So this week I was going through shelves, pulling out books and dividing up keepers from those that aren't keepers and need to find new homes and new readers. And I am discovering books that I have always meant to read but never have.
|Not exactly the Artic - A prairie winter.|
Nunaga was one of those books. I'm embarrassed to say I've had it for longer than I've had the current house. Which, let me tell you is many years. I never cracked the cover of the book. So I picked it up and opened its well-worn cover and was pleasantly surprised. It's the true life account of a young man's career move to the Canadian Artic in the 1950's. There are great places in this book where you get a look at life as it was - at the Artic when the Inuit still built igloos and dogsleds were still the primary mode of transport, at a point when everything was on the brink of change - and it's fascinating.
But it gets even more so when I mention to my mother that I'm finally reading the book she passed on to me to read with the assurance I could keep it. She then tells me that the book has an unusual connection. The book arrived in my mother's hands because a friend of my grandmother's was related to the author. Now only an author could be excited by the unique route a book may take to get into the hands of a reader. Even years after publication - it's still fascinating stuff, really.
But back to the path of how this particular book made it's journey through the hands of one of the most unique individuals I have ever met to finally find its way to my bookshelf. It originally belonged to a market gardener in the Qu'Appelle Valley. He was a Scottish immigrant, a widower who had befriended my grandmother and visited her often. I remembered that I loved his laid back easy style but I also remember my grandmother bemoaning the fact that he was really not the man of her dreams. In fact sometimes I think she preferred not to have him sitting on her couch for fear he might get it dirty.
But what can you expect from a literally "down to earth" long-ago widowed market gardener who has been living alone on a prime piece of land in cottage country without a single modern amenity including water. Water - well, he pumped the water from the lake. What he used for washing, you know as a child I never thought about it and I never asked. I know he had electricity but no television. And I remember his furniture was that old-fashioned, over-stuffed, stiff cushioned variety with intricately carved but well worn wooden arms - from generations ago. But all that is a sidebar to the stories he would tell. And he topped it all off with his stories of "coming over" as he called immigration. I remember he ran that market garden until well into his nineties.
With that one book, I expected a journey into the past, and another culture - never did I expect to touch the edges of my childhood. Any unexpected moments in your day?