Perhaps it was because I was so terribly nearsighted, and the fact that we owned a television that only was turned on for shows that my parents liked, and because I knew that I was an awkward girl who didn’t attract friends, I sought information, companionship, and escape in books. Almost every noble and good thing I learned before I was ten years old came from books, including the Bible. I fell in love with books. A whole world, unlike the unhappy one of my home, was inside their covers.
I was a compliant child and rarely got into trouble. But one of the worst punishments ever inflicted on me – far more memorable to this day than anything physical – was when my mother took a half-read book away from me. Did I deserve this? Undoubtedly. She had given me The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes which contained several of that detective’s most famous cases for Christmas. Sometime a day or so later she told me to vacuum and dust my room. I shut the door, turned on the vacuum with every intention of doing what she said, but saw the open book on my bed and began reading it. I never noticed the vacuum running as I finished one adventure and began another – but my mother did! And to my great distress she took the book away from me for a week. It sat on her bedside table taunting me for seven of the longest days of my life.
During the summertime, I would go out onto our Bermuda grass lawn and push aside the long branches of a weeping willow tree. There in the whispering hollow near the trunk, I would sit there for hours reading. No one could see me, and I saw nothing else but the pictures in my mind. To this day a weeping willow tree portrays protection and peace to me.
Did you ever go and hide to read when you were young? Where did you go?