I didn’t read much as a kid, beyond a library of Garfield and Shel Silverstien (both quality literature I still stand by as my foundation). Over the years, there were a few school-mandated books (Island of the Blue Dolphins? This is honestly the only one I remember), but I read them begrudgingly at best, and they never had a chance to be enjoyed.  Reading was simply not something I did for fun (Excepting the aforementioned titles).

Somehow though, early on, my mother managed to get a few gems into my hands and heart, C.S. Lewis and Madeline L’Engle first among the classics that would truly stick with me through the ages. I devoured them as a child, and I have reread the tales of Narnia and the Time Quintent more times than I can remember. I’ve read them to my children. I’ve read them to myself. And every few years, I have to do it again.

Recently I was challenged to go after a childhood favorite with new eyes, a sort of practice in seeing and change and playfulness. Since there are very few to choose from (above is a fairly exhaustive list), and since Narnia has required new eyes of me many times already, it was the natural choice. So I skipped down to the basement to see if I might chance upon my childhood boxed set. And there it was.

It has seen better years. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, read considerably more times than the rest, consists at this point of as much tape as paper. And still entire folios fall out at my feet. Everything is gooed together–thanks to the wide assortment of inappropriate tape-types–and yellowing out of control, but not a single page has gone missing entirely.

And while I’m not a book-sniffer, the first crack of Lewis transports me.

  • The giant house I grew up in, a six-toed cat in my lap, an unnecessary ACE bandage wrapping my wishully-mangled forearm, and Narnia in my ‘good’ hand.
  • The northwoods cabin my first marriage incubated in, blankets piled on to supplement the budget-busting baseboard heat, back when now-adult Rachel was just a twinkle in our eyes.
  • A cardboard house at Cousin Zachary’s, where five-year-old Rachel could be found leaning out the window with the same copy of The Last Battle that followed me through life, rocketing through with the fervor of a new (young!) reader.
  • The couch–still the centerpiece of our Colfax home–that adorned the first house I owned in Menasha, me snatching chapters while children slept.
  • All the favorite read-aloud spots here in Colfax: The same couch, following us through life; any of many trampolines migrating between sun and shade as the weather dictated; under bunkbeds and atop stuffed animals; all the places the girls would gather to hear each installment of Aslan’s story, held nearly as rapt as Winnie the Pooh.

And a smattering of times and places in between, when Clive would appear for an encore anew.

I’m looking forward to this, the next trip through Narnia. In front of the fire.

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

He’s not a tame lion,

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