Roots and wings

While searching for a book on my shelves the other day, I realized I still owned some of the earliest books I ever bought or was given. That either makes me a hoarder, or someone who zealously keeps what’s always mattered. Among them was The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse, one of dozens of animal tales by Thornton W. Burgess. I was fascinated by the natural world and learned to read on this series with its subtle lessons about morals.

At twelve, I received the greatest gift of all from my father: The Concise Oxford Dictionary. I now own several dictionaries, but that first one remains my go-to volume for spelling and meaning despite much speedier online availability. It’s been repaired more times than I can count. There are a few keepsakes between the leaves that I stumble upon such as my guest ribbon to see Freddie Mercury and Queen at the Canadian National Exhibition in 1980.

I seem to have fallen heir to several bibles including one given to my family (complete with a photo of me at four in short pants and a beanie cap), another with my mother’s name written in her own hand, and a more ancient copy that has a piece of blank prescription paper inside so I guess it came from my druggist grandfather who retired around 1950.

Finally, there’s How the Great Religions Began, written by Joseph Gaer in 1929 and published as a paperback in 1963 when I bought it. As a Presbyterian, taken to church so often as a boy that I concluded I had attended sufficiently for a lifetime, maybe I was looking for new paths. Or maybe I was just curious. Still am. Like those old books, some things don’t change.

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