Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Early morning with E.B. White

The other day both newspapers, The Oregonian and The New York Times, were late arriving on our driveway.

Or maybe I was early coming downstairs.

It doesn’t matter who or what was to blame; the result was the same. Sitting in my study, a cup of coffee warming my paws, I suddenly found myself without news.

Savor this moment, I thought. And I did.

Then I reached out to grab the first book that fell to hand from the bookshelf that crowds my maroon recliner.

I found myself clutching “Essays” by E.B. White and suddenly my day took on a decidedly different hue.

No Iraq, no George W. Bush, no Iowa campaigning, no teenage fatalities on rural highways, no stock market slides or Blazer losses.

Instead, I found myself back in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies with the transparent and congenial prose of the author of “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little.”

I nosed around among the essays reading unassuming yet beguiling leads.

“The Winter of the Great Snows” began: “Somebody told me the other day that a seagull won’t eat a smelt.”

“The Sea and the Wind that Blows” started: “Waking or sleeping, I dream of boats — usually of rather small boat under a slight press of sail.”

And “Riposte” began: “To come upon an article in the Times called ‘The Meaning of Brown Eggs” was an unexpected pleasure.”

Which takes me back to where I began — with White’s essays themselves presenting a pleasure and relief from what I expected to find in The Oregonian and The Times.

How far he took me from what we consider “news.” So much so that his offerings became the real news of the day. How could I have stayed informed without it?

How do I manage on all those days when the newspapers arrive “on time”?

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