“My father, growing, I suppose, in prosperity, decided to leave the semidetached villa in which I had been born and build himself a much larger house, further out into what was then the country. The ‘New House,’ as we continued for years to call it, was a large one even by my present standards; to a child it seemed less like a house than a city… the New House is almost a major character in my story. I am a product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles. Also, of endless books. My father bought all the books he read and never got rid of any of them. There were books in the study, books in the drawing room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase in the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parents’ interest, books readable and unreadable, books suitable for a child and books most emphatically not. Nothing was forbidden me. In the seemingly endless rainy afternoons I took volume after volume from the shelves. I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man who walks in a field has of finding a new blade of grass.”
From Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Lifeby C.S. Lewis.
As I return home for Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of these words, and the ease with which Lewis remembers and recaptures that feeling of being a child, enthralled at opening an attic door or flicking on a basement light.
The picture is of my old dog, Guess, lounging in his favorite spot.