Lorna Stover

“The north wind doth blow,

And we shall have snow,

And what will poor robin do then?

Poor thing.

He’ll sit in a barn,

And keep himself warm,

And hide his head under his wing,

Poor thing.”

The words were fitting since the weather was frightful as we headed east on I-70 to my brother’s home in Indiana. Mother shared that when she started school, children had to memorize their first grade readers. That was when she’d learned the poem.

On short notice, mom packed a bag for a brief jaunt with us even though she had to cancel her part in delivering Meals on Wheels and was relieved the Free Lunch program didn’t need her help on Thursdays for awhile…at age 89 (almost).

An avid reader, she just finished Anita Shreve’s new book, “A Change of Altitude.” She says it is “different but interesting.”

Set in Kenya, where the author worked as a journalist early in her career, it is the story of a photojournalist and her doctor husband who go there for a year while he completes some research. The wife is bored with his project, and the story goes on from there.

The critics claim the best part of the novel is the author’s description of Kenya’s landscape, so Shreve’s dedicated fans will have to decide for themselves the book’s merit.

Mother and I recommend “Half Broke Horses” written by Jeannette Walls.

The author tells the story of her grandmother who at age 6 helped her father break horses. At 15 she left home to teach school. She survived tornadoes, droughts, floods and the Great Depression.

Walls’ grandmother was the mother of Rosemary who readers met in “The Glass Castle.” This book is labeled “fiction” even though much of it is true.

I liked Linda Clare’s “The Fence My Father Built.” Librarian Betty handed the book to me one day before Christmas and urged me to read it. One look at the cover hooked me: oven doors are partly buried to make a fence. Interesting!

Here’s the story of Muri Pond who is recently divorced. Due to cut-backs, she lost her position as librarian in the Portland School District. With no job, no home and two children to rear, she has no place to go except to seek her father’s family who lives in eastern Oregon.

Emerging from her own failed marriage and the interracial marriage her mother dragged her away from when she was small, Muri strives to find where she belongs.

Joseph Pond, her Nez Perce Native American father, recently died and left her his place. When she arrives there, Muri finds her aunt is ankle deep in a fight for water rights over the stream which flows through the land she inherited.

I hope you are entertained with Muri’s story, and that Linda Clare continues to write stories for our enjoyment.

As I put together this column, I sit snuggled in front of one of the most beautiful fireplaces that exists (in my opinion). Thanks to Charley Bolen, our family and friends have enjoyed using his creation for 30 years. He built it after seeing a brochure that advertised wood stoves. It is unique.

Charley’s family and friends were saddened at his recent death, but how fortunate many of us are to be the receivers of his talent with bricks and mortar.

In his memory, Dan and I have given to the library, “A Dog Named Christmas.” It is written by Greg Kincaid, an Olathe lawyer; it was made into a movie for television, too.

Set in Cherokee County, Kansas, in a town with a courthouse, Todd McCray, is a developmentally challenged young adult who still lives with his parents on their farm.

Todd hears that a local animal shelter is offering dogs to be fostered during Christmas, and he begs to care for one of the canines.

His father protests, but gives in and allows his son to choose a lovable pooch who Todd names “Christmas.”

It is a delightful story about goodwill to men and animals.

As the new year starts out to be frigid and glistening with snow, my wish for you is good health, happiness, and plenty of books on hand to read before a warm fire. Happy page turning!