As a first-grader I still remember standing in the school library, looking wide-eyed at rows and rows of shelves, reaching almost to the ceiling – all stacked with books!
In those days I had a whole lot more time for curling up on the sofa than I do now.
My biggest problem, though, was reading through my allotted only-two-books-a-week in the first day. I had to wait an entire week before checking out my next two books!
My other problem was that first-grade books are mostly full of pictures. I liked the pictures and mentally traced the different shapes and colors. But I wanted words! I was a brand-new reader, eager to plunge into the literary world at that tender age. And how I longed to assist struggling classmates pronounce those syllables.
“I before E, except after C …” I’d whisper.
“Shh, Debbie,” the teacher would say. “Let her figure it out.”
In later grades I was (finally) asked to listen and help the slower students in their reading groups. Then imagine my thrill when in middle school – aka junior high – I discovered Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew!
I still try to carve out a little time for books or blogs or an occasional magazine. This week’s column features some of my latest discoveries:
“A Sense of Yosemite” is a beautiful book of photographs and essays about our beloved national park.
Nancy Robbins’ photographic artistry graces every page, capturing the varied seasons and emotions of this treasured place, tucked in the Sierra Nevada:
“Dawn’s early light glimmering on granite cliffs,
a moonrise above wilderness peaks and storm clouds hovering low,
meadows sprinkled with the colors of springtime,
mirrored reflections in glassy water’s morning stillness,
the Milky Way set against Yosemite Valley’s silhouette,
and lady bugs, a white-headed woodpecker and other native wildlife playing or poking around among the leaves.”
Robbins grew up in San Diego, but always dreamed of moving to the high country. She’s lived in Wawona for over a decade, and is a photographer with Yosemite Conservancy.
David “Mas” Masumoto’s thoughtful essays accompany her artwork. Masumoto is a Central Valley farmer, an author, a columnist with the Fresno Bee and Sacramento Bee newspapers, and serves on several boards with national organizations.
In his introductory statements he wrote, “I related to the obscure and the unassuming in this place, basking in nature while trying to carve out our own little places on this earth … we form a relationship with Yosemite only by understanding our seemingly insignificant role as caretakers of this land while breathing in its grandeur.”
The Majestic Yosemite Hotel will always remain majestic – and will remain known as the Ahwahnee to those who knew her first. A book by Keith S. Walklet, “The Ahwahnee: Yosemite’s Grand Hotel,” includes over 100 color photos that chronicle the structure’s design and construction, as well as the famous and royal guests who’ve rested and dined in its rooms.
Yosemite Conservancy has also published the writings of John Muir, a few children’s books (including a coloring book of great landscapes and a “how-to” book on drawing birds), illustrated note cards and a note book for personal journaling. For complete information on these and more, visit www.yosemiteconservancystore.com.
Chris Enss is a New York Times best-selling author from Northern California. In over three dozen books, her stories highlight little-known and infamous characters from the Old West, in addition to 20th-century cowboys and surprising gangsters.
A few of her latest works are “Soldier, Sister, Spy, Scout” and “Mochi’s War.” Coming soon are “The Principles of Posse Management,” “Ma Barker: America’s Most Wanted Mother” and “The Pinks: The First Women Detectives, Operatives, and Spies with the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.” See details at www.chrisenss.com.
The Legends of America online store offers vintage Western magazines and Old West books on various topics, including Native American history, the Gold Rush, the Civil War and Route 66.
The Kirkus Reviews website lists 10 Outstanding Books about the West.
So many books, yet so little time to absorb the wonders of nature and humanity surrounding us. What will you be reading next?