Rob Fountain/Associated Press
Yesterday I stopped and pulled my old copy of Woodswoman from my bookshelf. Looking at it, I recalled years ago (1986?), driving back to all-girls’ camp in Vermont, after several nights hiking and camping in the White Mountains. In the van we were chatting away about the woods when I mentioned my interest in building a log cabin in Alaska and living in the wilderness. One of my counselors said, “You don’t have to move to Alaska, you can do it right in the Adirondacks!” and she suggested I read a book called “Woodswoman”, about a woman who had done just that.
After we arrived back at camp, unpacked gear and showered, I made my way to the mailboxes. There was a package slip in my tiny slot, and upon opening the envelope, I discovered a copy of “Woodswoman.” Coincidentally, my parents had been on a trip to the Adirondacks while I was off hiking, purchased an autographed copy of the book, and sent it to me. I devoured it, and read it again. I read her other books (again autographed copies, again purchased by my parents on return trips to the Adirondacks). I dreamed of my own woodswoman adventures.
Then a very long time passed and I forgot about being a woodswoman.
So yesterday I curled up in bed and began to read it again. About twenty pages in, I thought, “What’s Anne LaBastille up to now?” A quick search on my phone and I learned she died barely six months ago at the age of 75. I am still in shock, so sad, so surprised. How could I have missed hearing about this?
For silly and foolish reasons, I’m not in the woods skiing this weekend. My consolation, as January Manhattan drips in 59° drizzle, is to read “Woodswoman.” There is something magical about this book. It finds me when I need it most.