Lois Lowry's Blog
Home Again Home Again
I drove down from Maine first thing yesterday morning, after the previous day's storm had ended. About twenty miles into the drive, I thought: I didn't close the garage door. Or did I?
Once you start thinking along those lines (which include Did I turn the iron off? Or Did I leave the coffee pot on?) then you are doomed. But this is where cell phones earn their keep. I called a friend and asked him to go and look. And of course the door was closed. But if I hadn't called....
Snow showers turned to sunshine as I entered Masaschusetts and I got home to find all of our snow cover gone, rained away. So it is briefly mud season here but of course it will snow again...and again...before winter ends.
There is a ton of mail to answer and scheduling to arrange. I have been invited to receive an honorary degree from a college (St. Mary's), in South Bend, Indiana; but I have to get to South Bend the day after a speaking engagement in Wallingford, Connecticut. This is do-able, but requires lots of logistics.
This will be my fourth honorary degree, incidentally, so people will have to call me Doctor Doctor Doctor Doctor Lowry. And I will tell them to take two aspirin and call me in the morning, hah.
I copied onto this blog a few days ago an article from the NY Times which quoted me talking about Katherine Paterson and how I briefly felt mean-spirited and proprietary when it was revealed that we both had the same favorite childhood book. Katherine and I have now talked back and forth by email and agreed that it is okay and neither of us will grab it away from the other and say "Mine, nyah nyah!"
But she tells me that HER copy (this is of The Yearling) did not have illustrations! Part of my passion about that book came from the NC Wyeth paintings that illustrated it so perfectly. So when I got home I scanned one of my favorites and emailed it to Katherine. This painting is called "The burial of Fodder-Wing." For those of you who don't know the book, the main character is a boy, an only child, named Jody who lives with his desperately poor parents on a small hardscrabble farm in western Florida. His best---and really only---friend is a crippled (sorry, but that's the word the book uses) boy named Fodder-Wing who has an almost magical gift for communicating with animals, often wounded and damaged ones, that he befriends and tames. The death of Fodder-wing is one of those book moments that is completely unforgettable. Here is the passage when the boy, Jody, is taken into the room to see his friend:
Fodder-wing lay with closed eyes, small and lost in the center of the great bed. He was smaller than when he had been sleeping on his pallet. He was covered with a sheet, turned back beneath his chiln. His arms were outside the sheet, folded across his chest, the palms of the hands falling outward, twisted and clumsy, as in life. Jody was frightened. Ma Forrester sat by the side of the bed. She held her apron over her head and rocked herself back and forth. She flung down the apron.
She said, "I've lost my boy. My pore crookedy boy."
She covered herself again and swayed from side to side. She moaned, "The lord's hard. Oh, the lord's hard."
Jody wanted to run away. The bony face on the pillow terrified him. It was Fodder-wing and it was not Fodder-wing. Buck drew him to the edge of the bed.
"He'll not hear, but speak to him."
Jodys throat worked. No words came. Fodder-wing seemed made of tallow, like a candle. Suddenly he was familiar.
Jody whispered, "Hey."
Re-reading the passage now, I am remembering first hearing it, because my mother read the book to me, and then reading it to myself. I was eight, or perhaps nine. It changed my literate life. I could never read The Bobbsey Twins again.