Yesterday was catch-up with the neighbors day. People here are very different from where I am currently living. They wave. They pull into your driveway if they see your car and you’ve been gone a while. They share food and mow your property when your mower breaks. They drop by on their way to town to see if you want to go to dinner, or need something from the store. They leave their homes unlocked if they think you might need something when you’re out and for some strange reason you don’t already have a key to their place. They also gossip like crazy, lol! I’ve been caught in a feud or two up here just by virtue of knowing both parties, and I always try to walk the reconciliation line between them. We’re too remote, too dependent on kindness up here, to have feuds run any length of time in my opinion.
Two of my neighbors (this term is loose, one is 1/2 mile away, the other a little over a mile) are in the process of new home construction, so I got the grand tours yesterday. I got to hear all about the special crane floated over the ocean to put one modular home together atop the hill. I got to see handmade and hand stained ceilings, and examine the different deals made on countertop materials, and view enough cabinet space to put my kitchen, my mom’s kitchen and probably some small restaurant’s needs at ease 🙂 And I got to sit on the yet unfinished porch and watch horses romp after feeding surrounded by a pack of ten dogs – German Shepherds, Pyrs, Australian Shepherds and Dachshunds. A thorough tick check followed that close-knit welcome from the pack! Dogs are serious up here, as they round-up livestock, guard them and guard the property of their owners. When I return after being away for a spell, I always have to exit my vehicle slowly, stand by while I am investigated and then wait for the lead guard to barkingly announce I’ve cleared inspection, at which time the welcome ratchets up a notch by all the remaining parties. I was lucky yesterday as only one of them had been pond swimming prior to my arrival, so the mud and slobber count wasn’t too bad. When I finally made it to a chair, I promptly had a lap companion and a growling match began around my feet as about three hundred pounds of dogs angled for the best and closest position to the visitor. Suffice it to say that when I visit this neighbor, I am NEVER dressed in anything that I’m going to regret having dog contact with 🙂
Stuff. I’ve no one to blame but myself. Living small as I do down in Florida, I’ve come to carefully evaluate the need for something, or the elimination of something, should I choose to make a purchase of a non-consumable item. I simply have no room. Prior to this living situation, I’ve always lived in fairly large homes, normally in excess of 2,000 square feet, and at times in excess of 3,000 square feet. There were always closets and spare bedrooms to hold the goods. Plus, since I’ve been living out of boxes for close to ten years, I’ve toted my life around the country quite a bit, each time lightening the load, or so I thought. Returning here showed me the flaws in my memory. I began the sorting and tossing in the easiest room, my former office. Because I previously worked from home for years, I could stock a small office supply store with the things I’m getting rid of! Then there is the gardening stuff, the craft stuff, the cooking stuff, the canning stuff, and my excess of books. I love books. Old books, new books, cookbooks, how-to books, books on plants, books on trees, books on herbs and medicines, books on home decor and outside maintenance – books, books, books. Obviously I’m going to have to pare down my library to something the Honda can take back home without the frame sitting on the ground. Of all the things I need to divest myself of, this will be the hardest of all. Some of my books are out of print, early 1900’s things. Others are simply hard to find. If you want to rid yourself of me for a span of time, drop me off at a bookstore, any kind of bookstore. I could linger for days. Or if you don’t want me to bring something home permanently, try the library instead. I’ve tried to determine where this obsession with books comes from. My earliest memory comes from escaping to the library when I was young, maybe eight or nine. The cool, dark recesses of that library, with its window-wall of glass, was my refuge, my sanctuary from the turmoil and pain at home. In that place, I could pick up a book of my choosing, drop into a big, comfy chair, and go anywhere or be anyone else I desired. I’d skate or ride my bike down there early in the morning, and stay all day when I could. The best days were rainy days, when the wall of glass held gushing, splattering patterns while the rain beat down outside. It was like being inside of an aquarium. And the quiet; I loved the quiet, hushed atmosphere along with the smell of all of those hundreds and thousands of books lined up on shelves. So I guess books mean peace to me and safety to me. Reading also quiets my mind, gives it something new to do; images to craft of places, people, things; new words to savor and try out on the tongue; and the ability to learn something I didn’t know five minutes ago. Yeah, I am a certified bibliophile. And I’ll share a little secret. While others ooohed and aaahhed over dining room furnishings or living room furnishings, my mind has always held a vision of a library, like those ones in movies, with a fireplace in the midst of floor to ceiling books on shelves of fine wood rubbed to a warm patina, with a deep leather chair for curling up in and a soft carpet for walking on. Reality says I’ll never have a room like that, and that’s okay with me. It still lives in my mind as a warm, safe, book-smelling place that I can retrieve any time from the recesses of my mind. And that’s easy to pack 🙂
The one thing I do not miss from living up here is tornado season. My weather radio went off in the pre-dawn hours, giving advance notice of the high winds and likely severe weather we’ll face today. This means plan adjustments, as now I have to brave the basement. I’ve grown a little squeamish having been gone from here so long, and the basement is my least favorite place in the house until I get reacclimated. Seems I’ll need to reacclimate a little sooner than I planned. While the small generator and other things are charging in advance of the storms, I’ll need to go downstairs, put lightbulbs in the burned out sockets, and see how many mice, spiders and other critters I can scare while they are scaring me! Big, fat centipedes show up in my basement a couple of times a year, but they don’t bother me. I get to wonder if owner of the snake-skin found last visit is still hanging around down there, feasting on field mice or if it moved on out. This is one chore that I wish I had someone to share with me, I admit it. However, once I get the lighting fixed and assure myself there’s no huge snake down there, it really is a cool (literally) and safe place to ride out the weather. And I can get some work done while down there and keep my mind off the weather. So the generator is charging, along with the electronics. I’ve set aside water in case I lose power, so the toilet can be used. I charged the solar lantern prior to leaving Florida. The weather map is still on the wall downstairs. And my bug-out bag is safely in the house with me. That’s about all that I can do to prepare. The rest is in God’s hands. If things go well, on the back side of the weather will be brisk, Blackberry Winter air for me to relish during my time here, crisp mornings and cool afternoons, even if only for a few days. So wish me well downstairs. I think I’ll shed my sandals and shorts and change into jeans and boots; much better for post-weather yard inspection anyway, and it keeps the critters off of bare legs, lol!
And here I thought my book fetish might be an unknown thing – but apparently there are others out there like me, per these couple of quotes:
“She closed the book and put her cheek against it. There was still an odor of a library on it, of dust, leather, binding glue, and old paper, one book carrying the smell of hundreds.”
Shannon Hale, The Goose Girl
“There is nothing like the smell of books, both new and old. If someone ever bottled the smell, I would be all over it .”
Tiffany King, Meant to Be
I couldn’t find photo credit for this shot, but it was found on Ali Donahue’s article “For the Love of Books…” at the Dispatch.
Be well. Read a book. Lose yourself to imagination. Share your inner self with another.