Gina

From the Stacks: Surviving the storm with a good book in hand

If you've got to hide from the weather, it should be with an exciting read

If there is one thing we know about in the Fraser Valley, it is this: If you wait for the weather to be just right, you won’t be outside an awful lot!

It was really quite a fine weekend, wasn’t it, and I defy many of you to say you weren’t out planting things. Yes, we are ‘supposed’ to wait for May long weekend, but that is just too hard. It seems worth the risk, and if the slugs and snails (nature’s vacuum cleaners, I have taught my little story time friends) and rain overcome this first go round, then we just try again a couple weeks later. The trade-off of being outside, seeing wonderful brown dirt with wee sprouts of green is something we can all agree on – just do it.

In the same vein, that applies to getting out of doors and enjoying our surroundings in an active and engaged way. We all know that right at our back door, we have an area that people travel many miles to get to, in order to enjoy its natural beauty and challenges.

There are folks who pay for the kinds of things that we can do on a weekend without hitting Travelocity for advice or taking out a loan. I talked about this some months ago with one of our favourite adventurers, Chris Cooper, who recently completed his Spirit Dancer voyage around the British Isles. Chris and Barbara Cooper have been involved in many spectacular adventures and presented them to us over the years at Agassiz Library.

But like all of us ordinary folk, there was a time their adventures involved their kids and the outdoors close to their own back yard. Chris and Barbara are coming back to Agassiz with something a little different, as they inspire and offer their practical wisdom on how easy it can be to make outdoor fun part of your family life and how to start making your own adventures. Lots of pictures and stories go with this program, and you will come away reading to pack a picnic and hit the open trail! Out and About: Family Outdoor Fun at Agassiz Library takes place on Friday, May 31 at 6:30 p.m. All welcome, no need to register.

While packing a book along may be a luxury when you are hiking, or there is a child tucked neatly on your shoulders, it is never a luxury to take one along to work, for a lunch break, or into the backyard. As I was doing some background searching for books for Chris and Barbara’s visit, I used the word ‘survival’ in my title search. Not that their program will have you climbing Everest, or canoeing the Amazon, it’s just a word that jumped into my head at that moment. The list of books that my online catalogue search brought up showed me a whole genre of books that I know would be intense, exiting, enlightening reads.

‘The Ultimate Survival Manual’ has practical advice and first-person stories in a guide to surviving a range of life-threatening scenarios, from natural disasters and terrorist attacks to random acts of violence and animal confrontations.

‘The Western Lit Survival Kit’ is a no-holds-barred, side-splitting guide to reading classic literature, from Homer to Faulkner. The author manages to find parallels between Jane Austen and Sex and the City, and even Jonathan Swift and Jon Stewart. There are books written by those that survive difficult circumstances too, that offer help and support such as, ‘The Autism Mom’s Survival Guide (for Dads, Too!): Creating A Balanced and Happy Life While Raising A Child with Autism’ and ‘The Caregiver’s Survival Handbook: Caring for your Aging Parents without Losing Yourself. For history buffs, ‘Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and A Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II.

Using modern research, a team compiles information that paints a chilling picture of the U.S. cargo plane crash in 1942 and follows its survivors as they spent 148 in a brutal Arctic winter. There are many dramatic survival stories listed, some with a little romance, such as ‘Just Send Me Word: A True Story of Love and Survival in the Gulag’, where a relationship goes beyond the bounds of one of Stalin’s most notorious labor camps, based on a cache of letters smuggled in and out of the Gulag.

And not to be outdone by all the other survival titles, someone wrote, ‘Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience’. This is bound to be a fascinating look at how the survivors of various traumas describe their lives both before and after, and offers an insiders view of the fear, courage and the flexibility of the spirit that drives people onward after a life-threatening experience. You can order these titles yourself, or come into the library to grab one off the shelf.

On that note, may you survive the rain, and don’t be afraid to get out there! You aren’t made of sugar, as my dear old mom would say, you won’t melt in a little water from above! See you in the stacks, where we know you will not only survive an onslaught of great reads, but will emerge victorious!