‘Night closed in.
The Limberlost stirred gently, then shook herself, growled, and awoke around him. There seemed to be a great owl hooting from every hollow tree, and a little one screeching from every knothole. The bellowing of big bullfrogs was not sufficiently deafening to shut out the wailing of whip-poor-wills that seemed to come from every bush. Nighthawks swept past him with their shivering cry, and bats struck his face. A prowling wildcat missed its catch and screamed with rage. A straying fox bayed incessantly for its mate….’ —(from Freckles, by Gene Stratton-Porter)
Visiting a swamp in the winter might not sound attractive, but I’m actually quite excited about it.
This is no ordinary swamp, and my travel is of the armchair variety. There will likely be wool lap blankets and plenty of coffee at hand. Perhaps a bit of Scotch for the scary parts.
My reading destination? The Limberlost Swamp, made famous by writer and naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter in her beloved book, Girl of the Limberlost.
As a reader who loves books that highlight the natural world, be it fiction, non-fiction, or essay, I am looking forward to re-discovering these stories that have been loved by several generations.
As to that, I’m calling it a ‘sentimental journey’ of reading because Stratton-Porter’s books are highly sentimental, and reflect the ways, the values, and quaint conventions of her day. It is also sentimental for me because these were my mother’s favorite books. Many a time did she talk about some of the scenes she loved from these stories. I really feel that some elements of these stories inspired my own books, particularly A Garden for Allegra.
My mother loved birds, mosses, nests, the violin, romance, Thoreau…and so many elements that were woven in GSP’s books. I am sure those two would have talked ‘like a house a-fire’ had they met!
Gene Stratton-Porter was a naturalist first, a novelist second. While it was her romantic stories that sold the most books and made her famous, she was at heart, a scholar, researcher, and conservationist. She left a beautiful legacy, more of which can be read about here.
Here is a full listing of her works: (The books highlighted are my target goals for winter reading. As I finish, and write about them, I will post the links here.)
The Song of the Cardinal, 1903
At the Foot of the Rainbow, 1907
A Girl of the Limberlost, 1909
The Harvester, 1911
Michael O’Halloran, 1915
A Daughter of the Land, 1918
The Keeper of the Bees, 1921
Her Father’s Daughter, 1921
The White Flag, 1923
The Magic Garden, 1927
What I Have Done with Birds, 1907
Birds of the Bible, 1909
Music of the Wild, 1910
Moths of the Limberlost, 1912
Birds of the Limberlost, 1914
Homing with the Birds, 1919
Tales You Won’t Believe, 1925
After the Flood, 1912
POETRY AND ESSAYS
Morning Face, 1916
The Fire Bird, 1922
Jesus of the Emerald, 1923
Let Us Highly Resolve, 1927