Memories from long ago often come back more vividly as images than they do they do as detailed recollections. I found this to be true when I began writing about my childhood. The pictures I saw in my mind were so powerful that I had to recreate them. I started to draw. Rendering those images was like reliving episodes from the past. As a result, Masks: A Hudson Valley Childhood relies almost as much on illustrations as it does on narrative text. The story I wanted to tell was not unique: my mother raised six children, by herself, in the face of many challenges. Illness, poverty, shame--these marked her existence in the Hudson Valley. For her, life was hard, but for her children there were graces. First of all, there was her love, and then there was the natural setting of our home. We were surrounded by trees, streams and fields. We had the luxury of solitude, so that our secrets--and there were many--could be safe. Life it seemed would go on like this, unchanging. Then, one day, I woke to find my mother calm and resolute. She announced that we were leaving home. We packed our suitcases, caught the train to Grand Central Station and dissolved into the anonymity of New York City. I was eleven years old. I never returned to my Hudson Valley community, except for a brief visit. That is, not until now. With my hands and my mind, I have turned the clock back and claimed the legacy that was lost years ago: my Hudson Valley childhood.