This is the road home. I am thankful. It’s Thanksgiving after all.
As we drive home, we are nearly there and I take in the Palouse hills, now almost black with fertile soil. They tell the story of harvest, brought in during summer months. I notice the subtle green of the winter wheat beginning to sprout. The blue of the sky. The epic clouds. And, off in the distance, my beloved Moscow Mountain.
There was a time I would guffaw at that nomenclature. My Portland, Oregon family and friends would agree with my original observation: “What mountain? Those are foothills!” But that ridge is the backdrop for the town that has been my home over half my life.
And in that half of my life, I have more to be thankful for than I can ever write down or illustrate in a million books. I am grateful. Not just for the winter wheat, blue for the sky, and the color green (as one sage once pointed out), which is glory enough. But I’m thankful for the man that I met here and married, the extended family I inherited from him, the children God blessed me with, the friendships formed and cultivated in the fertile soil of the Palouse, the music sung, the prayers offered, and the laughter. So much laughter.
I can look back at the first half of my life with thankfulness too. That half had the backdrop of a “real” mountain, Mt. Hood. That is the ground where I was planted. The subtleties of the soil in the green Willamette Valley are still in me, body and soul, like a wine that has taken on all the flavors of it’s environment: the hospitality of my mother during holidays, my family’s love for one another, a whole day dedicated to processing the corn we harvested, making clam chowder and sharing it with dozens of friends, eating fresh vegetables out of the garden, and playing with my best friend all summer in bare feet (despite the gravel road).
The soil I’ve grown in has not been without large stones to deal with. And I know there will be drought and frost, and other adversity to face in the future. But the vines with the most hardship to overcome make the best wine.
So I am grapes from the Willamette and I am wheat from the Palouse. I am thankful, so thankful, for these things that have potential for wine and bread. I have been blessed. And I know it. I have been drenched with the early and the latter rain of grace.
It is all very good. And I am thankful.
I loved illustrating, Little Mouse Finds A Friend. My favorite thing about the book is the subtle mix of science and story. There are fun bits of scientific facts throughout, without overwhelming the narrative that focuses on friendship and family relationships. But at the end, the hunger for more science, brought on by the appealing aroma through the story, is satisfied with a bullet list of interesting facts and anatomically correct paintings of the Atlas moth and it’s caterpillar.
Jeni Leidenfrost cleverly combines story and science together in an enticing blend that is delighting elementary children of all ages. Find out more about this charming tale, and the characters in it, at LittleMouseFamily.com.
We had a simply lovely time at book launch party for Little Mouse Finds A Friend. Author Jeni Leidenfrost and I visited with friends, new and old, and signed many books near the delightful childrens’ book section at BookPeople of Moscow. We had samples of the braille-only version of the book as well as the original illustrated version with braille added. There were balloons and t-shirts, lemonade and cookies, laughing and story-telling. It was the best kind of party. Many thanks to our publisher Jason Farley of Jovial Press for being a good sport and modeling the Little Mouse T-shirt. (Photo credit: L. Leidenfrost and H. L. Wilson).