The other day our great granddaughter, Charli, expressed her curiosity over the shelves of yellow magazines in our den. “What are these books? Why do you keep so many? What’s in them?”
We subscribed to National Geographic when our son was a toddler and have continued our subscription to this date. Each month the magazine with its marvelous pictures arrives. When he was little, our son loved for us to read to him and National Geographic with its colorful pictures was one of his “books.” Over the years one or both of us have perused the pictures, the captions, and many of the articles, sometimes all of them. Granted, during hectic times we might only have skimmed through the pages but usually we at least look at the pictures.
Before internet took over the information world the Geographics were a much-used source for school papers on almost everything from dinosaurs to earthquakes to every place on earth and the moon too. The spine of each volume has titles of the featured articles with titles of maps in red so they’re very easy to spot. And oh! those maps! I love maps that show you places all over God’s earth and I have always enjoyed using them in teaching children, allowing them to have a vision of where countries are and their relationship to each other. The maps are folded inside the magazine, easily extracted and, unfortunately, easily lost.
It is so easy and fun now to ask Siri for information about everything, even chewing gum. But it’s a lot more colorful and fun to look things up in National Geographic. The pictures alone with their captions can give you the taste and feel for places and people around the globe.
A few times over the years we have looked at each other and voiced the possibility of stopping our subscription. But then, how could we? We couldn’t give it up as long as our children were students. Then there were the grandchildren. They might seldom look at the treasures between the yellow covers but the source was there for them. Then we couldn’t stop it because we liked the magazine so much. Then suddenly (or it seemed that way!) we realized we had forty years of National Geographic and we certainly couldn’t break that wonderful heritage.
Along the way we had a bookcase built specifically for the National Geographics. Tommy Humphries was a skilled woodcraftsman and we asked him to build a bookcase with adjustable sloping shelves, maybe three shelves, something low that would fit under a window. Tommy added his own ideas to ours. Didn’t we want four shelves? We said okay, four. Next thing he insisted five shelves was what we wanted and we agreed to that, knowing it now would not fit under a window. Well, the bookcase has six four-foot shelves, four of them now filled to capacity with golden Geographics, 1972 to 2020. Good job, Tommy! You knew better than we did!
A year or two ago I, as the bookworm of the house, had the audacity to approach Charles with the possibility of selling our collection, just so we’d have space for the books spilling out from other bookcases. I thought he would be so pleased that I was actually willing to part with this marvelous set of magazines. Turns out, he was shocked I would even think of such a thing. “We can’t let them go now. Look what a treasure we have!”
So the National Geographic keeps coming, month by month. When we moved we were able to set them all in order by dates. But that was six years ago. So when I began to answer Charli’s questions and show her some of the wonderful contents, I realized the bottom two shelves were woefully out of order.
“I can fix them for you, Nana,” Charli proposed. Well, Nana thought that was a wonderful idea “for another day.”
I left the room to see about lunch and when I came back there was Charli in the midst of stacks of National Geographics happily organizing. Together we matched loose maps back to their proper issue, pausing of course to take a look at them. I told her maybe she’d be a librarian one day. In the meantime, I hope she’ll be inspired to look into the fantastic pages of this magazine that, issue by issue, shows us things about ourselves and about people we’d never know otherwise, about coffee plantations, volcanoes, hieroglyphics, and even some of the latest on the dreaded coronavirus.
Psalm 107:8 “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”