So here I am at the library again. I love this particular library, only seven minutes from our co-op. I'm here several hours every week. Tuesday morning is lesson prep day, Tuesday afternoon is our history lesson day, and Thursday afternoon is a time to recover from a busy week and busy morning of teaching. Sometimes Arielle and I just hang out together here with a cup of coffee until we go back to our last class.
It's quiet here, no distractions. People speak in low tones (until my loud kids arrive). The tables are roomy to spread out my books; the sunshine streams in the tall windows all around. And I'm surrounded by shelves of books, books, everywhere! It's the perfect place for planning, learning, preparing, dreaming.
I've always loved libraries, maybe because I didn't grow up with any--none in my elementary school, none in my little desert town. In high school I don't remember ever having time to go there. We did have a bookmobile that came to our neighborhood periodically. But then later in life I discovered the magical world of libraries. Old ones with musty smells and haunted aisles to explore. Small ones where you can just about go through the whole collection in a day. Before the days of inter-library loans you would read everything on the shelf by your favorite author and that would be it. In college I discovered the quiet, the peace, the grand opportunity to read anything about everything. I would spend long hours there, late into the afternoon with the sun setting outside the windows, while I did just what I am doing now--thinking, writing, studying.
Tuesdays I pick up Arielle, Liana and Steven from the co-op and we meet up with Steven's mom to do our history. The kids head first to the vending machines to get snacks, anything to delay the start of a lesson. Then we gather around a big table with paper and pens and maps and books. We've traveled through World War I, the Russian Revolution, and we're now heading into World War II. If we need a reference book, there it is on the shelf. A classic to read about our time period? There it is. If the library doesn't have what we need, we can order it.
I take Liana back to her theatre class and then come back to the library. Arielle and Steven do their homework, or wander through the shelves of DVDs, or work on the big jigsaw puzzle set up on another table. It's a dreamy time for them too, caught up in the silence and walls of books and movies. Cindy and I pass the time just talking. In hushed tones, of course.
We've had this routine since last September. We drove the country roads in the autumn when golden leaves scuttled along in front of us. Then winter when it was bitter cold out and the scenery was not pretty anymore. I would arrive wrapped in a scarf and layers of fleece. But inside the library, it was always toasty and the coffee hot. People speak softly and I work on lessons. Bliss.
The school year is winding down. The sunshine is brighter and the kids have trouble settling down. They are dreaming of summer. I realize we won't come here anymore once school is out. It's too far from our house. I will miss this library. But more than that, I will miss this year, this stage in my daughters' lives, the friendship and the laughter around the table.