Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Orchard of Hope

Mia's preschool class had a field trip to the zoo yesterday. It was a great time for all the kids and parents. The rain held off until after we were in our van on the way home. The medicine the doctor prescribed Mia is working miracles. She ran all day, climbed up the rope ladder, and never limped once. Jess said she limped a little first thing this morning, but after the medicine she was fine. I spent the entire day in bed recovering from the day walking yesterday. Obviously the doctor still has to work on my medicine. The zoo was so much fun. Mia got to feed a giraffe, goats, sheep, and a reindeer. I tried to get a picture of her feeding the reindeer, but the camera flashed just a moment too slow, so instead I got this amazing picture of her joy. I love this picture.

It's very chilly up here, but we've been leaving our bedroom window open to hear the birds outside. Jess and are I becoming avid bird watchers. We have goldfinches, purple finches, ruby-breasted grosbeaks, and an indigo bunting. On Saturday Jess spotted a summer tanager, which rarely come this far north. We've got binoculars and a bird field guide, now we just have to find a camera with a decent zoom. We've got a bit of a menagerie here. Paco, our pet peacock, has been living here for over 11 years. And now the neighbors potbellied pig has been running loose. He doesn't like to stay in their yard and instead roots in gardens and fields. This picture is from his roaming on Monday.

Orchard of Hope by Ann H. Gabhart is the story of Jocie Brooke and her family in the late summer of 1964. Hollyhill, Kentucky is starving for rain, and as the weather is heating up, so are tensions in the town as the schools start to desegregate and a new black family moves to town. Jocie quickly makes friends with the son Noah, and her father, Reverend David Brooke, hires him to work at the town newspaper he owns and invites the family to come to services at their Mt. Pleasant church. Tensions are also building in the Brooke's home as their friend Wes moves in with them to recover from a broken leg, elder daughter Tabitha approaches the end of her pregnancy, and their housekeeper keeps losing more of her memory. This book is packed with so many sub-plots, but Gabhart never loses track of them or makes any story seem any less important than any other. While much of the story is seen through 13 year-old Jocie's eyes, narration jumps through her family and friends. It's hard to sum up a book this powerful in just a few words. Gabhart does a phenomenal job of portraying the tautness of the Civil Rights movement, the wonder of unexpected love, the despair of love lost, and uses Jesus to ground each. I wish I had read The Scent of Lilacs, the first book in this series, because I'm sure that I would care even more about each character. I teared up in the last chapter, and I'm sure that there is more that the author has to say through the sweet, fresh voice of Jocie. It's one of those rare books where I will miss reading about the characters now that I'm done.

I've just started reading Vicki Norris' Restoring Order to Your Home. I'm really enjoying the book so far, and if I'm feeling better, I intend to blitz the kitchen this weekend. Wish me luck!