Monday, May 16, 2005

A watercolor by Lerri Peterson of Malaga Cove Library:

Beth wrote a beautiful post about her trip to the library last week.
It made me remember going to our tiny neighborhood library in California, an old stucco building with a red tile roof sitting under massive trees, always cool and a little damp feeling (looking back I hope not! damp isn't good for books!) I spent an awful lot of time there as a child, my Mother was a voracious reader and I became one too - checking out stacks of 8-10 books was a weekly errand, sometimes followed by a trip to the plaza bakery for a sugar cookie. Once my sister left for college when I was seven, reading filled in the lonelier moments, which I hear is what Laura Bush is telling people now about her experience as an only child. The grounds were on a rather steep slope, and on warm summer days you'd find me rolling down the grassy hill, or dabbling in the huge Spanish fountain on the flagstone steps leading to the neighborhood below which deliciously held water lilies and goldfish.

Beth talks about the volumes of biographies and the journeys of people the library holds, but I was typically found in either the fiction areas desperately hoping for another book by a favorite author, or in the nonfiction area reading every book on some subject which I had no direct experience with... Backpacking and camping, or the world of extrasensory perception for example. A favorite for a while were the books written by people who hunt ghosts. I could still walk right to that bookshelf in the library which held them, although by now I'm sure they must have rearranged.

The neighborhood libraries near my current home have no real character, but my daughter also enjoys checking out stacks of books, and for that it's worth the trip. But next time I visit my Dad I think I'll go back to my old childhood library and just inhale deeply, wet my fingers in the fountain, sit under the massive magnolia tree and listen to the birds just to make sure I don't forget one of my favorite places and how it felt to go there. Refresh that memory so it will last the next 30 years! And in the meantime, if you haven't yet, go visit Beth. While I wax nostalgic, she connects the local sights to much broader perspectives and writes in beautiful photographic detail to boot.

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