Shelter has been my guiding word for this year. It is a non-striving word. A shelter offers refuge, provides safety, and embraces calm and quiet.
My final Shelter essay for 2023 concerns my handy Someday/Maybe List. It is a resting place – or shelter – for things I might like to explore or experience…someday…maybe.
A Someday/Maybe list is not really a to-do list. It is simply a collection of things I don’t necessarily want to do immediately but don’t want to forget either. It could also include books, movies, products, and areas of study that interest me. So, I keep a list because, you know, I do love a list.
Many times upon reviewing the items, a theme begins to develop. A few years ago, one such theme prompted my Grand Southern Literary Tour.
Over time, I had compiled a collection of various writers’ homes and literary places I wanted to visit, and I eventually got busy and planned the details – the route to take and places to eat and stay. On my Grand Southern Literary Tour I visited Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s home and gardens in Oxford, Mississippi; Eudora Welty’s home in Jackson, Mississippi (she kept her Pulitzer Prize in a shoebox in an upstairs closet); Shelby Foote’s house in Memphis (not open but a drive-by of the house and a visit to his gravesite in Elmwood Cemetery had to do); and the Robert Penn Warren Library at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, which displays the author’s entire library (2,700 volumes), his desk, typewriter, desk lamp and other items donated upon his death.
Of course, no literary tour would be complete without visits to bookstores along the way: Square Books in Oxford (championed by John Grisham); Lemuria Books in Jackson; a variety of used bookstores in Memphis; and Parnassus Books (owned by Ann Patchett) in Nashville.
I came home with a memorable collection of 20 books and a souvenir autograph book signed by booksellers and tour guides I met along the way.
Even the places I stayed had a literary bent. In Jackson, I enjoyed my morning coffee in the Library Lounge at the Fairview Inn that was featured in the book The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
Having an official name for this adventure actually helped me get a table at a restaurant in Jackson. When I arrived for an early dinner, the hostess wasn’t going to be able to seat me as I had no reservation. I mentioned that I was in Jackson as part of my Grand Southern Literary Tour and had hoped to eat at this recommended restaurant. She was intrigued by my adventure, Southern hospitality kicked in, and she was kind enough to accommodate me.
In making plans for the coming year and in reviewing my list, I see I have jotted down to investigate small Kentucky towns and state parks. Or, perhaps a week spent at a cabin on a lake? Wouldn’t it be lovely to wake up and see shimmering water. Time to get out my calendar!
And for the record, my word for 2024 is Listen. It includes the word Silent and the phrase ListTen (more lists!). Listen also holds the word Nest, which I see brings me full circle…and back to Shelter.
By Lucy M. Pritchett
P.S. You may also like Finding Shelter…In A Castle.