Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
April 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor comes to the Rochester Civic Theatre for a night of stories, songs, poetry, and humor. Tickets $50 and up
February 19, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 2 of 2. Tickets $30+
February 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 1 of 2. Tickets $30+
It Is Time
by Laura Davies Foley
It is time to gather sticks of wood
so we can cook the sap that we have drawn from the earth.
We will bore holes into the maple trees,
collect buckets, stir the froth as it boils.
Then we’ll finish it on the stove in the barn.
We will do this together,
balancing the heavy iron vat,
pouring the hot syrup,
tasting the sweetness.
We did it through the pregnancies, the births.
Let’s do it once again.
And then we will cultivate the honey bees
and tend to the alfalfa in the fields.
It will be the best of times once more,
fourteen loads of fresh hay,
and my hair will be long and we will collect raspberries,
and make a pie.
The garden will yield a bumper crop of beets and basil,
and we will split wood all fall,
and stack it,
and be ready for the winter,
when you will weave a blanket on your loom
with dog hair and horse hair and my hair
and some dyed wool too.
And I will nurse the babies by the fire,
and neither of us will grow older,
and we will never forget,
and nothing will ever die.
We need to gather sticks now
and build a fire quickly,
before the season passes on,
before the field,
where you are sleeping,
“It Is Time” by Laura Davies Foley from Mapping the Fourth Dimension. © Harbor Mountain Press, 2006. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It was on this day in 1935 that Thomas Wolfe’s novel Of Time and the River (books by this author) (1935) was published. The manuscript for it was once as lengthy as Proust’s In Remembrance of Things Past; it was an epic tale composed of multiple volumes. His publisher at Scribner’s, Maxwell Perkins, convinced him that it should be edited down to one volume. Wolfe dedicated that completed novel, Of Time and the River (1935), to Maxwell Perkins.
It’s the birthday of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John McPhee, (books by this author) born in Princeton, New Jersey (1931), who is known for his detailed, long-format novelistic nonfiction writing on eclectic topics — these include book-length works devoted to citrus fruits, deltoid pumpkin seeds, binding energy curves, farmers’ markets, merchant marine ships, the currents of the Mississippi River, birchbark canoe construction, and shifting seismic plates. He’s especially found a niche in geological history, and it was for his tetralogy on the geology of America, called Annals of the Former World, that he won the Pulitzer Prize.
He’s published more than two dozen books, but he almost never writes more than one single-spaced page a day, and he doesn’t feel prolific. But he said, “You know, you put an ounce in a bucket each day, you get a quart.”
He’s written for The New Yorker magazine for more than 40 years, and he teaches journalism at Princeton. He wrote in his book Oranges (1967):
“An orange grown in Florida usually has a thin and tightly fitting skin, and it is also heavy with juice. Californians say that if you want to eat a Florida orange you have to get into a bathtub first. California oranges are light in weight and have thick skins that break easily and come off in hunks. The flesh inside is marvelously sweet, and the segments almost separate themselves. In Florida, it is said that you can run over a California orange with a ten-ton truck and not even wet the pavement.”
It’s the birthday of novelist Kenneth Grahame (books by this author), born in Edinburgh, Scotland (1859). After his mother died, Kenneth and his siblings were sent to live with their grandmother in the village of Cookham Dean in southern England. His grandmother’s home, called the Mount, was a rambling old house, with a big attic and garden to play in. He loved exploring the nearby River Thames and the Bisham Woods.
Grahame was an excellent student, and he hoped to go to Oxford, but his once-wealthy family could no longer afford it, and he never went to college. Instead, at the age of 19, he got a job at the Bank of England. He was nostalgic for his childhood, and he used his salary from the bank to collect children’s toys — wooden toys and stuffed animals — which filled his flat and surprised unsuspecting guests. He wrote down ideas for stories in his bank ledgers, and published several books, glorifying childhood: The Pagan Papers (1892), The Golden Age (1895), and Dream Days (1898).
When Grahame was 38, still a bachelor, he met 35-year-old Elspeth Thomson. They got married, and had a son named Alistair — he was a weak and sickly child, blind in one eye. He told his son bedtime stories about a character named Mr. Toad and his friends Ratty, Mole, and Badger. Grahame drew on his own happy memories of his sheltered childhood by the River Thames, and he turned the Bisham Woods into the Wild Wood. Eventually, he wrote these stories down and collected them in a book, which he called The Wind in the Willows. It was rejected over and over again, and when it was finally published, it got terrible reviews — critics who loved Grahame’s earlier books thought that The Wind in the Willows paled in comparison. But it soon proved to be incredibly popular, in both England and America, and went through four editions in six months.