This is an engrossing tale of a young man, Christopher Knight, who, at the age of 21, simply drove away from his life and found a spot in the Maine woods, where he lived for 27 years. The reason? He wanted to live alone. He survived in those woods, through all seasons, without ever once lighting a fire, for fear he would be discovered. By burglarizing carefully chosen cabins, always ensuring that no one was inside, he fed and clothed himself, and kept a stock of material goods to keep his very well organized and supplied camp going. His family didn’t know if he was dead or alive. He lived within a few minutes’ walk of inhabited property, yet remained undetected. Over the years he became a legendary figure in the area, due to his incredibly long string of break-ins.
The Hermit, as he came to be known, was both admired and feared by inhabitants of the area; many didn’t believe he existed. Some tried to help him by leaving out grocery lists, offering to supply him with necessities; others feared leaving their cabins for even a few hours without locking the windows and doors, and resented that The Hermit had put them in this position of fear. Although he carried out over 1,000 burglaries, he never carried a weapon or physically harmed anyone. He was finally captured and imprisoned, where he confessed that each burglary filled him with guilt and self-loathing. He asserted that he deserved to be locked up, even though it would amount to torture for someone whose only desire was to be left alone in the quiet.
There are aspects of the quiet life he was able to achieve for so long that are very attractive to anyone who understands the peace of being alone and enjoys it. I identified greatly with this passage from the book: “The chief problem with environmental noise one can’t control is that it’s impossible to ignore. The human body is designed to react to it. Sound waves vibrate a tiny chain of bones – the hammer, anvil, and stirrup, the old-time hardware store of the middle ear – and these physical vibrations are converted to electrical signals that are fired directly into the auditory cortex of the brain. The body responds immediately, even during sleep. People who live in cities experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones. These hormones, especially cortisol, increase one’s blood pressure, contributing to heart disease and cellular damage. Noise harms your body and boils your brain. The word “noise” is derived from the Latin word nausea. “ The power of this book emanates from Chris Knight’s voice, his unique view of what he thinks about society, and his reaction to being reintroduced into society after so many years away. He is unflinchingly honest and true to himself. This is a great read.
One of my all-time favourite television series stars Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, and Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder, the ultimate nemesis in this western style show set in the backwoods of Harlan County, Kentucky. Having thought he’d escaped Kentucky forever, Givens finds himself back at home enforcing the law amongst his former friends and relatives. Givens has his own unique way of dealing with criminals in which he succinctly announces his intentions, warning them first of his fast draw. This explains the title “Justified”, as Givens feels his dealings are right given the situations and his approach. I found myself eagerly anticipating those great lines coming from Givens in each confrontation. Interwoven are the amazing storylines of the criminal element like Crowder and his clan. The writers were able to make a character like Crowder personally appealing and humourous while still maintaining his craziness. Givens too is portrayed as very likeably human as the seasons progress and the viewer learns more and more about his present life and the deep past that has shaped him. Never a boring moment! I highly recommend this series.
Christkindl Market: A Festival of German Christmas
Kitchener City Hall is once again hosting the Christkindl Market, a German Christmas Festival that has become a community holiday tradition. This is an excellent event for the whole family that is sure to put you in the festive spirit.
What can you do at Christkindl Market, you ask? There are so many things! Entertainment is provided throughout all four days. Festival-goers can enjoy live music, storytelling, puppet shows, dancing, and model railway displays. There will also be blacksmith demonstrations and free horse-drawn carriage rides. On Saturday and Sunday there are arts and crafts for children to make. Figures from German folklore will be wandering around the festival grounds where you can interact with them and take pictures.
The Christkindl Market is also a good opportunity to get some Christmas shopping done. There are vendors inside and outside with a variety of goods for sale. There are traditional German Christmas items like the advent pyramids, decorations, and wooden toys. There are also clothing and jewellery vendors, just to name a few.
And let’s not forget the food! Throughout the Christkindl Market you will find a number of foods. There is something for every palette, from sausage and sauerkraut to soft pretzels, Gluhwein to hot chocolate, and apple fritters to candy. There is no shortage of delicious treats to choose from.
Before I travel I like to research my destination’s libraries. I get excited about visiting old libraries with historical collections and ornate reading rooms more so than modern buildings with the latest in technology and millennial charms. Even so, this spring I will visit the main branch of the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam, a modern and bright ten-storey building that houses 600 public computers as well as a farm-to-table restaurant on the top floor where one can enjoy a glass of local beer while taking in views of the city and canals. In addition to extensive collections, OBA has a 260 seat theatre, exhibition space, and more than 2000 secure bicycle racks. The children’s area even has a treehouse and several teepees to play in.
While obviously impressive, the OBA didn’t strike me as much different from many of the big-city libraries I have visited; however, when I began to read through the English pages of their website I discovered that OBA’s membership and borrowing policies were completely foreign to me. For example, Amsterdam residents age 18 and over must purchase an annual library membership; it is not free. Memberships are available in several price ranges: the “total” membership for €55 (around $82 CDN), allows customers to sign out up to ten items at a time and have an unlimited number of checkouts per year, same for e-books. They can place ten holds and after that it is €.50 each (.75 CDN). These customers also get 50% off programs at the library – yes, they charge for programs. The next lower-level membership is slightly less expensive but is limited to 50 checkouts per year, and only six e-books, before having to pay to borrow. Tourists shouldn’t expect free Wi-Fi when they visit the library either; 30 minutes costs €1. All of this is very different to the library systems that I am used to, where memberships are free to residents and access to the internet is available to everyone. In researching the Openbare Bibliotheek I couldn’t find anything in English that explained why OBA uses this system and how Amsterdammers feel about it, so stay tuned for Part II of this Libraries Around the World article, when I report my findings!
- Julie, Information Services
There’s something about a classic film that takes you back to simpler days. For many of us, classic movies are full of comforting memories and the wonders of nostalgia. There’s also something revitalizing about watching an old film for the first time. When I realized I had never seen Treasure Island, I pulled up Hoopla and had the film instantly available at my fingertips.
I’m not entirely sure how I missed out on such a delight for so long. Walt Disney cheerfully brings to life this timeless tale of pirates, treasure, and treachery in his first live-action adventure. Young Jim Hawkins finds a map to the highly sought-after treasure of a notorious pirate and sets off on an adventure with the infamous Long John Silver. Robert Newton’s performance as the “pirate of all pirates” captures your heart as you find yourself cheering for the villain. The film is full of exhilarating and wonderfully entertaining pirate adventures – it is a must-watch for any pirate fan.
This gripping adventure is fun for adults and children alike. I know I would have enjoyed this as a kid, but watching it as an adult for the first time offered such a lively sense of excitement that I found was a much-needed break from the adventures of adulthood. Whether you are discovering this classic tale on film for the first time, or feeling the itch to revisit a favourite, Disney’s Treasure Island will take you on a swashbuckling adventure.
To stream this movie, click here or borrow the DVD here. If you’d prefer to read the classic tale, click here.
Stream these favourites and more great classics from the comfort of your couch with Hoopla available 24/7.
- Laura A., Information Services
Kitchener Public Library 85 Queen St. North Kitchener, Ontario N2H2H1 519-743-0271 http://www.kpl.org/