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Reading, reminiscing, and listening to animals

Updated: Jul 18, 2020

“It is quite possible that an animal has spoken to me and thatI didn't catch the remark because I wasn't paying attention.”E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

Recently, someone asked me what I was reading these days.  I confess I haven't read anything that has made the NYT's Bestseller list.  However, I have been reading some great books that will be familiar to many of you.

I have to confess that I have not paid attention to recent books and had nothing to offer. However, I thought about what reading I had been doing of late and so I thought I would share those books even though they were published a long time ago.

This summer, I went to an estate sale in Kezar Falls. I looked down and saw a beautifully preserved copy of Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. The cover is just beautiful with a drawing of Fern and her best friend Wilbur the pig who must live a long life. I haven’t read Charlotte’s Web since I was a kid. I thought about the world that we live in and how it feels anything but gentle and wanted to go back to a gentler time. I returned to my childhood when reading was always fun and the endings were always happy.

In going back to Charlotte’s Web, I learned a lot. The talking animals are really only in Fern’s imagination and what an imagination! Wilbur the pig plans out his days to include breakfast, scratching his itchy parts against a post, talking to Templeton the rat (which is better than nothing), more meals and laying in the sun. Suddenly I started to look at our puppy Maisy and wonder how she plans her day. Wake up, stretch, wake us up, eat breakfast, go back

upstairs, shake a stray sock for all it is worth, chew on the fluff that she has pulled from Lambchop when looking for the squeakers, lay in her favorite chair to rest and so on….

It made me think about childhood reads such as Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the moment when the magic of reading swept me away. I was in the third grade sitting at my desk reading Little House on the Prairie captivated by the story. The bell rang and I looked up and had no idea where I was. I was on the prairie before the bell rung and it took me a few minutes to realize I was sitting at my desk in Mrs. Fisher’s class and not on the prairie. I was disappointed. That has never happened again and I have waited for it as I’ve been a lifelong


I went to a library book sale this summer and lo and behold, there were two books by Ms. Wilder and a Nancy Drew that I’ve never heard of. I bought them and drove to the post office to mail Nancy Drew to my daughter who is enthralled with the titian haired sleuth who always has time to help with the luncheon dishes. She got it yesterday and is reading it already. I am reading Little House in the Woods and back on the prairie and waiting to be swept away.

I pulled the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil Frankweiler off my bookshelf– also a favorite. I read this in the fourth grade when I wanted to run away from home for some reason that I’ve forgotten. The story is about a young girl and her friend who run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. They hide from security in the bathrooms and bathe in the fountain. I was just recently at the Met and thought as I walked around how that just isn’t possible today - too many cameras - what a disappointment.

Adorable Maisy the puppy
Maisy Harrigan patiently waiting for a listening ear.

So as for those summer reads, I suggest you go back to your childhood to a gentler time where there were happy endings, where children hear talking animals, children bathe in the fountain at the Met and the prairie is new and exciting. And if you have a pet, I strongly suggest that you listen to E.B. White and take a closer look because it is quite possible that your pet has spoken to you and you’ve missed it because you aren’t paying attention. I’m confident Maisy has a few things to say and I’m listening.

Maisy Harrigan (right) patiently waiting for a listening ear.

Theressa is Porter, Maine resident since 2015. Theressa lives with her husband, Patrick and their dog, Maisy. She is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor and an Adjunct Professor of Criminal Law.


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