FIRST: Book sighting in a store In the four and a half years I worked on Nature's Ambassador, I always knew what would signify that the project was really finished: seeing my books in Titcomb's Bookshop. Titcomb's is a beloved family-owned bookstore in East Sandwich on Cape Cod. It has a wonderful, warm, welcoming atmosphere, complete with shelves stacked with books you're suddenly dying to read and toys you realize are perfect for any child you know. The staff is marvelously friendly, enthusiastic, and helpful; the fact that they wrap presents is alone reason to come here. Needless to say, I was delighted when owner Vicky Titcomb Uminewicz said she would love to host the official launch of Nature's Ambassador.
A few days before the launch, I was driving past Titcomb’s on an errand when I spotted a large white sign near the road. It read “Christie Lowrance, Burgess Book Signing, Sunday 2-4.” I decided to stop in the bookstore on the return trip to thank the staff (and admire the sign!). As I walked up the stone path to the bookstore, I realized that the upper panes of its broad display window were ALL filled with copies of my book. Beaming, I opened the door and stepped inside. On a table near the front door nestled between Nancy Rubin Stuart’s outstanding Revolutionary War-era Defiant Brides and Susan Branch’s beautifully illustrated new book, A Fine Romance was a stack of my books.
Oh my. What a gorgeous sight. So colorful! So celebratory! So …legitimate. The smile on my face lasted halfway home, but the smile in my writer’s heart lasted for weeks.
FIRST: Book launch A few days later the launch for Nature's Ambassador was held at Titcomb's Bookshop on a glorious blue-sky, late summer Cape Cod afternoon. With Nancy Titcomb and her husband Ralph, who had opened the bookstore decades ago, I greeted arrivals beneath a small canopy outside the front of the store. Later we would consume root beer floats, Thornton Burgess' favorite drink, and a huge sheet cake iced on top with a bold colored replication of the Harrison Cady illustration on the front cover of Nature's Ambassador. Elizabeth Merritt, generally considered Titcomb's literary authority, invited everyone to go upstairs for my talk, and guests found a seat among the bookshelves in the upper level of the bookstore. I looked out at friends and neighbors seated smiling and expectant before me. My son Rob was grinning broadly, his wife Kimberly was snapping pictures, and their two children waved at Nana.
As I waited for Elizabeth to introduce me, I realized I was relaxed, extremely happy, and completely ready for this moment. The day held so many unique pleasures! How many people have the opportunity to dedicate a work to those they cherish? I am blessed with four grandchildren, "the ones Thornton Burgess wrote for." When I started this book, K was 3, R was 2, and G and J weren't yet born. K now stands up to my shoulders, R somewhat below him, J speaks French, and G can sing six verses of "Down by the Bay." To call two dear grandchildren forward, give them a Nana squeeze, and introduce them to those gathered at the launch was a golden moment in my life.
It felt wonderful to present a copy of Nature's Ambassador to Nancy Titcomb, founder of the Thornton W. Burgess Society, who has believed so fervently in his message of love and stewardship to nature and wildlife. It seemed a privilege to provide a special thank you to someone who had done so much to promote the Burgess legacy.
It felt wonderful to present a copy of Nature's Ambassador to Wayne Wright, the research librarian at the New York Historical Association who wrote Burgess' complete bibliography (2000) and was such a great help in confirming countless details about the author's literary work. A childhood reader of Burgess books, Wayne had traveled from Oneonta, New York to attend the book launch at Titcomb's!
As a professional writer for more than thirty years, I have savored many exquisite moments, but the book launch of Nature's Ambassador: The Legacy of Thornton W. Burgess will remain one of the most purely happy days of my life.
Christie Palmer Lowrance