LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘This Secret Luminous Place … Where All Bibliophiles Go’

“That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality — your soul, if you will — is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. … Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.” — George Saunders

My next door neighbor’s ash tree glows in the dusk, so each day I lounge on my patio and admire it. Our ash tree is a study in contrast, the leaves all blown away in the wind of three days ago.

On Thursday, after my daily chores were complete, I curled up in an armchair and finished the novel I’ve been reading, “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead, a Pulitzer and National Book Award winner. In my view, the accolades he received are all on target and, for a time, I escaped to the luminous place Whitehead describes in his book.

I’m a lifelong bibliophile, as is my mother. Her parents bought her books such as all of the Nancy Drew books, “Bambi,” “Heidi” and others, and she saved them all for her children to read. Her copperplate handwriting within the book makes me smile.

My favorite place in my high school was the library. When I was attending college, I worked in the library. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English, with a minor in library science, I went to work at the Dickinson (N.D.) High School library as a paraprofessional.

In April of that school year, the director at Stoxen Library (Dickinson State University), Bernnett Reinke, got in touch with me. There was an opening, and they wished for me to apply. I worked at Stoxen Library in various positions for the next 26 years, performing a wide variety of jobs, everything but janitor, and I retired as the director.

October is the month for the semiannual used book sale sponsored by the Bismarck Friends of the Library organization. Jim and I made a pass through the sale on the opening morning, and Friday I took my mother. I saw many friends there, happily browsing the tables chock-a-block full of treasures. One friend was buying a stack of books for her Little Free Library in front of her house.

My taste in books like in music is very eclectic, although I probably read more non-fiction, truth be told.

Once I’d returned my mother to her home, it was such a gorgeous day that I decided to take a walk somewhere near to the river.  I chose Chief Looking’s Village, in northwest Bismarck, with its sweeping vistas of the valley. I also sat for a spell in the peace of Sonali’s Garden and soaked in the sunshine. The ladybugs were busy in the garden and squirrels chattered in the nearby trees. Thank you, to the Seths for creating this wonderful place of peace.

One of my final chores before supper was the annual cleaning out of our wren house. Sadly, I found this clutch of six abandoned eggs. We will never know why this nesting failure occurred, although one theory could be that wasps chased off the wrens. I carefully gathered the eggs to bring indoors and we scattered the twigs in the yard, perhaps to be reused by the birds next year. I’m still watching for the sandhill cranes over Bismarck, and there are reports that they’ve been spotted over Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Here is what my husband has to say about the autumn season.

“And the seasons, they go round and round …” — Joni Mitchell

Published by

Lillian Crook

A retired librarian, Lillian Crook is an Army child but completed her junior high and high school education while living in North Dakota’s Slope County, where her parents retired to her mother's family farm and ranch. She completed a bachelor's degree in English from Dickinson (N.D.) State University and a master’s of library science from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and was an academic librarian at DSU for 26 years. She later worked for Theodore Roosevelt National Park as a museum technician and volunteered for TRNP in many capacities. She is married to Jim Fuglie, is an avid reader, gardener and birder and enjoys hiking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, photography and writing, is the mother of twin daughters and loves yoga. She and Jim run Red Oak House Books and Publishers from their home. Lillian is the founder of Badlands Conservation Alliance, a grass-roots voice for wild places in western North Dakota. Bullion Butte is the center of her universe, and she is happiest when floating the Little Missouri River. Her blog, WildDakotaWoman.blogspot.com, consists of random thoughts on wild places and musings on life in Red Oak House of Bismarck. She can also be followed on Twitter @WildDakotaWoman. She takes heart from one of her favorite writers, Terry Tempest Williams, who wrote, "If you know wilderness like you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go. We are talking about the body of the beloved, not real estate."

Leave a Reply