Last Thursday we had a rare mid-winter day that stank (in the best way imaginable) of spring. It was 21 degrees C. The sun was shining, there was a warm breeze. The wintery blooms were doing their air freshening thing.
Little Fearse cut two eye teeth last week and we were getting so little sleep it really wasn’t funny. There was lot of glaring at each other going on in our household, so we decided to go for a long walk and shake away some of the exhaustion that was setting in. We headed for the library, which we knew would be open this time.
We live in a town 15 minutes down hill from the farm where I grew up. I spent a lot of time here as a child. It has changed, but the essence of the village I knew is still there. Every now and again I can transport myself back to being a child walking these streets. In 25 years many of the shops have changed but a surprising number have remained the same. The newsagent is just as is was in the ’80s when I used to go in there to buy cardboard and supplies for school projects. The Chinese restaurant is the same one Mum and Dad took us to for special occasions, where the hostess referred to herself as Lily of the Very Deep Valley. The chicken shop is where my Papa picked up dinner every Wednesday night when he came to stay throughout my childhood. The shoe shop where Mum bought my t-bar sandals at the start of each school year hasn’t changed. Around the corner is the Health Food Store where my Mum took me on hot summer afternoons for soft serve in a cone. I have a lot of memories of simple times spent in these places.
The most special of them all is the local library. It has been open for 151 years (pretty extraordinary when you remember that Australia was only settled by Europeans 225 years ago). I don’t know how it has changed since it opened its doors in 1862, but I do know that it has barely changed one iota since I frequented the library in the 1980s. They still have a card catalogue in use.
Borrowers names are handwritten on small cards which are stored in alphabetical order in cardboard boxes under the counter. Each of these cards has a small pocket to contain the tags for borrowed books. Remember how library books, before the time of barcodes, had a pocket in the back page, holding a tab with the book’s name?
The borrowing dates in the books Little Fearse chose start in the late 80s. I could potentially have borrowed the very same books she is borrowing now. The librarians told me that they are going digital in the next year or so. They are all dreading it.
I left the library feeling that blissful sense of nostalgia. What a beautiful place to be able to visit again with my own child. Sometimes I feel when I spend time with Little Fearse that I am slipping back into my own gorgeous childhood. It gives me a huge amount of pleasure to be able to so easily feel simply happy again, as I did as a child. I never imagined that I would be able to do this as a parent. It is an unexpected and joyful side-effect of being a Mum.
Bring on spring!