Monday, July 23, 2018

The wisdom of Cynthia Rylant

It's a sleepy afternoon here in Minneapolis. The windows are all open and sometimes a Summer breeze reaches through and makes everything... perfect. I am sitting on a couch with my wife feeling happy. And I am thinking about ambition, and I am thinking about how I try, every day, when I write my blog post. And I am thinking about how I always somehow succeed and fail at the same time.

Before I started to write this I had a corn tortilla quesadilla: two corn tortillas with Cedar Grove Extra Sharp Cheddar in between, sauteed in olive oil, salt, and lime juice. Before that I read an old kids' book by Cynthia Rylant, who is a very popular writer around my house these days. The book was a Cobble Street Cousins book called Some Good News.

In the Cobble Street Cousins books three nine year old cousins, Tess, Lily, and Rosie are happily living with their young Aunt while their parents are touring with the ballet for a year.

A lot of books I read have evisceration, or ancient curses and prophecies, or saving the world- definitely lots of saving the world. This book is sort of opposite to all that. Nothing much happens in this book. The Cobble Street Cousins, who get along quite well, decide to make a newspaper. They do. They print 25 copies and hand them out. It's charming and it all goes nicely.

That's about it.

Mostly I am telling you all this so you will have a kind of context for the following passage that takes place during an amiable get together at the end of the book.

"Michael is studying to be a botanist," Lily told Mr. Harrison.

"How nice," said the elderly man. "What a wonderful way to spend one's life, studying plants."

Michael smiled.

He liked Mr. Harrison already.

"I want to spend my life singing," said Tess.

"I want to spend mine writing," said Lily.

Everyone looked at Rosie.

"I want cats," said Rosie.

They all laughed.

Why am I telling you this?

I want cats.

How about this:

I would like to have less ambition and more fun.

Am I having fun now? You ask.

Yeah, sure, when the breeze comes in.

And that time I said I want cats.


  1. Well, Rylant's "Islander" was a good read, thank you. And who these days could resist a book titled "Some Good News"? HCL has one's checked out, but I'm number 1 on the request list. Would it be a fair guess that the one copy is at your house?

    1. It's a good guess, but it's returned via MELSA, so it could be years before you see it.


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