The Shores of Lake Umbagog

I went down to the flea market in Hadley Sunday and picked up a book called We Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich. It was in a bunch of books that once belonged to a religious person named Ethel Holmes, who bought it the year it came out, 1942.

It was the only secular book among them. It was so out of place I can only conclude that Ethel and Louise must have known one another.

I found a book about the prophecies of Daniel that looked good and then I saw Louise’s. There was a map on the inside cover and I saw Lake Umbagog, where I once went canoeing as a callow youth. We used to call it Lake UMbagog, but I gather it’s UmBAYgog. Whatever.

The booth was empty and I had to ask around to find the guy who was selling Ethel’s books. The neighboring sellers pointed him out to me.

You don’t grab a book you really want and then ask what it costs. You leave the books in the box and gesture vaguely toward them and ask, “How much for books?”

This guy sized me up and said, “A buck.”

I hate it when people size you up. You wonder if somebody else might get a better price, but the guy has your number. Well, after all, I did ask around.

But for a buck, I’ve already gotten two or three good movies worth of enjoyment, and I’ve only read the first hundred pages.

What’s it like living on the shores of Lake Umbagog in 1942? Well it takes a whole chapter to explain what Louise and her husband Ralph do for a living. They live on a five-mile stretch of road and own four cars. It’s extemely interesting, if you’re interested.

I’ll be posting some samples of Louise Rich’s writing. It’s really superb, but you have to get a decent size sample to appreciate it.

Reading this book reminded me of the tag sale in Northfield that I almost didn’t stop at where I got a signed copy of Mary Phylinda Dole‘s authobiography or the times I first stumbled on Dame Shirley and Isabella Bird and Harry Golden.

It may be that I’m the only person in the world who could possibly enjoy this book, but that just makes it all the more enjoyable.