Friday, April 16, 2010

The Circle of Life


The sun peeks out, the buds swell with rosy color blushing velvet cheeks, and the fragrance of lilac fills the air. I do believe spring has come . . .

And yet, the nights still chill and the odd snow/rain storms interrupt our celebrations. Winter has dragged its heels and refuses to leave. Surely this has been the longest winter of my life, but also a highly productive one. Much reading and learning, much cleaning and discarding of the house and the heart have busied my wintry space. Oh, but how I long for winter to be over so that I can be carefree in the meadows a-bloom with newness. I am ready for some outdoor dancing. These cottage walls have closed in a bit around my burgeoning spirit.

My journal and my Bible have been my steady companions throughout these frozen, snowy, Narnian Days of a season spanning the demise of one year and the dawn of the next. I have scribbled countless pages and spilled oodles of ideas and notions and hurts and fears all washed in prayers and tears of sorrow or laughter, depending on the moment . . . depending on the mood. I corral these pennings safely between the covers of pretty journals and then squirrel that bound journey away in a box of other solo musings that may someday brighten, enlighten, or entertain a reader. For now the journals congregate in a “box” of writings which overflows onto the neighboring spaces like a library outgrowing its confines. ‘Tis becoming a bit eccentric around here even for my eclectic decorating style, I muse, as I grapple several of the excessive volumes and topple them into a nearby basket. My definition of “tidy” has expanded right along with my ever-growing acquisitions from the world of print (both my own and others).

My children laugh that they will need to check in on me regularly as I age; for fear that I will be imprisoned (or worse, crushed!) by my bookish habits. The neat and tidy shelving that holds biographies here and cookbooks there, British Lit in this precise place and American Lit sprawling on another shelf, and all the rest of the obedient books lined according to subject or author have been joined by a rag-tag set of newcomers. This legion of recently-acquired titles clumps together according to newness and eagerness to be read. This stack by my bed holds deliciously fun reading for bedside or bathtime. I see Barbara Pym beckoning me to give her a chance to win my heart but Bess Streeter Aldrich has newly arrived and plopped down on top of Miss Pym. And so the stack grows, yet the day remains a mere 24-hour stretch. (*sigh*)  Hold tight ladies and gentlemen of the bedside stance, I shall get to you all in good time.

I glance over to my sitting room and flinch in surprise at the stacks and piles and careless sorting of titles that defy demarcation, but cry out to be taken in hand. Books with titles keen to encourage slowing down or saving time, dancing freely or thinking deeply. In the midst rises a tower of overflow from Rachel’s burgeoning shelves – Peter Pan and Wendy have landed here alongside, Aslan, and Miss Princess Sarah Crewe and so many more childhood favorites I have a notion would be worth rereading now that I have rediscovered them right at my fingertips.  But, today I have no time, so I must return these to Rachel’s room.  Surely her shelving cannot be full to capacity?  But as I pop into her room for a quick peruse, I find (you guessed it) stacks of books on the dresser, on the floor, and atop other books awaiting a permanent place. Oh dear!  The Inn appears full here as well!  I return to my room and find another semi-full basket (which now tops out).

TRA-LAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Fleeing downstairs at the call of a whistling kettle, I absent-mindedly trip and tumble on the pyramid of “top list” reads I have gathered around my favorite reading chair. Flora Thompson (in several volumes), Elisabeth Eliot, Sue Bender, and Molly Wizenberg shutter toward the fireplace in an avalanche of print. “Whoopsies!” I laugh as I leap over the cascade and rescue the teakettle from laryngitis. While the teapot steeps I return to scoop up the books and set them safely out of the walkway, but a dilemma arises . . . will that stack over by the tea table safely support another pound or two or good-reads? Maybe this shelf’s contents can s-q-u-e-e-z-e a bit to the left and take on one more . . . nope . . . oh bother! Okay, I’ll just heft this load over next to . . . But, sadly I see that I have no next to’s left next to anything. I have bibliophilic excess EVERYWHERE in this house! (Don’t even ask me about our full-sized guest house next door which houses office, guest rooms, and heavy-laden BOOKSHELVES! AAAaaaahhhhhh!)

What to do? What to do? I scurry around clutching a vital part of my “collection” and end up dizzy from turning this way and that in search of SPACE. I catch a whiff of Lavender Earl Grey emanating from the Blue Willow teapot and I immediately set down the books on the ottoman (a free surface . . . imagine that!) and make off to find a teacup and saucer. The teacup cupboard teems with teetering china beauties alongside sturdier mugs and French demi-tasse café ware all stacked and steadied just so. I peruse but fail to find a favorite for this mood, and so I venture to the dining room and browse the offerings ensconced in glass-fronted displays, antique sideboards, and open-shelving. Copious choices vie for my attention, some even calling from a tabletop unsuitable for housing teacups. Oh my, I sputter . . . the bookish dis-ease seems to have mutated thus far and now includes a tea-cup flush, which looks to be spreading to the teapot realm as well!

Now rather than panic, I choose the only sensible route: I quickly select a vintage Blue Willow teacup and saucer, carry them to the tea tray, which I then transport carefully (so as not to stumble on any books that may have toppled since my last sashay through the keeping room) to my favorite chair and tuffet. Alas, when I arrive I discover the books earlier placed atop the footstool. Naturally, I lay the tray on the chair, gather up the superfluous volumes, set them on the floor next to the hassock, heft the tray from chair to footrest, and then proceed to pour out a cup of refreshment.



While sipping slowly I gather one of those “overflow” books and open it to take a peek . . .


and the circle of life here at Wisteria Cottage continues . . .


. . . as does the miscellaneous stacking of books.

“I doubt this bibliophilic penchant will prove fatal,” I say with a grin as a child peers down through the banister, calling out, “Is everything okay?” in response to the recent spate of crashes and bangs. A smile creeps across my face as I recall the years I rushed to their playroom to inquire about safety following a loud noise.

The circle of life continues . . .



* * *
Postscript:
I confess . . . I have Elizabeth Brown's affliction.  Are you acquainted with Miss Brown?  Truly we are cut from the same cloth (minus the red hair, of course).

7 comments:

Tricia said...

Recently we have taken on the task of cataloguing and organizing all of our mounds of books. I said I would buy no more until the task is complete and yet, just a few books into the process, I am making a list of ones I would like to add to the collection. A friend told me that not all books are worth reading and not all books worth reading are worth keeping but we are having such a time finding even one in our collection to part with! :)

Linda said...

I love my library! It has any book I want, and if they don't have it, they will get it in a day or two, and I don't have to buy them. I still have way too many to read for the time allotted!

Good to hear from you again, Debbie!

Kelley said...

How good it is to see a post from you...
I have missed you but know that you are busy keeping the homefires burning.

I do hope you get this~ I have been having computer troubles =(

Hang on Spring is coming...

Karen Deborah said...

That book cover is YOU!! Are you sure your wild curls have not changed color? Did we not tote a red wagon on a few of our excursions? Or just talk about the need for one. If you have filled up both houses you may have to slow down on the library. But no it isn't fatal. I love the "circle of life."

Anonymous said...

Time to watch Fahrenheit 451 again...
Gary

Kat said...

Every winter seems to be too long for me. ;) Good think I live in Wisconsin. Egad!
But yes, it does give us more time to catch up on great books. :)

Kathy said...

I love books.
LOL @ Gary