Monday, August 19, 2013

Books and Berries


Sometimes I think of nice things I would like to do with Rafael, and then, while we are in the middle of it, I realize that it is a reenactment of a pleasant childhood memory of my own. Picking blackberries for pie and going to the library are recent examples.

I am sitting in our deep white couch now, with shins and forearms stinging from blackberry brambles. But it's a familiar feeling associated with something happy. We rode our bikes down a sunny dirt path this morning and picked blackberries under the hot August sun. Rafael doesn't know what pie is yet, but he will soon. I remember the huge messes of brambles that flanked the dusty dirt roads in my home town. Back then, as now, I would pick berries while thinking about eating the pies they would be put into. Washed in a colander, tossed with sugar and flour, poured into a yellow hollow of dough, topped with latticed strips, and then baked until the purple-red juice bubbled over. The impatient hours spent waiting for the baked pie to set, resisting the urge to slice it open...cutting the pie while it was hot and runny would ruin it. And then finally, you eat your first bite, and it is deliciously tangy, sweet, and buttery, all at once. 

Every step belongs to the ritual; the foraging, the thorn scrapes, the assembling, the baking, the waiting, the eating. Rafael is learning about it this summer.

Last week I dressed Raffi in a button-down shirt, slacks, and leather shoes. I told him about the library while we walked hand-in-hand on the sidewalk; that it's a place where you can borrow books. He was very interested in the idea, and kept repeating the concept back to me on our way: " can borrow books there. can borrow books there, right, Mommy?" "Yes, we borrow books at the library."

When we arrived, I told the two elderly librarians that this was my son's first trip to the library. I expected them to acknowledge that this was a special occasion, and to introduce him to the children's section. I was in fact very excited about this first trip to the library; I had fantasies about bonding with Rafael over piles of books, and about handing him his very first library card. In reality, the first thing he did was pull some books off of the shelf, and one librarian said, "Young man, would it be possible for you to not take books off of the shelves?" Rafael was already on his way to the next aisle, where he found children's dvds. My romantic notions were bursting. "Let's get this one, Bob the Builder, Mama! This one, yes? We can borrow it Mama!" "Yes, we'll borrow it, but look over here, look at these books Raffi, look how wonderful."

There were whole crates filled with children's books, many of them quite old, with lovely illustrations. After some coaxing, I did get Rafael to leave the dvd section and join me in looking at books. We picked out four, and then I saw it: The Lupine Lady, one of my favorite books from childhood. And suddenly I was transported back to the library of my childhood, cool and quiet, with the sweet, musty, lovely smell of books. The large windows looking out onto the street; the tiny table with the tiny computer sitting on it; Anne of Green Gables, The Babysitters Club, The Hounds of the Morrigan. I remembered venturing into the adult's section and finding an enormous hardcover book with paintings from Van Gogh, and looking at those sunflowers for a long, long time. 

It became so clear to me why taking Rafael to the library was important to me: this was something I had enjoyed as a child, and I wanted to make sure he enjoyed it, too.

We got our family library card, and checked out five books, including The Lupine Lady, and yes, a Bob the Builder dvd. Rafael watched while the librarian pounded the stamp onto the slips inside, and then we tucked the books into his little felt bag and left. It wasn't as romantic as I had imagined; but it was real, and special, and we'll go back many times, I think. I hope Rafael will make some good memories there.



  1. Wow Dawn, yes you did love the Bolinas library and spent many hours on the floor reading and looking at the pictures. I was so proud of you and still am. Sucha good head on your shoulders on top of a beautiful heart. Miss you and bonding with Raffi....

  2. How fun to take Raffi to the library, I remember how I loved library visits as a child. My mom, and then me turned out to be librarians. The old books and the new, it is all good. Plus berry pie, of course.
    I am having a book give away on my blog today.

  3. What a wonderful experience for Raffi! We spent many hours with our girls in the library when they were growing up. The librarians were always happy to see us come because we helped the circulation numbers as we would leave with bags full of books.

    You had my mouth watering and wanting berry pie!


  4. Perfect post to read today :) I spent Saturday afternoon picking berries on Larch with my mom and dad -- it's the height of the season. Still picking the stickers out of my hands, a day later!

    I bet Raffi will learn to love the library as much as you do :)

  5. I currently live across the street from the library that I visited at a child. Taking my own daughter to that same library did bring back a lot of memories. Your son is growing into such a handsome little man.

  6. Ah what a lovely story...I could so clearly imagine it! :)

  7. Aww... lovely. You made a memory for your son and you. Bah to that boring old lady! As a child, I loved going to the library.

  8. I can remember how much my son loved to go to the library. He would always want the maximum amount of books they allowed to be checked out. It was great for his language development and learning as books could be tied in to outings and adventures.

  9. This post brought back so many memories! Anne of Green Gables, the Lupine Lady... To this day, I still regularly go to the library to check out books. It's my favorite day in the week when I go, never knowing which books will find their way into my bag. A homemade blackberry pie isn't to be forgotten either and is on my list for this weekend!

  10. "Pounded the stamp".... Ah, how I clearly remember that sound from when I was little! I used to go to the library all the time with my Grandma and they stamped the dates. Now, everything is computerized and it is not the same. I also order my library books online and they are all ready to go when I pick them up. But when my niece was little, I took her all the time and we looked through the shelves, enjoying ourselves and taking our time. I do love Amazon, but I "preview" many books at the library too!

    I recently found a notebook at Barnes and Noble whose cover was decorated with the old stamp dates from library books, that was the design on the cover. It reminded me of all the trips to the library with my Grandma and I bought it.:)

    Sorry to hear the one librarian was grouchy. You will find one that adores Raffi!

    Take care,

  11. came across your blog. beautiful photos. -Alexandra



Related Posts with Thumbnails