|This is a Weekly Coffee Share Essay.|
I’m part of a small group of bloggers who stay in touch and chat about blogging, writing, or just about anything else that might be of interest.
|Link to This week’s full list|
|Link to my Story Blog: Table of Contents.|
Good day. The wave of Christmas has come, happened and passed. For us, it was nearly end-to-end joy.
Our youngest son, who is working and finishing up his undergraduate work down south in San Diego (California) is home for a few more days. The lone daughter, our middle-est, still lives with us so she can work to pay off her undergrad student loans while processing her applications to medical school. It’s a process I find crushingly slow, expensive and tedious, so I’m glad becoming a doctor is her dream and not mine. Finally, our oldest and his new bride thankfully live close enough that weekly dinners happen easily. They both came for Christmas eve, spent the night and spent the whole day with us. So, the parents got their fondest wish of having our children back under our roof to share presents, meals, conversations, brutal joking around and best of all, some focused time to better get to know our new daughter-in-law.
Our church is finding creative ways to offer opportunities to worship, fellowship and generally exercise our faith. This year, this oh – so surreal year, our musician oldest son continued as part of the worship band, and our leaders put together 3 Christmas services in a huge heated tent in our parking lot so we could socially distance (a practice that is getting very old BTW) sing out loud with others with live music and still be “outside” where the chance of spreading the corona virus should be greatly reduced. We’re thankful for these efforts, because despite the virus being plenty active in our surrounding community, we have yet to note a single person in our moderately large congregation contracting the disease.
The highlight for us (my wife, my two younger children and myself) was a unique electric guitar sole that was played by our oldest and brought a dramatic flare to one of the classic Christmas carols. Our church is not a rock-n-roll type congregation but this piece was right on the edge and we joined in with the rare cheers from the crowd who cheered for his rendition of “Come oh come Emanuele”. It was all done with the right spirit and good taste, and was a fun way to finally be back (safely) with the folks of our church. I wish I had a link to share to give you a taste of what it sounded like. If one surfaces, I’ll be sure to share it.
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This morning, as we settle down beside the Christmas tree and the few remaining piles of un-stowed gifts and stray ribbons, the house was quiet and earlier I curled up to dig into a special gift.
When I was in Jr. High School (late 1960’s) my mom bought me a book that proved to one of those books that changes you. It was “Earth Abides” by George R. Stewart (GRS). For me it was a game changer. It was a literate, readable, ecological adventure/epic that introduced me to this author and his work. GRS & Earth Abides kept me up late, made school morning miserable but worth every moment, filled my head with vivid images and interesting ways of unfolding a story — and best of all, memorable. I can hardly think of a book I’ve read that sticks so firmly in my mind.. My poor friends put up with my constant conversation about his books and I lured several into reading them with me.
I started a practice of loaning a book on the agreement that they would sign their name on an inside blank page creating a built-in loaned-to list so I knew who I could talk to about the story. By the early 1970s we effectively had our own, book club well before they were a thing. We read lots of stuff together, but GRS’s work became the foundation of our efforts.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself in Electronics Engineering trade school in San Francisco where I was frequently found prowling around the many used books stores, enjoying the many finds but always on the lookout for anything by GRS. I wrote up some of this search in my DOT story collection because one quintessential old book story owner actually knew GRS and offered to introduce us. This turned into a personal visit, that I would pay dearly to get a chance now to redo. In short, I was star-struck for the first and only time in my life that I recall being so afflicted. While the memory of that visit is priceless to me, I felt I’d all but wasted it because I struggled to engage a meaningful conversation with the one literary hero I had, and felt afterwards that I had let an amazing opportunity pass me by. My list of “I should have …” is too long to recount here, but history is now history and I can’t change any of it.
But my wife, got me this single biography of the man and this morning I began the read. The biographer (so far) did a great job of capturing both things I knew and things I did not know about GRS, and I’m loving this book so far. I fully expect it will draw me back to my collection of GRS books for a pleasant re-read of some of the stories have have very deep roots in my soul with scenes that replay in my mind even today after 50 years of living and growing and reading lots of other books.
When I decided to address this in my coffee share today, I promised myself to not turn this essay into a book review. I know that’s not what you signed up for when you clicked on my coffee share link, but if you are looking for a great read, I highly recommend:
- Earth Abides: easily one of the most memorable fictional stories I’ve ever read.
- Storm: GRS’s 1st big hit that caused the US Weather Service to begin the practice of naming in-coming storms.
- Ordeal by Hunger: the definitive, heavily researched historical fiction of the dramatic event when the late-traveling Donner Party got caught where the current day Donner Pass & Lake are located in the California Sierra Mountains where many died or nearly starved to death while trying to survive with little food in 70 foot drifts of impassible snow before being rescued. GRS put faces on those who went through this tragic and dramatic event.
Reading through his biography, I’m finding all kinds of things that leave me thinking how great Mr. Stewart and I would have been as friends and once again I regret how I let our meeting fall so short of hopes and potential.
But, 2021 is only days away and we have a new year with some challenges left over from 2020 to deal with. I plan on pressing forward with both some new writing and lots of great books to ready. Do let me know if you decide to sample any of GRS’s books. I’d love to rerun some of the chats my friends and I had at the time. I can promise you will enjoy and learn from these lessor known titles.
I do hope you’ll continue to be part of my 2021. If you’re part of the weekend coffee share group, I’ll be by your venue shortly. Blessings.