Friday, January 17, 2014

On Looking Out Windows and Joan Walsh Anglund

Robin in winter snow January 2014
"A bird does not sing because he has an answer. He sings because he has a song."
                                                                                                   --Joan Walsh Anglund

I watched the snowfall this morning from an upstairs window. Floating flakes. Thick, blowing flakes. A cloud of swirling particles in silent white motion. How beautiful it all looked. Of course I was content to savor the beauty from a warm perch.

Downstairs hubby was also watching the wintry bluster from the vantage point of our porch room. I know this because I heard him say, "There's nothing sadder than a robin in a snowstorm." Oh dear. Poor thing. I hadn't even noticed.

But at about the same time I glanced at the shelf next to my chair and noticed a thin, almost-forgotten volume tucked away--Memories of the Heart, by Joan Walsh Anglund. I remembered that I had bought it at a library's used book sale a couple of years ago. Opening it up, I realized it's a treasure worth revisiting.

Familiar with Anglund's work? She's author and illustrator of more than 120 books according to her official website (here) maintained by those dedicated to keeping her work alive.

Born in 1926, Anglund lived in Hinsdale IL and Redding CT. She was educated at the American Academy of Art and the Chicago Art Institute. The popularity of her winsome words and illustrations peaked in the 1960s and 70s. Her themes were built on love, friendship and faith. Among her most popular books are A Friend is Someone Who Likes You, What Color is Love, The Brave Cowboy, and Love is a Special Way of Feeling. Later, images of her endearing round-faced characters and beautiful words translated into dolls, stationery, featured mugs and other incidentals. You might have seen such items in gift shops and Hallmark stores.

A sample of Anglund's words from Memories of the Heart:

Thought is the work 
   of the mind
love is the occupation 
   of the Spirit.

Wisdom is 
                                        as the morning light
...a gradual 

What shall we hold 
         the love 
            we gave

Beautiful, huh?

The Anglund book I now want to track down is Look Out the Window. I wonder what I'll find inside those pages? Anything like looking out my window at the snow this morning? Hmmmm.

And the robin? Well, I braved the cold and stepped outside later today hoping to get a picture of him. There he was (although my above photo doesn't do him justice--but you know how long birds stay still!) He wasn't shivering or huddling. He was actually chirping. He was not letting the cold stop him from sharing his song.

Made me kind of wonder.

It's a new year. Maybe I need to do things a bit differently. Like open my eyes and notice things more. Get more of my own words down while enjoying the words of others. And sing.

Are you familiar with Anglund's work? Do you have any favorites from her book list, or novelties? Should we carry some of her themes more in our hearts this year?

Want to take a peek at more of Anglund's sweetness? I found pinterest boards dedicated to her. Here are a couple of links:


  1. Oh, sweet little robin. Yes, I remember this author. Such inspiring stories.

  2. Are you staying warm out your way, Cathy? We've got more snow coming in. Hope our robin is faring well :-) Rereading Anglund has kind of re-ignited what started out as a slow beginning to the year for me. Now I'm ready to get busy writing again!

  3. I was wondering about you when you didn't post for so long. I am glad you found the inspiration to get busy again, although it is truly very hard to keep on pursuing a dream that feels almost impossible to achieve, and often not very fun, to boot. I've certainly asked myself why I work so hard. It'd be so much easier to spend my time scrapbooking.

    1. Actually a 3-week long respiratory flu-bug thingie has been partially responsible for the writing lag . The longest bout I've ever had. But I've dabbled in poetry on my down days so it hasn't all been a waste! Here's to a year of good health to you :-)

  4. I have not heard of this author. Would love to read her books.

    1. I think you'd enjoy her style, Rachna. Wishing you a great year ahead with lots of writing success. Thanks for stopping by...

  5. I'm familiar with the author, mostly through quotes on coffee mugs and calendars. ;-)

    There was a time when we never saw robins throughout the winter, but I saw one just last week. They always make me feel hopeful for the coming spring. I guess if a little bird can sit through an ice storm, I can make myself send out some more queries.

  6. Good to hear from you, Peggy--and I'm going to adopt your attitude. It's time to take a lesson from the robin and get some queries out. Thanks :-)

  7. I was not familiar with her work~ thank you for sharing! I love the cover on the Look Out the Window book :)

  8. Would any of you be interested in attending a JWA gathering with Joan in Kentucky in September? email me at if you want to be on the invitation list.