The Children’s Reading Room

Posted on May 10, 2012


The other day I was at the library with my head in the 19th century when it came to me that it was raining outside, hard.  At about the same moment I remembered that I had left all the car windows open to keep it cool.  I splashed out to the car to close the windows and cuss myself for a fool. Then I grabbed a dog towel out of the back seat and ran back into the library to wait for the rain to stop. It’s a great comfort to live in a place where you can sit in the Library with your head wrapped in a pale blue towel in the middle of a rainy afternoon without causing a lot of unnecessary questions. Comments, but no questions.

While I was drying my hair I had plenty of time to admire the views. I’ve mentioned before that the Elk Rapids Library is a fine example of adaptive reuse. The mid-19th century house is perched on top of a sand hill on a tiny island in Grand Traverse Bay. From its windows you can see the marina, the lofty white pines, the steep staircase on Library Hill, some picnic tables . . . and rain, rain, rain.

I love the whole place, but one of my favorite parts of it, and an exceptionally cozy place to hide out waiting for a thundery sort of rainstorm to end, is the Children’s Reading Room.

Pull up a chair, pick out a book you loved when you were little.  Grab a puppet.  I wanted to take these fuzzy guys home with me.

I watched the rain pelt down.  Talked to the crow, who didn’t answer.

It reminded me of rainy days on the porch of a house on the Esopus Creek some fifty-five years ago, and that reminded me that I am an old bat.  I tend toward nostalgia on rainy days.  Ah well.

This evening Aaron Coleman called and made me feel like a young whippersnapper again. He said he’d been looking through Torch Lake Views and had found the picture of the potato planter. He told me that not only did he know what it was, but that if I had gone over there a little earlier he’d have showed me how the thing worked. They’re done planting their potatoes now, so I missed the opportunity to watch that, but there will be a lot more to see. The potato digger for example.

The Colemans, it turns out, keep a lot of old equipment running just for the sheer pleasure of making it work. And that reminds me of a lot of farmers Around Here who have a deep affection for vintage tractors and there I am going down rabbit trails again.  It comes to me that I may be an old bat but I have learned a thing or two.  One of them is that a practical appreciation for the past, a real connection to it, is a lot better than nostalgia.