Walking home from school as a little girl in Nelson, I would stop at the library, or the little shop that sold magazines, toys, cards, and things. There were other bookshops, but too far out of the way to get home somewhat on time.
I looked up the Nelson library, but things have changed and they’ve moved and recommissioned the little old building for other things.
Walking through the big double doors, there were shelves to the left and to the right. The check-out desk is directly ahead. It was a perfect rectangle. It was all made of dark wood. The wood glowed from all the years of being touched. The books wrapped around windows which let in enough light to read.
I turned immediately to the right where I sat on the floor and began taking out books to read. Cartoon books to start, Johnny Quest, and books like “The Red Balloon” where a boy chased by bullies in Paris is befriended by a balloon that follows him, eventually, he is lifted above Paris by a big bunch of balloons. I was chased and beaten up often because I was the “dirty refugee” in town, but I fought back. I loved the balloon solution, better than avoiding confrontation and hiding in libraries and shops.
I loved the smell in there, like honey, wax, wood, paper, and dust. I loved my little dark nook on the floor surrounded by the quietude of books and the sunlight streaming through the windows to help me read.
I would lose myself there, especially when I moved over to mythology and ancient history.
The librarian must have timed me, because every single time, she would come over to me and tell me “it’s time to go home, dear”. But blessedly, not until I had had a really, really fine read.