Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Twain, Hannibal, and Tom Sawyer

We just completed a 10-day road trip to Iowa. We expected corn and soybean fields; we saw those. We expected summer days, but were greeted with a pleasant 60 degree cool spell that was refreshing after the heat of Texas. We did not expect so many small towns. While Patsy and I grew up in rural Texas and enjoy the solitude of nature away from the noises of road traffic, we were pleasantly surprised to see so much unspoiled nature in Iowa. Our friends summer home is on the banks of the Mississippi River below Fort Madison. We relaxed in the breeze of their screened-in porch, watching barge traffic, enjoying fresh corn and catfish. My grandson and I went fishing with friends and caught over 20 catfish among all of us fishermen.
     Thus inspired we decided to stop in Hannibal MO on our return trip, and visit Mark Twain's boyhood home and museum. Thus inspired, we departed, reveling in an audio tape of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer". It has been decades since Tom and I visited. Over the hours of listening to Twain's fine prose and ability to capture scene and plot, it struck me that he must have had a wonderful childhood. That made me think of my own which came up short. I wonder how many future generations will be able to identify with Twain's stories, given the childhood experiences they will have, often void of the outdoors and ample freedom to explore.
     My new favorite quote from Twain: " The difference between the right word ad the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."