Saturday, April 14, 2012
The Free Library.
We pass this little "shelter" in the car almost everyday, and every time that we do I crane my neck to see inside. At first I thought it was a fruit stand, it's connected to a small horse farm, so that makes sense, right?. There are at least five different fruit stands within 1 mile of our home. The building wasn't always painted like this, it used to just be a little white shelter; totally nondescript.
Sometime within the past week, it had been painted black with the words "Free Library; Take/Give A Book" and since the day I noticed it I could not stop thinking about it.
Yesterday, I had some spare time and it was really nice out, so I decided to walk down the road (for about 20 minutes each way) to check this place out.
Walking up to the property, there were six dogwoods. Each holding a plaque with the name of a family member and the dates of their death. I looked at each one and wondered what the person might have looked like, and whether or not the tree would have been an appropriate homage.
I finally wandered up the "free library" and tucked my self inside.
This is what it looked like. I felt kind of weird taking pictures in, it seemed so personal; eerily monumental among the memorial dogwoods. You could hear someone making horseshoes in one of the barns on the farm. I didn't really want to have a conversation with anyone; I sort of felt like I was trespassing, and after seeing all of the plaques I wouldn't have been able to look any remaining family members in the eye without tears.
The presence of the candles was striking. The had all been lit, except one blue one. I wasn't sure if someone had intended for them to find a new home or if they had been part of some sort of altar or ritual and I didn't want to shake things up. The "free library" had become and almost spiritual experience. I know I'm grasping at straws, but it's what I do best.
Eventually, I found my way to the handles of the cabinets below the makeshift altar and perused their wares. There wasn't much; a few Reader's Digest history books, a book of poetry, a bible and a stack of Martha Stewart Magazines (all essentials, really).
I took the poetry book and picked a random magazine, leaving behind two Chuck Palahniuk books ("Invisible Monsters + "Lullaby"), a book by Justin Taylor entitled "Everything here is the best thing ever", and "A Boy's Own Story" by Edmund White. I looked at them, my ephemeral footprint left at the free library on the side of the road, and closed the door.
I left a note for patrons that read, "Man loves company, even if it is only that of a small burning candle -Lichtenberg" and began the walk back to my own shelter full of candles.
Are there any quirky things in your own neighborhoods? Do ever explore your town on foot?