There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.

May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Little Women

"I am not afraid of storms, 
for I am learning how to sail my ship."
~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

My very first edition
of Little Women.

This morning, when I read on one of my social media feeds that Little Women was first published on this day in 1868, it brought a flood of happy memories back. I bought this little abridged version during the summer of of 1966 on a family camping trip to New England. I had my allowance saved up and stored in my vacation purse, so when we stopped in Burlington, Vermont, I went straight to Woolworth's with my sister in search of treasures.

A cedar souvenir much like the
one I bought in Burlington, Vermont.

Even then I was a fast shopper, no hemming or hawing for me, and I chose my treasures immediately--this copy of Little Women, a little souvenir cedar box with Burlington, Vermont stamped on it, and a small, fringed, leather purse to put the rest of my meagre savings into. I can still smell the cedar box to this day and my first Little Women is lovingly tucked into a chest upstairs, somehow surviving 50 years and half that many moves.

When Mom and Dad were finished loading up with supplies for four (hungry, growing) kids at the Burlington A&P, and we had unloaded most of our vacation allowance at Burlington's Woolworth's and Dairy Queen, it was back to our campsite overlooking Lake Champlain. Camping right on the shore of Lake Champlain is one of the best memoires of my dad that I have, and you can read about that and his pancakes here.

It was rainy and stormy that afternoon, better for reading than for swimming, so I settled right into my sleeping bag at my end of our camper and started reading. One of our favourite games to play was 'Authors', and it was exciting to be able to actually read one of the books on an author's card.  Ivanhoe, The Deerhunter, and The Pickwick Papers were a mystery to me, but here I was reading Little Women. At one point I even used the Louisa May Alcott card as a bookmark, just so I could see her lovely, soft face as I read. I read and read and read that afternoon, listening to the soft lapping of the lake in the background, and now Lake Champlain and Little Women are forever bonded together in my mind.

So that summer of 1966, as we travelled from Michigan to New Hampshire, Vermont, and finally to Maine, I soaked up New England like a sponge, starting with Little Women. As I got older, I went on to read the full editions of Little Women, Little Men, and An Old Fashioned Girl, always crying my eyes out over Beth as we all have, wanting to throw snow balls and ice skate with Laurie, and to be a mom just like Marmee. In addition to Laura Ingalls Wilder from the plains of South Dakota, it's Jo, Meg, Beth, Amy and Marmee that I carry in my heart, mind and soul -- so that when some people who come stay with us in our English B&B say (sometimes disappointingly, sometimes just surprised) "Oh, you're AMERICAN", I stand tall, hold my head high, smile and say, "Yes I am!"

“I like good strong words that mean something…”
~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Two of my treasured books
 published in London, in 1880.


  1. Lots of happy memories here! I lived near Concord, MA and we visited Orchard House several times over the years! We also played Authors growing up, and it still resonates we me when I read those author's books! And all those places in New England and Upstate New York, we traveled with my family, too, about those same years! Who knows, maybe our paths crossed and we didn't even know it!! Thanks for the reminders of some of the good things about being American!! Blessings!! Jane xo

    1. I'm sure we crossed paths Jane--we had to have!! If you saw a big family in a bright yellow Impala station wagon and feet hanging out the back window, that was us!!! xxxooo