After Christmas we took advantage of some rare time off work for Shaun and drove to Boise to ring in the new year with friends there.
Shaun discovered LibriVox a while back, and it is the best thing ever; volunteers read stories that are in the public domain. It's perfect for supplementing the slim audio book pickings that are available at our public library. We downloaded several family-friendly stories to listen to on our drive.
Maybe it's just the drive east along the gorge. Maybe it was our choice of listening material. Maybe it's this season of our lives, or a coincidence, or the fact that I was coming down with something. Whatever the reason, this drive had the same quiet, melancholic, other-worldly (or maybe next-worldly) vibe that our trip to Walla Walla did.
If you ever feel like your grip on reality is too secure (because where's the fun in that?), just drive through the landscape pictured below while listening to Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories. Ho-leeeeeeee smokes.
Shaun finally cut us off before we got quite to the end of the book, and "cut us off" is an apt expression in this case. The language was intoxicating but the ethos sad. I was well on my way to becoming a maudlin drunk.
Our remaining stories included "The Happy Prince" by Oscar Wilde and "The Light Princess" by George MacDonald. I had read them both long ago and was therefore steeling myself for the end of "The Happy Prince." Shaun, being misled by Wilde's worldly reputation, was completely gobsmacked by the ending. We both got a bit teary and had to take a moment to collect ourselves once the story ended, and that does not happen every day.
"The Light Princess" was not quite so much fun as I remembered it, and was not met with enthusiasm by any of the boys. Ah well. I think there are plenty of other George MacDonald books they will find more to their liking.
I napped because I was getting sick (and because I always sleep in the car), so I missed some of the stories and much of the view, but I'm sure the enforced rest did me good.
Nels wasn't thrilled that our story selection had featured so much death, and though the stories ultimately had "happy" endings, I could see his point. As if in keeping with the theme, we passed what we knew (or hoped) was the worst accident we'd ever see. There was no wreck on the road, but we saw a broken guard rail, a helicopter, an armada of emergency response vehicles (some en route to the scene) and semis backed up for miles. I was glad not to know the details until we arrived, and I said many prayers both when we passed the accident and before we set off for home again.
By the time we got to the Hamiltons' in Boise, I was in a strange, pensive mood. The drive had not just been a means to an end, but had itself been A THING.
And then we were with fabulous friends, and we met their fluffy new cat named Lily. And in my world, friends and cats go a long way towards making everything better.