Wednesday 10 July 2024

A Little Golden Book

I have been in a reflective mood the past few days. Perhaps it's the heatwave engulfing us in the high mountain desert where I live that sucks the very air out of my lungs the minute the sun comes into view. I know I have altered my daily routine quite drastically for the next week or so to accommodate the persistent misery. The weeds will be left to grow without constant interference on my part and the grass will remain uncut until the triple digit temperatures recede. But I will arise early, or go out after dusk if the mosquitos cooperate, to water my flowers and garden because I can't bear to see anything growing die--with the exception of previously mentioned noxious weeds and flying insects that love taking bites from my exposed flesh. 

An angry yellow jacket bit into my elbow Saturday night as I leaned over the deck to water a plant the sprinklers had missed. Apparently he and his friends had built a nest underneath the ledge that I had somehow missed. I swatted at him with my free hand and he managed to get a finger and my forehead before flying away. I had forgotten how horribly one of their bites hurts, but I knew what to do since this wasn't the first time it had happened. After scrubbing each affected area with soapy water, I turned to my book on essential oils. Basil was called for and it was sitting on the shelf right in front of me. I generously applied it to all three affected areas and waited as patiently as I could--without feeling too sorry for myself. Within an hour the penetration lumps, blotchy red and puffy skin and pain were gone. What a blessing it was to know what to do and have the needed materials on hand. 

Needless to say, I took the long end of a broom handle to that nest and three other smaller ones as soon as those none-too-friendly beasties with their long, yellow and black stripped, segmented bodies were no longer quite so active. Unfortunately, there is a fast-growing and much bigger nest under a peaked eve on the back of my house that will have to be dealt with by a professional, or later in the fall when the pesky critters are hibernating. I really don't want to be standing twenty feet in the air on a ladder and have an entire hive of them come after me. I might not be so lucky a second time.

Perhaps being attacked in such a vicious way has inadvertently added to my apathy and loss of energy when it comes to doing anything more strenuous than cleaning a closet, washing a few dishes or reading a book. But that inactivity has brought me to the realization that it's okay to take a break from the routine tasks of living occasionally and contemplate the more important reasons for being alive--especially now when the world is in such turmoil and we are facing the most important election of our lifetime. 

Two Christmas's ago my youngest sister sent each of us siblings a book that has sat on my dest without being opened until today. Perhaps I thought I was too grown up to read a book titled Everything I Need to Know I learned from a Little Golden Book, but I'm so glad I allowed the child within to surface for a few minutes this afternoon. Looking at the pictures I remember from my own childhood and reading brief words from some of the books I loved most like The Poky Little Puppy and The Tree Little Kittens, I felt some of that awe and wonderment from childhood return and felt much lighter inside than I have for quite some time.

Diane Muldrow, a longtime editorial director at Golden Books, made a few comments in the introduction that really hit home for me. She talked about being tantalized by the golden-edged books we saw on shelves at stores everywhere and how much we cherished looking at the pictures after scrawling our names inside the front cover where it said This Book Belongs To . . . . I remember that well and still have a few of the ones I got as a child.

Times were definitely much simpler back them, and I'm sure I learned as much from those little books of childish wisdom as I did from any adult because they spoke to me on a level I could understand using animals I loved to tell their stories. But we grow up and are forced to look at our lives through different lenses. Sadly, many of us don't much like what we see.

Muldrow states, "Ironically, in this health-conscious, ecologically aware age of information, many of us have over borrowed, overspent, overeaten, and generally overdosed on habits or ways of life that aren't good for us--or for our world. The chickens have come home to roost, and their names are Debt, Depression, and Diabetes.

"How did we get here? How, like Tootle the Train, did we get so far off track? Perhaps it's time to revisit these beloved stories and start all over again. Trying to figure out where you belong, like Scuffy the Tugboat? Maybe, as time marches on, you're beginning to feel like you resemble the Saggy, Baggy Elephant.

"Or perhaps your problems are more sweeping. Like the Poky Little Puppy, do you seem to be getting into trouble rather often and missing out on the strawberry shortcake in life? Maybe this book can help you? After all, Little Golden Books were first published during the dark days of World War II, and they've been comforting people during trying times ever since--while gently teaching us thing or two. And they remind us that we've had the potential to be wise and content all along."

Best introduction to a book that I've read for a very long time and the verbiage and pictures inside didn't disappoint. Just to tantalize your imagination and get it moving again, here are three excerpts. "Is your life starting to feel like a circus? Don't panic . . . Today's a new day! Get dressed first thing. (Sweatpants are bad for morale. Put on something nice.) Have some pancakes. Get some exercise everyday. Frolic. Daydream. Go on a joyride. Stroll. Bird-watch. Treat yourself. The simplest things are often the most fun!

". . . . Dare to explore. What's out there for you? Express yourself. Try a new look! Be unique. Just don't go overboard. Start planning that dream too. Soon you'll be on your way. Be open to making new friends . . . even if you're very, very shy. Keep in touch. Hang out. Steer clear of shady characters. Be discriminating. Choose your companions wisely. 

". . . . Let your children know you love them. Work hard. Play hard. But not too hard. Do no harm. Be proud of your country. Don't let the parade pass you by! Think big! Toot your own horn! Believe in Santa Clause . . . Love at first sight. . . and that your ship will come in. As long as you do, your life is bound to be golden!"

It's a book most every adult can relate to and would be a welcome gift to anyone who likes to read or is feeling a little down. I know it stopped me from my spiral thinking and helped me see how truly blessed I am to have a life, a home, a family, a mind unafraid to travel and something important to do each day. There's not anything outside my circle of influence I can change and probably very little within it. But it's not healthy to think about seemingly unsolvable problems all the time.

What is healthy is to thank God for our daily blessings. Sometimes we may not readily see them, but that only means we are concentrating on something else. The hot weather I'm experiencing right now won't last forever. It will be fall soon and I'll have my small harvest of things that are important to me. Few people love gardening the way I do, but they love other things that I don't. What a marvelous world we live in and how blessed we are as Christians to know where we came from, why we are here, and where we will be going when this life is over. 

I want to stop borrowing trouble and live in the moment because that's all any of us can count on.

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