from rainer maria rilke

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“You ask whether your poems are good. You send them to publishers; you compare them with other poems; you are disturbed when certain publishers reject your attempts. Well now, since you have given me permission to advise you, I suggest that you give all that up. You are looking outward and, above all else, that you must not do now. No one can advise and help you, no one.

There is only one way: Go within. Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of the night, ask yourself this: Must I write? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring assent, if you can confidently meet this serious questions with a simple, “I must,” then build your life upon it…progress quietly and seriously in your evolvement. You could greatly interfere with that process if you look outward and expect to obtain answers from the outside – answers which only your innermost feeling in your quietest hour can perhaps give you.”

drury lane books

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It had been 11 years since I last visited this tiny, beloved bookshop and when I rolled into town I was afraid that it would be gone – converted into something like a hip wood-fired pizza place – its demise a result of the Great Recession. (And I refused to look it up online because I was so horrified at the thought that I decided that the best course of action would be to act like an ostrich.) But, thank goodness, Drury Lane Books is still standing.

I glanced over the books displayed on the shelves and my leading thought, as my eyes moved around the room was, “Oh, I’ve always meant to read that and that and that and that…

I quickly made a teetering pile of books to purchase, struck up a conversation with the bookseller about what an excellent selection they have and how much, much bigger bookstores don’t come close to having such an amazing selection.

She said that she hears that a lot and she thinks it’s just because the booksellers and the people who live in the area enjoy the same books.

I replaced our copy of Antler, Bear, Canoe by Betsy Bowen which had fallen apart due to countless readings. I found the sequel to the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of 7-9 books that I’ve been searching for. A cookbook that has been on my wishlist for a few years finally made it home with me. Another book, Paddle to the Sea by Holling Clancy Holling that I’d only heard about, I got to hold in my hands, examine and then buy. Finally, they had a row of Willa Cather books done by Vintage Classic and I just couldn’t resist her Complete Stories.

And I left with so many Christmas gifts purchased and gratitude for places like this.

Long live Drury Lane!

red balloon bookshop

Continuing our independent bookstore tour:

Things here are relaxed and quiet and calm and clean and happy.

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A small, but important detail at this bookshop: the shelves are arranged in such a way that it is easy to keep track of kiddos. Because “sometimes it feels like bookshelves are arranged in such a way to best accommodate kidnappers,” said the paranoid Mama.

I love going to Red Balloon and letting my kids sit on the floor next to me with their own stack of books knowing that the floor is clean (enough). And I love not having to raise my voice to ask a question of one of the booksellers and then strain to hear a response. I love the little chairs and tables just right for kiddos.

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The staff has chops and are genuinely happy to talk books. At my last visit, they quickly retrieved a towering stack for me. And didn’t flinch when I only bought two of them.

almost like a tropical isle

After reading Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney about a million times, we finally made it to Como Park Conservatory.

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Now, it is clear to my little reader what a conservatory is and why they are so glorious (especially in the dead of winter) and what Miss Rumphius meant when she said, “This is almost like a tropical isle,”  said Miss Rumphius. “But not quite.”

Also, I’m thinking that I should investigate whether lupines will grow in my zone. I think planting trees would be the most awesome way to make the world a more beautiful place (that and writing books), but lupines seem more manageable.

Beech Mt 026

I can’t exactly wander around in a swingy, colorful cape, my palms filled with saplings that I fling over glen and dale.

from daniel h. pink

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“When facts become so widely available and instantly accessible, each one becomes less valuable. What begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact.”