Books are memories Part 1: The Long Patrol

“If you take a book with you on a journey, ” Mo had said when he put the first one in her box, “an odd thing happens: The Young guy reading a book with flying sheets coming out of the bobook begins collecting your memories. And forever after you only have to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it…yes, books are like flypaper–memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.”

~Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

I started re-reading the Inkheart series today, and within the first few pages, that quote stuck out to me. How true! One of the best memories I have in that manner is the Brian Jacques book The Long Patrol. As a young teen, I loved the Redwall books. Nowadays, I chuckle at the flowery writing and the predictable plots, but there’s still a certain nostalgia I associate with them, something very relaxing that enables me to sit down and just read one, despite the writing.

I bought The Long Patrol on vacation in Colorado in 2003. It had been a traumatic year, mostly thanks to a tornado that had torn through our little town of Stockton, Missouri. The tornado had hit the two motels my parents owned. I remember coming out of the shelter in the RV park, having to push past branches of a young tree that had fallen on our minivan. Just up the hill to my right a little, an RV had flipped on top of a car. Further on, two single-wide trailers had been smashed against each other, metal pancakes. The trees were in tatters, branches and leaves everywhere, the sky the most beautiful golden color, with ran-slicked gold shimmering over everything.

We’d moved into the small rental home at the back of my parents’ RV park, and settled in for a summer of work. Dust and debris hung permanently in the air that year, clogging our noses and throats, every beep and rumble of construction machinery a painful reminder of what we’d experienced.

That year, I believe, was also the year of dangerous rumblings in some of my own friendships–echoes of which still bother me to this day, at times. All around, as I said, it was a bit traumatic.

At some point that summer, my parents got tired of it. They packed us up, and we headed out to the clear air, the mountains, and the soothing peacefulness of Colorado. We stayed at a little cabin we’d visited years before with my dad’s family. Instead of machinery, our days were filled with the sounds of wind in the pines, the rush of the creek next to us. We hiked in the forest and rambled around town. We visited a gorgeous bookstore, and my brother and I immediately found the section of Brian Jacques books. I spent the next few days wrapped up in the story of the Long Patrol, venting my frustration by battling vermin alongside the characters.

After I read the quote from Inkheart and remembered The Long Patrol, I went over to my fantasy bookshelf and picked it up. I hadn’t touched The Long Patrol since we moved last. I ruffled through the pages, and it was like a breeze fanning the pine needle smell of Colorado back in my face. It was just as soothing now, after a frustrating day, as it was back then.

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3 thoughts on “Books are memories Part 1: The Long Patrol

  1. Bella says:

    I remember.

    I remember looking at a clear night sky with a beautiful moon and knowing that less than an hour away people’s lives and homes were being destroyed.

    I remember getting up at 4:30 the next morning, loading the truck with a generator, gas, water, chain saws, tools, and work gloves and heading out.

    I remember what looked like a war zone, household items hanging in the bare and twisted remnants of trees.

    I remember kneeling on the floor of a perfectly normal looking room, and finding my jeans soaked through.

    I remember fiberglass insulation in everything, on everything, and drawn in with each breath.

    I remember church members bringing in grills and cooking for as many people as they could.

    I remember hiding in the storm shelter the next day, with some who had already suffered, praying that it wouldn’t happen again.

    I remember.

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