First we have a pandemic. Then along comes a nationwide protest over a heinous act, the protests being usurped by rioters. We need a portal into a world of peace, a portal that, unfortunately, doesn’t exist. What we do have, however, is the escape-hatch novel.
The escape-hatch novel has no room for serial murderers lurking in the alley, lizard aliens dining on humans, or evil shadows slithering across the bedroom floor. It’s a place filled with likable and often unique characters. It’s the cozy mystery. For us animal lovers, it’s best when populated with animals.
I couldn’t read at all for a while. I cleaned closets and drawers, cooked batches of meals to fill the freezer, learned how to brew my own flavor extracts, planted an indoor herb garden, made doughnuts and bread until I ran out of yeast, composed some music, and watched movies on TV, and though all of it filled the time and some of it was even productive, I needed more. I needed to escape the tension of being cooped up because of the pandemic. One day, several weeks down the road into madness, I glanced out the window and saw a deer placidly eating her breakfast in the tall grass, paying little attention to her fawn, which was leaping and bouncing and doing comical arabesques all around her. Happiness. Peacefulness.
(Image by smarko on Pixabay)
“Bambi,” I thought. “I need Bambi,” and that’s when I remembered the book I’d borrowed just before the library had closed due to the pandemic. It was a fantasy for grownups. I opened and started reading “The Catswold Portal” by Shirley Rousseau Murphy, but I did it slowly, a half chapter at a time, wanting to remain in the book’s world as long as possible. Continue reading