Long, long ago in a Galaxy far, far away, I lived in a small town in upstate New York. Thank goodness it was in the past, because if there was a bright center to the Universe, my home town was its farthest outpost.
Setting aside George Lucas, or whoever wrote that for him, I used to say my home town was founded in 1785 and lost in 1786, much like Brigadoon. I do have great fondness for several things about it, even if I haven't been back for a visit in 13 years.
First and foremost is the Ogden Free Library, a wonderful slate building which was only a very large block (it included the elementary school and all playgrounds and sports fields) from my house. It was my refuge from many things and I would use any excuse to spend time there. I do not remember the name of the very patient librarian who managed to order books from other places to satisfy my curiosity and who let me read Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire when I was in grade school (there were age limits on sections of the library.) It was there I first met authors I would actually come to know and photograph, like L. Sprague de Camp and Andre Norton. It was there I managed to find the basis for the "Frodo Lives" button I saw Micky Dolenz wearing in a 16 Magazine photograph, thus changing my life forever. The Lord of the Rings is still my favorite book to re-read, and the copy that my college boyfriend gave me for Christmas is in beautiful shape for all of the times it has been read (not so much the box for the set, which has suffered from so much packing and unpacking over the years when I moved a lot.)
That brings me to the second thing I've begun to realize I miss: sitting on the porch reading during summer rain. We don't get much in the way of rain in the summer here in Los Angeles. But in New York, it was as likely to rain as to not rain in the summer and spending such a day with special books like The Lord of the Rings was definitely a plus. Our house had a front porch, a back porch and an upstairs porch. The last was my favorite hang-out, away from the traffic of the back-door, which was the one we actually always used for entering and leaving the house.
I know I'm feeling depressed when I give any long-term thought to moving back to my home town, because I wouldn't do well being that isolated from my friends and the life we live out here. But I do think about all of those large Victorian homes for sale for a fraction of what our tiny slab house is worth out here or of the farms with many acres we could afford to buy and have a place for Ace and any other horse or dog we might want to take in. Then I think about winter, snow, closed roads and the flood pictures I've seen on the Internet and good sense returns.
Maybe I can build a porch on the side of my house or a gazebo in the back by the pool to curl up in when it rains. Or maybe I should stick to curling up on the couch in front of a fire in the winter with a good book.
P.S. All eclairs should taste like the ones from the home-town bakery of my childhood. They don't.
Lunch with the Barefoot Contessa
6 months ago