Amy Zydanowicz’s childhood summers in Munsonville and Nelson left such a positive impression on her that she wrote a children’s book based on her memories, Wishes Hidden in the Grass. Zydanowicz captures the innocence of her carefree days visiting the Granite State, creating the characters of Amelia and her grandmother.
In real life, Zydanowicz, along with her siblings, cousins, and family friends, spent summer vacations, fall weekends, and holidays at her grandparents’ home located near Granite Lake. Dubbed the “Red House” family farm, it was built in the 1950s by her grandfather, Al Guida, Jr., who later donated portions of the farm to build an extension to the Nelson Elementary School. Today, Red House is still the family’s treasured meeting place, as it has been for four generations.
“There was the usual rivalry and camaraderie between all of us kids. We always had something to do and someone to do it with whether we were ice skating on the local pond, sledding down the hills of Old Town Road, or jumping off the island rocks into the lake. We were never bored. After we played together, there were the necessary chores to do together as well,” said Zydanowicz.
One chore she did not mind was hanging laundry outdoors to dry with her grandmother. After they were done, Zydanowicz and her grandmother would hunt for four-leaf clovers in the grass. Her grandmother always had an eye for finding these rare clovers. The pair’s special relationship is a major factor in the story and is part of the underlying theme of what it takes to find the rare four-leaf clover.
Zydanowicz dedicated this story to her beloved grandmother, Lottie Guida. “Grannie lived her life according to a specific set of virtues,” explained Zydanowicz. “She taught us important life lessons while cherishing the time we could all play and be together. Her constant demonstration of patience, compassion, forgiveness, and love were guiding virtues that all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren abide by today. Readers will come to understand these virtues and their relevance to four-leaf clovers as they read this book.”
Another link to the area in Wishes Hidden in the Grass is four-legged Mac, a chocolate Labrador retriever who was actually part of a litter born to a family living on Granite Lake. Mac and his antics only add to the twists and turns of the story.
Mac, Amelia, and Grannie were lovingly depicted with illustrations by Zydanowicz’s collaborator and aunt, Fran Guida. Guida also spent her childhood summers and vacations in Munsonville. With soft pastels and whimsical drawings, she captured the natural surroundings of the family farm and many of Zydanowicz’s favorite outdoor activities, from catching frogs to swinging on the tree swing. Today, she resides in Plymouth, Mass., and volunteers her time by playing the piano for people of all ages.
“Working together with my aunt was a true joy as we shared memories so dear to both of us. I hope those who read this story discover their own meanings to the four virtues and how they incorporate them into their own lives,” she added.
Zydanowicz, who lives south of Boston with her dog, Clover, has donated a copy of Wishes Hidden in the Grass to the Nelson Library.