When I was a little girl, I loved to take a book and an old quilt and head for the swing in our backyard. While there, I traveled to faraway lands and met some interesting characters. Though there were plenty of interesting characters in Sycamore, the people I met in the pages of library books took me on journeys through forests, big cities, and westward. (I’m remembering, Girl of the Limberlost, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Jubilee Trail, all books I read several times over).
When I heard Meryl Streep deliver the line, “I’ve been a mental traveler,” in her role as Isak Dinesen in Out of Africa, I identified completely. I devoured so many library books, especially in the summer reading program, that I worried about what I would do when I had read all the books. My husband and children were amused by this revelation until they saw the tiny building that had housed my childhood world of literature.
Now I no longer fear reading all the books. I fear not having time to read all the wonderful stories I want to read. I fear not remembering which titles I have read. I fear wasting time reading bad writing.
I do appreciate instant access to, if not all the books, many more books than I can read, in the palm of my hand. Yes, I love my shelves of books, I love visiting the public library (I spent some time there yesterday) but I also love reading on my iPad. I can browse new titles, read reviews, perhaps check out the author’s website, and download sample pages or an entire book without ever leaving home.
Sunday afternoon was cool enough to spend quite a while in the swing. With the overhead fan adding to the natural breeze, and the sound of the sprinkler and the occasional bird calling in the background, I was transported to dreamland. I was reading, then dozing. But in the half-here/half-there consciousness for which Sunday afternoons are famous, I realized that I was living a dream. In a swing. On my front porch. On a summer afternoon. With a breeze, a book, and a lawn sprinkler.
Simple pleasures are the best.