Tuesday, August 23, 2011


At the dog park this week, I sat on the bench with my book while George ran around, and it was a fairly quiet, uncrowded morning on the small-dog side. After a few pages, the metal gate squeaked as a woman entered with her schnauzer. The dog ran inside and straight to George, and the woman waited impatiently at the entrance for her daughter who straggled behind, thirty feet down the sidewalk.

The girl was slow because she was reading. Her face was hidden in the pages of a thick hardback she held up directly in front of her, but somehow she was able to walk the whole distance without averting her eyes, almost as if there were eye holes cut in the middle of the book so she could see through.

My mom’s voice drifted in my memory, “Get your nose out of that book!” Mom used to say that often, not to discourage my reading but to get me to put it down long enough to eat a meal or say a few sentences. This girl at the dog park was just like me, way back then with my nose in a book.

While the girl moved across the park to stand in the shade of a tree, I remembered another girl I had met a few years ago, in Hawaii.

It was early morning and my husband was still asleep in our beach rental. I sat in my usual chair and stared at the waves with my sketchpad on my lap. I usually took my sketchpad on trips but never felt inclined to sketch. This time, I had relaxed enough to be inspired. And since this was my daily morning spot, I decided to claim it on paper. I began by outlining the huge knotty tree next to me, with its curved branch that reached toward the water and the cluster of rope that hung from its trunk.

Suddenly a girl about thirteen years old appeared by the tree and said, “Hello.” She was freckled and skinny and looked up into the big tree’s branches.

I returned her greeting and continued my sketch while she climbed up the tree and sat on an upper branch. “Well, I found my reading spot,” she said with satisfaction.

A girl after my own heart, I thought. And sure enough, I saw her up there in the tree with a book several times during our vacation.

Readers share a kinship. We may read different books and sit in different countries, in varied houses and apartments and farms, but reading takes us to the same place.

Right now I’m reading Jane Fonda’s Prime Time, The Scarlet Letter, and The Greatest Generation, depending on my mood. What are you reading?

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