This link takes you to a moving short piece on NPR by Julie Zickafoose, called “The First Cut Is the Deepest,” about her response when a neighbor decides to cut down a big, sheltering tulip tree that provides privacy between her land and his. My sister Emily, who wrote to me today about her idiosyncratic love of gravel (ok, Em) and who might consider starting a blog of her own, recommended this story to me a while ago. It’s surprising — you think you know how it’ll end, and then it doesn’t.
This picture is the view out the window that’s over the window seat and between two closets in our new bedroom. From anywhere in the room — standing near the door, sitting on the bed, hovering near the window — a person can see the beautiful, mature Japanese maple that our friend Rich estimates is older than the house.
Looking out, I feel like Heidi from the Johanna Spyri novel for children, which I recall loving as much as this blogger did. This is the same version I read as a child. It seems to me we owned this book, and that it wasn’t borrowed only once from the library, and I read parts of it over and over. Why was I so attracted to stories about orphaned or independent girls who lived in some sort of extreme circumstances that they eventually tamed or softened? (Other examples are Jane Eyre, Little Princess, Secret Garden, Mrs. Mike, the Little House series, all of Nancy Drew, and Tree Grows in Brooklyn.) Perhaps these are the girl versions of the same forces at work in Moby Dick, although, as I told Grace last night after she strangely asked me about the whale, the captain dies chasing his blank nemesis. Heidi, Jane, Laura, and all the rest — they live to tell about it.