Zan linked to Heather Armstrong's photo In Loving Memory of Misha today. It is a gorgeous photo -- Heather takes the most amazing photos and whenever I see one I add "must take photography course" to my mental to-do list. What's most startling about this one is how the knots in the birch trees look like eyes. Don't they? Go take a look. I'll be here when you get back.
The eye imagery is particularly resonant for me today because last night I read the long lost book from my childhood that I thought was called The Girl With the Silver Eyes, only it wasn't. My book features a girl with silver eyes -- her silver eyes are very important -- but it is called A Walk Out of the World. The book also features an anthropomorphic forest. By chance I pulled it off the shelf during Luke's Story Time at the library. I actually cried out -- surprising the other mothers who already find me a bit overly enthusiastic about books, I think -- when I saw the image on the cover, which happens to be by Trina Schart Hyman.
The story, it turns out, was written by 18-year-old Ruth Nichols and it was published in 1969. It's a pretty standard fantasy adventure story, in which two quiet city children wander into the woods and end up in an alternate universe where they discover they are members of a dispossessed royal family. What lifts the story above the ordinary and makes it really memorable, is Nichols' restrained and lyrical descriptive writing. Even today I tend to be impatient with descriptions, particularly of nature, and to skim rapidly through them but I found myself savouring these. I'd remembered tantalizing fragments of them from my childhood reading and this time they resonated even more, since ten or twelve years ago we lived in Vancouver and Nichols borrows heavily from that city's dramatic landscape. Apparently she wrote the book on her Christmas vacation from the University of British Columbia.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find much information about Ruth Nichols online, although it's evident she's written a number of books since her first.