All the little [children] in a half circle around Aunt Emily are getting an imprinting that will last for life. The sound of her voice reading will condition how they look upon themselves and the world. It will become part of the loved ambience of Battell Pond, a glint in the chromatic wonder of childhood. These small sensibilities will never lose the images of dark woods and bright lake. Nature to them will always be benificent and female.

We lived in our times, which were hard times. We had our interests, which were mainly literary and intellectual and only occasionally, inescapably, political. But what memory brings back from there is not politics, or the meagerness of living on a hundred and fifty dollars a month, or even the writing I was doing, but the details of friendship – parties, picnics, walks, midnight conversations, glimpses from the occasional unencumbered hours. Amicitia lasts better than res publica, and at least as well as ars poetica. Or so it seems now. What really illuminates those months is the faces of our friends.

Wallace Stegner. Crossing to Safety. Penguin, 2006.

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