|Pulpit of Bones: Books, books, books|
|June 02, 2011 Deb Carpenter-Nolting|
Mom read to us at naptime. When I entered Kindergarten, I learned to decipher for myself the markings on the printed page. Dick and Jane and Spot were my friends, and fairy tales were my treasures. Today, as a reader, a writer, and a teacher, books still make up the pages of my life.
This fact has never been more obvious to me than during these past few months as we collected books for my daughter Jamie’s store, The Sisters Grimm. Our personal collections fill wall-to-wall bookshelves in both Tim’s office and in my office and the family room in the basement, but now there are also boxes and piles of books for the store stacked in the basement, our living room, computer room, bedrooms, as well as in the loft of the horse barn we are converting into her store.
In the mad rush before the sneak peek Open House scheduled for June 4, I have been helping Jamie price and sort these books. When the store’s bookshelves are wiped down and the bookstalls are swept once more, we will begin moving the piles from the house to the barn.
With less than a week remaining until the public walks through the doors of her business, I have wondered if the books will be ready. Last night I woke several times, visualizing the boxes and boxes and boxes of hardbacks and paperbacks that still must be prepared before we can stock the shelves.
As I lay there worrying, counting books instead of sheep, I began to think of the significance of tomes in our lives, and how privileged we are in this country to have a high value placed on literacy. I thought back on my week and shelved these volumes of memories between bookends.
One early morning, I caught my toe on one of the stacks in the computer room and ended up on the multiple book piles in a full-body embrace. After assessing the situation and discovering that neither the books nor I suffered damage, I had to laugh. What a glorious way to start the day, lips in the romance section, children’s books under my heart, classics supporting my mid-section, and religious books prodding my legs.
Not only did I encounter books at home this week, but also at school. On Tuesday afternoon, May 24, I packed up my personal books along with final traces of my three years at Gering High School. I said my goodbyes and closed that chapter of my life.
On Thursday I turned to the next chapter and met with my future Burns High School colleagues. In the morning we discussed curriculum and testing and literacy. In the afternoon I toured the school and entered my new classroom for the first time. I sat alone in the room for several minutes, looking around at the texts, reading the titles on the shelf in the “Book Nook” and contemplating the blank pages that will soon be filled with new entries.
Back at home, I changed clothes and walked to the barn. The electricians were hard at work bringing power to the store. Tim continued his non-stop efforts, at this moment preparing for the plumbing. Our daughter Jessie’s fiancé Juan was on the tractor, filling trenches and smoothing the dirt in the parking lot. Jamie sanded rough edges off the bookshelves in the Children’s section. Our dogs, Topper and Chloe, made a general nuisance of themselves. Later, while Tim made a quick trip to Scottsbluff for more supplies, Jamie and I sorted more books. That night, before sleeping, I grabbed a book from the pile by my bed and read until my eyes would no longer stay open.
I am anxious for the books we’ve been housing to move into their new home. I will certainly visit them. Some days, I will find myself in the mystery section, some days I will be searching for a how-to reference. Some days when I am babysitting the store, I will sit in a comfortable chair and revel in travel or wander from stall to stall, thinking of the horses that once stayed here. Perhaps there is not so much difference between horses and books after all. Both transport us to places we wish to go.
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. But since words have wings, readers can fly. Heaven is a barn full of books, and Pegasus is waiting on the rooftop.
Read more by Deb Carpenter-Nolting