We’re visiting in the log house on Spout Springs Road in Adair County just down the road from Knifley (pronounced NIFF-ley), the place where Janice Holt Giles found her writing home, her place of place, her peace of peace.
Anyone who has not read a Janice Holt Giles book has a fine autumn and winter ahead—The Kentuckians, Hannah Fowler, The Believers, Run Me a River, Shady Grove, 40 Acres and No Mule, A Little Better than Plumb—the list goes on and on and on.
True, it hasn’t gone far enough to win any Pulitzer Prizes, but some things go sadly and mistakenly unrewarded. Some things rest easier on the back roads of a nonetheless worthy life spent as a writer with a mission to be understood. Then, perhaps, we just might better understand ourselves.
She was born March 28, 1905, and died June 1, 1979. She’s buried by the side of her husband, Henry, in nearby Caldwell Chapel Cemetery, where you can go and stand for a while in the midst of simplicity and reverence for the not-so-distant past with rainbows of hope for a better tomorrow.
Janice would probably want you to look down for only a few moments, then return to the log house where she and Henry painted the past and colored rich rainbows yet to appear.
You might want to consider joining The Giles Society, P.O. Box 932, Columbia, KY 42728 (www.gilessociety.org) and make a contribution in any amount, with funds to be used to complete the restoration of the Giles House.
The main point of visiting the log house is not just to spend money, but to savor freely the work of a fine Kentucky writer. Her words sparkle with clarity, characters like Miss Willie, set alongside the background of The Enduring Hills and The Plum Thicket, will make any season a better time to be alive.
Hannah Fowler is a story of uncommon courage on the frontier of what would become today’s Commonwealth. The Believers is a book to take the reader beyond the rich simplicities of Shakertown to the passion in the hearts of men and women searching for more meaningful moments on this ship called Earth.
Janice Holt Giles deserves more than a historical marker, more than a place and a peace threatened with decay and disrepair. Yes, much has already been done by The Giles Society, but there’ll always be more important work ahead.
It begins with readers of words transcending lottery tickets, another season of slam dunks, and screaming prime-time violence.
Some of us are marking next year, October 2010, for another Arts and Crafts Festival at the Giles House. We’ll bring the children. We’ll pack a little lunch. And we’ll remember to bring a copy of A Little Better than Plumb.
Janice, do you hear us? We’ve not forgotten you.