Page 7 of 11
E.B. White; Maine
White is known for his children's books Charlotte's Web, The Trumpet of the Swan, and Stuart Little (his best) , but also, of course, for his career at The New Yorker, where his voice defined the magazine's "Talk of the Town" for many years. I particularly like this short essay memorializing environmentalist Rachel Carson, in which White mentions the degradation of a pond near his home in Maine. For White, and his wife and fellow New Yorker legend Katherine Angell White, Maine went from being a place to go to a place to be. There is something Thoreau-like about White's honoring of the natural beauty of rural New England, but it never feels like a binary proposition for White; he never rejects society in his pursuit of tranquility. In his essay "Homecoming" White writes about his feelings about entering Maine: “What happens to me when I cross the Piscataqua and plunge rapidly into Maine at a cost of seventy-five cents in tolls? I cannot describe it. I do not ordinarily spy a partridge in a pear tree, or three French hens, but I do have the sensation of having received a gift from a true love. And when, five hours later, I dip down across the Narramissic and look back at the tiny town of Orland, the white spire of its church against the pale-red sky stirs me in a way that Chartres could never do. It was the Narramissic that once received as fine a lyrical tribute as was ever paid to a river—a line in a poem by a schoolboy, who wrote of it, ‘It flows through Orland every day.’ I never cross that mild stream without thinking of his testimonial to the constancy, the dependability of small, familiar rivers.” And don't we all wish that returning home felt like "a gift from a true love"? I'd like to think so.