I ran into an old friend yesterday:
There’s been a street festival running all weekend. And it’s a true neighbourhood street festival: the kind where Italian grandmas pull passerby into their dancing and magicians pull quarters from kids’ ears. The secondhand bookstore had its one-dollar boxes out – and there, staring at me, was Old Bear.
I stopped dead. The plot eluded me (as it turns out, the toys rescue Old Bear from his attic seclusion), but the characters popped up, vivid as they were in childhood.
Old Bear. Little Bear. Bramwell Brown. Rabbit. Duck.
I hesitated for the briefest moment – and then I bought it. You see, I have a belief about secondhand bookstores. They help the right books find you at the right time. You can’t always force it. And when they’re sending you a message, it’s best not to ignore it.
So now I’m reunited with a book I haven’t seen in at least twenty years. Partly, I just wanted it in my life again. And partly, I’m storing it for some future child – maybe my own, maybe a niece or nephew, maybe a friend’s child. “Look,” the instinct runs. “Look, this book held magic for me – maybe it will for you, too.”
Some magic is a private thing. Some magic yearns to be shared. Childhood books definitely belong in the latter camp, at least for me.
I got another book as well. This one wasn’t in the festival bins. It was inside, along the wall of fantastika. My heart leaped to see it. (This bookstore generally has a thorough collection of Andrée Norton, Robert Silverberg, A.E. van Vogt, and others of that vintage, but slightly less fantasy.)
Nineteenth century British fantasy:
Same message, same instinct. The right book at the right time, the perfect counterweight to my ongoing Southern Ontario Gothic ponderings.
Except it wasn’t a loonie. It was $25. Which – there’s a few upcoming books I want sooner than the library can get them. Trail of Lightning, European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, A Cathedral of Myth and Bone…
So I put it back on the shelf, looked at the Tolkien editions beside it, and then circled around again. But it’s best not to ignore a bookstore’s message. At last, I took a deep breath and approached the counter.
“Great stuff in here,” the bookseller said.
“Yeah, for sure. It’s got Goblin Market.”
“It’s twenty-five dollars…” He hesitated. “Actually, today, it’s eighteen.”
Some magic yearns to be shared. Stepping back into the sunlight and the festival, I felt lighter. Sometimes, it is important to remember that such magic exists. And our instinct to spread it gives hope indeed.
What I’m Listening To This Week
Still digging the Holst and Vaughan Williams. This week it’s been “I Love My Love,” which has a very catchy melody and chilling lyrics. It’s one of those folk songs that’s a story set to music. The treble echoes around 1:30 and 3:30 are particularly haunting.