My Answer Surprised Me

61OseHVD69L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_[1]I was recently tagged on Facebook in a challenge to name the ten books that had most influenced  me. (I haven’t yet completed the challenge because I have tendencies toward procrastination. Just tendencies, haha.) But one book I know will be on my list is Heidi by Johanna Spyri. At first I was surprised that I had put Heidi on my list, but then I did some thinking about this book I read so long ago.

It is amazing to me how often I have thought about this book over the years. Is it because I read it at such a formative age? Is it because it truly is a wonderful book? Certain books from childhood are still some of my favorite books, even now. They were loved early and loved long!

I admired the character and had a desire to be like her. She was brave. She helped people. Yet she was vulnerable too; she was an orphan and lived with her grandfather, who she didn’t know at all at first.

I think I was also intrigued by Heidi’s close friendship with Peter,  who tended the goats on the alpine meadows. This pairing of a boy and girl together as main characters was somewhat new to me at the time. Usually the girls mostly hung out with girls and the boys with boys. But whenI got older, I would see this type of pairing again, in a wonderful way, with Scout and Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird  and then with Meg and Calvin in A Wrinkle in Time.

Another thing I loved about this book – and still do, to this day – was its sense of minimalism. I mean, Heidi slept on hay. She ate mostly bread and cheese.  She lived in a small house, a cabin, really, in the Swiss Alps.

I have always felt that in many ways, Heidi had everything she needed. Her food was simple. And tasty! (I like bread and cheese. We won’t discuss how much I like bread and cheese!)bread I am drawn to small houses, which is a good thing since that’s what we have. (I’ll bet that Heidi’s house, however, was not cluttered like my  house! I am working on it, though!)

Sleeping in hay. . . well, that won’t work for me. I like the sound of it. The idea of the sweet-smelling hay in the simple loft. But I’m allergic, and the one time I went on a hay ride, my eyes turned so red, I had to take my contacts out and be half blind, rather than wear my thick glasses in front of the boy I had a crush on. (The hay ride was really fun, before all the sneezing , itching, and pile of Kleenex kicked in.)

The character of the grandfather is interesting to me. He is a hermit, and in some ways reminds me of one of  those mysterious figures that appear sometimes in traditional tales, like a crone, a wise woman, a magician, a bean-seller.

On a lighter note, added bonuses for me with Heidi were her braids and her name. I coveted those braids, even though my chin-length baby-fine hair would not have made lovely, thick, glossy braids!But I wanted my hair to look like Heidi’s and like Pollyanna’s in the movie with Hayley Mills, and like Betsy in the Betsy Tacy books. I also wanted a name like Heidi, or Melinda or Katrina, or Marianina. (Yes, really.) As you can see, I was firmly grounded in reality.

betsy

And on a MUCH lighter note, I have enjoyed reminiscing about Heidi as I wrote this blog, and the only down side is that I seem to have a tune stuck in my mind now. It begins “Oh, VRENili, my PRETty one,” and has the words “My HOME it is in SWITzerland, it’s made of wood and stone.” Trust me, it gets old fast.

The descriptions in the book of nature, of  the meadow, the mountains, and the pines above the Grandfather’s house are beautiful, and I enjoyed knowing that Heidi spent so much time outside. I often think about how Heidi fell asleep at night, seeing the stars outside her loft window, and listening to the wind in the pines.pines

 

 

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About Dixie Minor

A wife, mother, former Teacher, and the author of Winter Wish
This entry was posted in Books, Children's books, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to My Answer Surprised Me

  1. Barbara Hood says:

    I love your descriptions! Great writing!

    • Dixie Minor says:

      Thank you so much, Barbara! I’m glad Vicki tagged me in the challenge and got me thinking about books! There are so may more! Heidi really seemed kind of random, in a way. 🙂 but the I realized I think about it a lot!! ❤

  2. Though I can not relate to Heidi or Pollyanna, I can relate to Tom and Huck and how they made me feel. I’ve just reread Tom Sawyer. Huckleberry Finn is up next! I might even sleep outdoors, under the stars tonight!

  3. Dixie Minor says:

    I love Tom and Huck too! Thank you so much for commenting! I thought about both of those books. If you sleep outside, enjoy it!

  4. I haven’t thought about this story until just now, so I cannot say that it stuck with me. That said, it did make an impression at the time. I recall feeling intimidated by the grandfather figure. I think it was because I watched the Shirley Temple movie. I just looked now at Goggle images. Yes, the grandfather looks fierce and scary and not at all friendly.

    But do you know? Your last lines about seeing the stars outside her loft window, and listening to the wind in the pines… that did make a long-lasting impression, now that I think of it!

    Lovely post, thanks.

  5. Dixie Minor says:

    Thank you so much, Maggie! I’m glad to know you felt that way too, about the stars and the pines! I didn’t see the movie, and now that you mention it, I’m glad. I don’t think the movie makers were as careful back then as they are ow about trying to keep certain things the same when they make a movie from a children’s book.

  6. Ah, what great memories… I love Heidi as well and also wanted to be her! 😀

  7. Dixie Minor says:

    Thank you so much, Rachel; I’m glad I’m not the only one! 🙂

  8. bkpyett says:

    Heidi was a favourite of mine too. Ending up in Switzerland was just coincidental! I also enjoyed ‘A Wrinkle in Time’. Loved your memories of Heidi, Dixie. 🙂

  9. Dixie Minor says:

    I can’t believe how many of my favorite books are children’s books! I’m glad you liked two of my favorites also! 🙂 Thank you so much, Barbara! ❤

  10. pattywryle says:

    I haven’t read the blog yet Dixie, but “Heidi”‘s life, is the one I want! I love you and can’t wait to see you tomorrow, a nice, gentle visit. Sleep well.

  11. Dixie Minor says:

    Patty, thank you! I loved our visit yesterday. It was wonderful to spend time with you. Your house, deck, and yard looked beautiful, and it was so peaceful. Love you!

  12. bkpyett says:

    Dixie, You’re It! Social media tag. Hope you have time for this!!

    • Dixie Minor says:

      Hi, Barbara! Thank you for tagging me! It looks like a very creative kind of tag.:) I will work on it tonight and be hopeful that I know the answers. 😉 I enjoyed yours and it will be fun!

  13. simon682 says:

    I spent part of the summer of 2012 catching up with what my sisters had been reading back in childhood and liked what I found. What Katy Did, Pollyanna, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I think I was the only man on the football terraces of Dewsbury with a copy of Anne of Green Bables in his pocket. I loved them all and especially I loved Heidi. Probably a lot more than I would have done had I read it as a child.

  14. Dixie Minor says:

    What a nice tribute to your sisters! I love the “Anne” books too! And I especially love how Anne loved to write! I’m glad you liked Heidi. 🙂 I loved how “simple” her life seemed and often find myself wishing life could be more like that. As a “grown up”, I know that life isn’t simple, but I do think we sometimes complicate it on the material level and on the scheduling-our-time level more than we need to. Maybe I should say “I” and “me”, LOL and not speak for everyone else! 🙂 Thank you so much, Simon!

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