Old Books

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I love old books. Today, I received five bird idenfication guides from an ebay purchase last week. All were used, some published half a century ago, and each wore the visible history of itís long existence. I thumbed through them all, reading the notations in margins, unfolding and refolding the dog ears of yellowing pages.

Suddenly, I realized a subtle intimacy, like a second lover unavoidably entangled in the lingering passion of his predecessor. I felt that somehow, whenever I carried one of the books afield, I would be holding the hand of the others whose lives it had moved through. Perhaps it was once a fatherís gift to a cherished son, or the birthday present for a favored niece. Perhaps the dogeared page was the memento of a grandmother, when late in life, she first saw a rosette spoonbill flying crimson across an amber sunset.

I thought of my own treasured library collection. Who would someday turn the pages Iíve owned? Would they find the feather tucked between the endcovers, and would they wonder about me and somehow know of the day on the marshes and how the light fell down upon my head like spring rain. Might it be the curiosity of a yet-unknown grandchild that leads them to smooth the dogears which have marked the days of my life, or the interest of a stranger who, like me, might come to treasure both the knowledge and the human pathways which brought it to us?

And as I sat, my hands caressing the old covers, I realized that perhaps, rather than monuments or memorials, just perhaps this is a goal worth reaching; to be remembered for the turned down pages of our existence, for the notations we leave, in the margins of our lives.

-- Lon, the bayou birdbrain (lgal@exp.net), October 23, 2004

Answers

sniffle ... Beautiful, Lon, beautiful.

-- helen (mule@sniffles.too), October 23, 2004.

Old books & old houses stir my imagination. It's as if some memory of past owners stays with them.

I hope you enjoy the bird books. Unfortunately I am useless with them because as soon as the bird is out of sight I have forgotten exactly which bit was red and where the yellow band was etc. I'm a bit better identifying nests as they have the decency to keep still (mostly).

-- Carol (c@oz.com), October 25, 2004.


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