"God must love the common man, He made so many of them..." Abraham Lincoln

Friday, December 4, 2009


Having descended from a long and noble line of literary nerds, it shouldn’t be surprising that I’m fascinated with books. I love the stories they impart, the images they inspire and the feelings they invoke. I love ruffled pages, stiff covers, and don't even get me started on that new book smell. When it comes to books, what I love the most are the characters. And I do believe this love affair all began innocently enough…

When I was really young, before I loved books, I loved moccasins. They were my shoe of choice, regardless of occasion or weather, and my parents were indulgent. Black or brown, smooth or suede, embellished or plain -- I never met a moccasin I didn't like. I was certainly the only third grader in my school with high-top footwear that was both beaded and fringed. Speaking of third grade, one day my teacher gave us a wonderful assignment. “Write a story,” she said, “and make your main character like you in some way.” My imagination went wild and my first heroine ever arrived on the page. Princess Sego Lily was her name, nursing was her game -- and of course she wore moccasins.

In the years since then, my imagination has continued going wild and both my character roster and my shoe collection have expanded. Moccasins now share closet space with lots of different shoes and, likewise, my Indian princess nurse heroine has been joined by a host of other characters. After all, there’s nothing like variety when it comes to footwear or fictional friends and family.

New shoes come from shopping and new characters come from everywhere else. They are often inspired by people I encounter every day. Just recently I saw an elderly lady in a snazzy leopard-print ensemble jauntily walking through town. She was toting a big red purse on her shoulder and in her hands she carried an even bigger piece of cake on a paper plate. If that doesn’t have character stamped all over it, I just don’t know what does.

Now if only she had been wearing moccasins…