“River World” was first published in 1959, and was called “an ambitious book – and – a thrilling kaleidoscope of nature.” I agree! This is the fourth of my mom’s 20+ books that I’ve scanned and is now available on Amazon Kindle (and soon to be on Barnes and Noble and Itunes as well). It took me awhile for this one, simply because I had so much fun reading it. I think Nancy got a bit tired of me saying things like “wow, listen to this! A possum sky!” It’s a book about the Mississippi River, written as if there were no people living along it – a pure nature book, and I could easily see she really relished writing this one. There’s a joy there that’s infectious. All chapter headings are Virginia’s ink drawings, too, and there’s a freshness in them that I think is very nice.
Here’s a sample I especially liked: “I stand on the river shore with white cliffs behind me—the haze bridging the far distances across the Dardennes marshes of Missouri and up and down the river for endless miles—and I try to discover what creates this mystic, hushed atmosphere of the willow-goldened river. But the spell of autumn makes even such slight mental effort quite unnecessary. It is enough to live and feel the magic of the river.”
“For now the river world knows a breathless, timeless moment, a windless waiting for winter, until the violent breath of a north wind finally sweeps away these last remnants of Indian summer, sending willow leaves sailing away on the surging brown water. But today even the river seems slow, a smooth and shining lake with no visible current; the willows are very still, each leaf poised in a transient permanence against the sky.”
AND: SOUTH TO THE SEA
Most of Virginia’s personal notebooks and manuscripts are now in Western Illinois University or the Illinois State Museum, but in my own collection I found a binder that I had never read. It’s the basis for “River World”, I think, and so I scanned the pages and photos, and added this as a 56-page bonus. It’s quite amazing to read. In April of 1956, Virginia somehow talked her way aboard a towboat transporting over 2,000,000 gallons of gasoline (see photo below) and traveled 2100 miles down and back on the Mississippi. 17 days of living on a 1000-foot-long gas-bomb – and they allowed her to do it! The binder is filled with the nature she saw, food she ate, people she met, life aboard this boat with engines the size of buses. There’s a tour of a giant oil refinery down in the Gulf, and at one point the tow looses steerage and plows into a willow bank, dropping tons of dirt and plants on the deck (a sample of which was still taped in the binder). It’s quite some story in its self, and I’m thinking of published just this part as a separate book.
The Cape Zephyr – a real Mississippi working boat that women just didn’t travel on.
And so many thanks to all of you who have already bought some of Virginia’s other books. River World is now available at Amazon.com here. Or just search for book # ASIN: B00CBM5TQA
Email us if you want to know more. The is my legacy, and I see more and more of my own journey through these books. They’re like mirrors – she did the Mississippi, I did Alaska and Mexico.
Thanks for reading this week.
Click here to go to the online blog this was to.
Click here to go to our main website – packed with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.
Click here to check out what Nancy’s currently working on with her photography.
Click here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.