We Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich
Philadelphia : J.B. Lippincott Company, 1942. Hardcover. 322 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm. In very good condition with a tattered dust jacket. Bookplate on front free endpaper. No markings to pages. Pages are clean. Binding is firm.
A True Story of a Maine Family Robinson
WE TOOK TO THE WOODS
by Louise Dickinson Rich
BETWEEN the time Louise Dickinson gave up wanting to be a brake-man on a freight train and definitely decided to become an English teacher, she would say when asked what she was going to do with her life that she was going to live alone in a cabin in the Maine woods and write. Years later, when she received a letter from a friend exclaiming, "Isn't it wonderful that you're at last doing what you always wanted," she realized with a start that she was living her old dream.
There is, however, one pleasant difference between the imagined and the real. Louise Dickinson is not living alone in her woods. She and her husband, Ralph Rich, have a cabin in the heart of the Rangeley Lake region of Maine. There is nothing at all on the hills but forest, and nobody lives there but deer and bear and wildcats. The lakes come down from the north like a gigantic staircase to the sea. This is the background for Mrs. Rich's unique and enchanting story.
Her friends are always asking her questions, the kind of questions anyone would put to a woman who lives in a remote wilderness out of choice: Mow do you make a living? Do you really live here all the year round? Isn't housekeeping difficult? Aren't the children a problem? Don't you get terribly bored? and so on, generally culminating with, Why don't you write a hook? Mrs. Rich decided she would, and We Took to the Woods is her answer to all the oft-repeated queries.
Here the whole panorama of life in the wilderness unfolds: the drama of the spring drive when the logs are brought down the river from the upper lake; the fun of wood-cutting and ice-cutting; the zest of hunting and fishing when one is dependent on the results for food; the excitement of Christmas in the woods. There are amusing sidelights on everyday events—an impromptu fox hunt when the hunters were armed only with landing nets — the time Mrs. Rich felt she was being watched and, in spite of her husband's amusement, went to the door and saw a wildcat eying her, no more than three feet from where she had been knitting—the time she adopted a helpless, three-day-old skunk.
We Took to the Woods is more than an adventure story, more than simple nature study; it is a shining, refreshing picture of an entirely new way of life. Written with warmth and enthusiasm and great charm, it is a book to stir the imagination of every reader and kindle his heart with envy.
LOUISE DICKINSON RICH was born in Huntington, Massachusetts. She received her education in Bridgewater public schools, where her family moved when she was two, and at the Massachusetts State Teachers College. Upon graduation she became an English teacher. She has one sister, Alice, who has the same birthday as Mrs. Rich, though she is two years younger. "We think this very clever of my mother," says she. "Mother stopped with Alice, not wanting to push her luck too far, I guess. I tried to talk Alice into going twins when I was about to be thirty and she twenty-eight. I wanted to settle for twenty-nine apiece." However, Alice refused.
Of her childhood Mrs. Rich says, "Completely undistinguished." She grew up in a neighborhood where most of the children were boys and so automatically learned to ride a bicycle, play ball and swim. When she was young she loved to be outdoors and loved to read. She still does both. She also thought she would like to travel, but one trip to Europe at the age of twenty-one so wore her down—she went student steerage, on a shoe string, with one suitcase and washed her stockings out nights—that her aim ever since has been to get to one place where she could hang up her clothes in a closet and stay.
Then she met Ralph Rich and moved to the woods where for most of the year the Riches are isolated in their camp, which is located on the Rapid River midway between two large lakes. Her first child, Rufus, was born there in the wilderness, with no one to help her except her husband. The doctor, who had been sent for, was held up and did not arrive till all was over.
In the Spring of 1942 Mrs. Rich left the woods for the .first time in five years—and only temporarily. "I've seen my first sky-writing and my first invisible glass," she writes. "They may be old stuff to everyone else, but they're as thrilling to me as they are to my son." Mrs. Rich returned to civilization to have her second child—a little girl whom the Riches have named Dinah. All four are now back in Maine.
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