Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lark Rise to Candleford, by Flora Thompson

My parents were born in the 1920s, and grew up on farms in rural North Carolina, as had their parents before them.   They raised tobacco and corn, grew much of their own food in sizable gardens, were entertained by radio shows first heard through hand-made crystal radio sets, and viewed the world as an enormous place, extending far away into the mists of distance in every direction.  This was a world very different from the post-war baby-boom housing-development country into which I was born.

My father told me about catching bumblebees, tying strings to their legs to tether them, and watching them fly in circles around his head.  My mother showed me how to hook two violets together and play tug-of-war.  Parents and grandparents taught me about the sweet drops in the center of honeysuckle blossoms.  Visiting my uncles' farm, I saw the giant green "tobacco worm" caterpillars that live on tobacco plants, and saw my grandmother cooking on a wood stove.

Although she was born decades earlier and on the other side of the Atlantic, Flora Thompson's stories of her childhood and youth remind me of the stories I heard from my parents and grandparents.