved independent bookstore in Minneapolis.

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This place makes me want buy stacks of books, open my very own bo0kstore and get some pet chickens. Immediately. And maybe put some turquoise streaks in my hair to fit in with the booksellers.

It reminds me of the value of independent bookstores. It reminds me why Amazon is a failure when you are looking to discover and explore books. It reminds me why independent bookstores put Big Box stores to shame. It reminds me why having physical (not virtual!) gathering places to be around (and touch!) books is vital.

I read a lot about books: magazines devoted to reviewing and explaining them, blogs discussing them, etc. But it never fails that when I go into an actual bookstore I am startled to find so many gems that I had never even heard about or to explore a book that I had only read a description of.

I had an involved conversation with one of the bookkeepers about the best translation of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales (try the one translated by Tiina Nunnally), what she thought of Philip Pullman’s version of the Brothers Grimm stories (excellent) and we talked about the emergence of picture book biographies (brilliant). Where else could I have such a conversation?

When you go, let your kids walk through the purple, kid-sized door (it is jammed every time we go, but we wrangle it open because kid-sized doors are one of the delights of childhood and they are ALWAYS worth wrangling), chase some of their chickens or cats, enjoy the maze-like aisles, purchase a stack of books and buy some stickers (they have great stickers).