I finally made it to the library. It’s only next door. I kicked myself for not visiting sooner. What kind of daughter of a librarian am I?
On Fridays, the Rensselaerville library is open from 4pm-9pm, so I headed over there after a day of revising and accidental napping (the third floor gets warm, provoking sleep). The air conditioning and the sweet smell of books hit me immediately, waking me up, and I beelined to the fiction shelves. I like to see different editions of Jane Austen’s books, and Rensselaerville didn’t disappoint. Their 1945 edition of Pride & Prejudice held beautiful illustrations of scenes and characters, and I wanted to photograph them all, but I know the librarian wouldn’t have been too pleased. Or maybe I’m just self-conscious. Here’s one blurry snapshot I took of the first dance where Darcy and Elizabeth meet.
A library tells you a lot about its community. In Saint Paul, the Rondo Community Library is bustling with students of all ages, whether they’re researching, getting homework assistance, or just hanging out with their brothers and sisters. A lot of adult learners are there, too, and the computers are mobbed. It has happy energy. Rensselaerville’s library, built in 1820, is quieter, at least when I visited, and it’s just as much a community hub. Local honey is for sale at the front desk. Patron names grace shelves–here are people who will always be invested in the library. They screen movies, and Molly tells me many people visit every morning just to read the paper. For lack of a better word, it’s charming.
The basement level is a workroom area, filled with books Molly donated along with old biographies, their spines faded, gold letters still brilliant. The lights were off, but sunshine brightened everything enough. I flipped through a cookbook Sarah had recommended, Ottolenghi’s Plenty. As I sat there, salivating over sweet potatoes and garlic tarts, I remembered our two weeks are almost up. Yes, I’m more than ready to be with my husband again. Yes, I miss the routine of home. There is something undeniably special (and privileged), though, about sharing time with people who are in the same boat as you, who are as deeply interested as you are in how food shapes and impacts our lives.
I closed the cookbook, vowing to treat myself to it when I return home. I’m not too great at that, treating myself. But, of course, what else has this program been but one giant treat? To have the instructors we did, to meet each other, to simply have time? Time is the greatest gift of all, and I am grateful for every moment we’ve had together, for every second we spent writing, for every minute we shared around the table. I’ve treated myself mightily.