A Library Collection

I am in a very special spot in the world, Lopez Island yes, but more specifically the Lopez Island LibraryThis little library in a community of 2400 is a five-star rated library, a prestigious ranking from the Library Journal. One of only two in the state to receive this distinction, the other one has an annual budget of $30+ million while the library here on Lopez has less than $400,000.

This week we attended the Lopez Island Library's 34th Annual Teddy Bear Picnic. Since his teddy bears are back at home, Xavier took Peter Rabbit as his guest. We've been attending story time on Wednesdays while on the island and it is one of the best place to feel like a local. I like to peek in libraries to get a sense of a community and I have a few favorite libraries in the world. Some are grand, some cozy, but all very magical. Over the years, I have collected them like gems.

In the beginning, there was the Bookmobile that parked down the street from my house in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Tuesday afternoons. At the main branch of the library I was allowed to check out framed art by the likes of Renoir for my bedroom walls in addition to books.

Then there was my library, the one I lovingly organized in my basement when I was in grade school.  I spent a week categorizing my family's books and made library cards for my friends. I don't think I ever officially opened the library, I just had such fun cataloging it. Sometimes I think I missed my calling.

During my Rotary Youth Exchange year in Turkey I visited Ephesus where the Library of Celsus is the most intact surviving ancient library in the world. I could hear the whooshing of robes and patter of soft voices from ghosts of patrons and scholars here.

I spent a lot of time studying and daydreaming in the Bapst Art Library while I was at Boston College, which ranks first on this list of Most Beautiful Campus Libraries. Just walking into this library made me feel smarter and infused with the wisdom of the ages.

I fell madly in love with Thomas Jefferson at his library at Monticello.

Like millions of others, I also have a special place in my heart for the New York Public Library's two pink Tennessee marble lions, Patience and Fortitude.

If one happens to be very pregnant and not skiing, one can spend a snowy day curled up in an armchair with a pile of books at the Whistler Library in British Columbia. This reading room was mentioned on this list of Incredible Reading Rooms Around the World.

In Europe, I've walked in awe through the Melk Abbey Library in Austria, the Vatican Library and the Trinity College Library in Dublin. In Portugal, Christian and I had the Biblioteca Joanina at the University of Coimbra all to ourselves and watched tiny bats ruffle the air as they flew about. We just recently visited the Wren Library in Cambridge where I was thrilled to come across A.A. Milne's handwritten manuscript for Winnie-the-Pooh. (A fun side note: Maggie Wren Crume, the infant daughter of my friend Catherine is named after Christopher Wren, this architect ancestor in their family tree and her name is doubly symbolic as they are also a birding family).

On the other end of the spectrum from royalty-funded libraries, when Christian and I traveled to Vietnam we raised money to donate a mobile library for poor rural schools through GoPhilanthropic and Global Village Foundation. We personally presented the children with a library of 250 books, half in Vietnamese, half in English at a special all-school assembly. It was definitely a highlight of our trip.

Back in Seattle Rem Koolhas sparked controversy with his design for the downtown public library (the other five-star library in Washington with a very healthy budget), but I like it. However I spend more time at our neighborhood Carnegie branch in Greenlake which I frequent on a weekly basis. There I can check out more books about beautiful libraries in the world such as...

Happy Summer Reading!


Evelyn All Brand New

My new niece is born! My older brother's family is here with us on the island and after hearing the happy news last night we all went down to the beach with a bottle of wine to watch the Super Moon rise over the water and toast our sister and her new daughter. This morning I sat on the deck in the morning sun and wrote a little occasional poem to commemorate her birth.

Evelyn All Brand New

Bringer of great happiness,
radiant little Evelyn
all brand new,
you chose a fragrant July evening
to arrive, rising to the world just
before the Super Moon,
illuminating this bright world
even more.

Add your light
to the sum of light,
wrote Leo Tolstoy (someone
you will want to read later and
we can discuss over tea and sugar
cookies). You have already
accomplished this in your first
hours, radiating joy
to all of us
who already love you
with the kind of love
perfectly impossible to quantify.

The light-heartedness you must
feel after the long journey, blinking
your brilliant eyes in the
sun of your first morning. As you
taste the air, touch your mother’s
skin, listen to your father and sister
coo over you, just think of 
all the summertime adventures 
ahead -

cousins to chase,
raspberries to pick,
trees to climb,
lakes to swim,
rocks to skip.

You bright summer star,
all the world beams
back at you.


Manifesting Lopez Island

We've all heard the stories: the struggling writer who wrote himself a check for $1 million as motivation and inspiration...and then a publisher gave him that exact amount as an advance on his book. Or the woman who made a collage of her dream home from magazine clippings...and shortly thereafter walked into that house with her realtor and bought it. I love these stories. In fact, it makes me want to sit down and make a vision board right now.

I do actually know some people who have manifested things on a grand scale. My friend Catherine had gone through a string of unsatisfactory boyfriends and so, on her sister's advice, had cleared a small drawer to give space for someone special to come along. She put in a few symbolic things, including a map of New Mexico, a place she had a desire to visit. Within a matter of weeks, a handsome man appeared on the scene who, it just so happened, had grown up in New Mexico. Now they are happily married with two beautiful children.

My friend Julie finished grad school and sat down to make a vision board of her dream job. She ended up getting two job offers, both of which she was able to accept due to the projects involved and together they covered everything she wanted. She is one of those rare people who really loves her job(s). Apparently this thing about telling the universe what you want really does work.

Perhaps I'm here on Lopez Island at this very moment because I voiced the longing to be here and, as they say, "gave it up to the universe." Last summer Christian and I visited this island for the first time and ended up camping for a few blissful days. At the end of that trip, I said to him, "What if we could come back here for a month next year, or even all summer? Wouldn't that be wonderful?" Fast forward a few months and in November we had a lovely family inquire about renting our house for six weeks over the summer.  I immediately found the Wren's Nest for us, a light-filled house on the south end of the island...and now here we are on "our" island. Christian can work anywhere, I can write anywhere and Xavier is happy anywhere. The fact that this gets to be the anywhere at the moment is really pretty fantastic.

Hmmm, now what else shall we manifest? Time to whisper it to the breeze or shout it out from the mountaintops.