Saturday, March 13, 2010

G.H. of the P.

What you read here below is an excerpt from my new little book, Grab Hold of the Past. What's it about? I'm glad you asked. It's my personal take on history, the writing of it, envisioning long-lost moments, as I've done in many a picture book and illustrated biography of such people as the remarkable naturalist, historian, writer, rancher, explorer, soldier, civil servant, big game hunter (don't much approve of that), dad, youngest President ever, diplomat, Theo. Roosevelt; and brilliant, talkative, and tubby John Adams, mighty under-appreciated, Founding Father-wise, stuck as he was between those tall, taciturn, handsome Virginians. You know who I mean. I stuffed this little book with useful, informative, and/or amusing, time-sucking weblinks, plus loads of quotations. Here's my favorite:
"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." L. P. [Leslie Poles] Hartley (1895-1972)

Oh wait - I love this one, too:

"There is no distance on this earth as far away as yesterday."
Robt. Nathan (1894-1985)

AIl of our moments and stories are part of us, how and who we are. Might as well dance with the tales that took us here.
We embody the memories of friends, conversations, the books we’ve read, the movies that have spilled over us in the dark; home-places, classroom embarrassments, the scents of bread baking, pencils sharpened. Being woke up by howling night-owl babies, sitting with little brothers in the back of a station wagon, watching stars appear in a deepening blue night sky framing the Technicolor rectangle of a drive-in movie. That’s history, too.
I can’t help thinking of all those people back upstream, who played their scenes earlier on. They lived out their lives in worlds where flame was all there was to keep them from freezing in the dark. They depended on horses or their own two legs to get them from one place to another. Maybe they got dressed up once or twice to get their photographs taken. We look at them looking back at us from across a canyon of years that gets wider with every tick of the clock. … You are – we are – in fact, a symphonious concoction of elements, a complex, nature-nurture combo reflecting your place and time. So it is for every individual who’s ever drawn breath. And so it is for a country. More than borders and banners, any nation is a combination of all of the stories of all of the people who’ve lived in that land all down the years of the living past.

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