At Large And At Small : Familiar Essays by Anne Fadiman

At Large And At Small : Familiar Essays by Anne Fadiman

In her book “At Large and At Small,” Anne Fadiman revisits the familiar essay, a cherished literary form known for its ability to explore both broad intellectual concepts and the small nuances of everyday life. Fadiman combines her trademark wit and knowledge to delve into twelve personal fascinations, ranging from her childhood obsession with catching butterflies to her admiration for Charles Lamb, from her nostalgia for letter-writing to the challenges and joys of urban-to-rural relocation.

These essays are written with an immersive approach, as Fadiman immerses herself in each subject. She indulges in copious amounts of ice cream, revealing her love for Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Chip and her brother’s homemade Liquid Nitrogen Kahlua Coffee (recipe included). She maintains a caffeine-fueled buzz while recounting Balzac’s coffee addiction, and even pulls all-nighters to explore the nocturnal world of the night owl, examining our circadian rhythms and sharing insomnia remedies like her father’s nighttime word games and Lewis Carroll’s mathematical puzzles.

“At Large and At Small” is a brilliant and charming collection of essays that reintroduces us to the cherished art of familiar essays.

A Move into Open Spaces: Reflecting on Change and Identity | Charles Lamb’s Journey

In recent years, my family made the decision to move from the bustling city to a peaceful rural area. This decision was not without hesitation and concerns about leaving behind the familiar and venturing into the unknown. However, we were drawn to the idea of embracing a simpler way of life in the countryside, surrounded by open spaces and the beauty of nature.

Before the move, I couldn’t help but think about the experiences of my great-great-grandfather, who embarked on a perilous journey across the United States in a covered wagon and faced hardships along the way. Despite the uncertainties, we were inspired by a quote that urged us to take chances and embrace new possibilities.

A New Beginning

As we packed up our belongings and said goodbye to our beloved city, we felt a mixture of excitement and sadness. We knew that this move was a chance for a fresh start and an opportunity to reconnect with nature and ourselves. Our new destination was a charming farmhouse nestled in the beautiful Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.

While we faced the daunting task of packing and leaving behind a city we had called home for many years, we were buoyed by the regular updates from our future landlord. He kept us informed about the changing seasons and the wonders of nature that surrounded the farmhouse. These updates filled us with anticipation and allowed us to envision our new life in the countryside.

The Challenges of Moving

Moving is never easy, and this transition was no exception. We confronted the realities of packing and decluttering, making tough decisions about what to keep and what to let go of. The process was physically and emotionally draining, but we knew that it was necessary to create space for new beginnings.

The day of the move arrived, and we found ourselves driving towards our new home, filled with a mix of uncertainty and hope. When we arrived, we were greeted by a beautiful yellow farmhouse that exuded warmth and charm. This sight filled us with a sense of relief and excitement, and we knew that we had made the right choice.

Embracing the New Chapter

As days turned into weeks, we settled into our new life in the countryside. We missed the city at times, but we found solace in the peacefulness and beauty that surrounded us. We learned to appreciate the simple pleasures of nature, like the blooming flowers and the songs of birds.

Our new home came with its own set of challenges, including a leaky roof that required immediate attention. But we faced these challenges head-on, determined to make this new chapter a success. With each obstacle we overcame, we grew more attached to our new home and community.

Lessons From the Past

Reflecting on the journey, I am reminded of the experiences of my ancestors who faced their own hardships and uncertainties. Just as my great-great-grandfather found a new life and purpose in a time of adversity, we too found solace and fulfillment in embracing the unknown.

Our move to the rural countryside taught us the importance of taking risks and embracing change. While the journey was not without its challenges, it was a chance for growth and self-discovery. We learned to appreciate the beauty of nature, the power of simplicity, and the importance of resilience.

In the end, our decision to leave the city behind and embrace a new life in the countryside was an opportunity for renewal and fulfillment. We may have left behind the familiarity of the city, but we gained a new appreciation for the wonders of nature and the joy of living in harmony with it.

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