Books: they’re my favorite portable past-time. They’re light to transport (unless you’re like me and lugged the last installment of Game of Thrones all over public transit) and are easy to access and put away at a moment’s notice. If you have an e-reader, you even have the advantage of having hundreds of titles at your fingertips within a moment’s notice, as my Internet friends have so lovingly pointed out. (Read about why I’m still not entirely convinced here.)
People who are true readers read everywhere- it’s so much to live in a big city and see how many conversations you strike up with strangers about the books they’re carrying. From bars to cafés, from buses to subways-I have met the friendliest readers bopping around the streets of Toronto.
In the summertime especially it’s fun to see so many of the readers finally come out of hiding, like they’re following the beckoning of the sun. The neighborhood in which I live is very pedestrian-friendly and filled with parks and hidden green spaces where I catch people on the strangest variety of perches, their noses buried in their books. There’s even a waterfront with a man-made beach where you’ll often find me in the summer, lost in some tomb and working on my sunburn.
This season in particular reminds me of one of my favorite places to read as a child, in the crook of a Manitoba maple tree that sprawled wildly over the fence of my back garden. The tree itself was in the parking space behind the garden; going through the gate and ascending into its greenery felt like entering into another world. If I was feeling ambitious I’d bring provisions along in a knapsack and sit up in the tree for hours, every so often peering up from my book to look at way the sunlight danced through the leaves.
My parents told me that the Manitoba maple is a pesky tree- its seeds propagate and travel on the wind until they happen to land on a place where they may hopefully root themselves and grow into a real plant. In essence, the Manitoba maple starts its life as a weed, and it amazed me to think that such an inconsequential little seed had grown into such a magnificent tree. When I was up there it made me think that if one little weed had such enormous potential then maybe I could too; I was still growing, and didn’t know what I could become. Books were my windows into all of those possibilities. I could go anywhere in time, do anything I wanted. There was power in that tree.
I still think of that tree often, and still count it as one of my favorite places to read. Although I’m sure you’ll catch me with my face full of book at one time or another while behind my desk at work, or on the bench outside my favorite coffee shop, please know this: in my mind, I won’t really be there. Instead I’ll be miles away in some far-off land, or solving a mystery in another era, or just remembering the sound of my mother’s voice calling me for dinner as I crawled with cramped legs down from my tree perch. Books just do that for me.
And, my dear readers, I hope they do that for you too.
Books, books, books. Books all the time. I just love reading, and if you’re reading this blog, maybe you love reading too. F.Y.I., sometimes I review books here, I share my what’s on my bookshelf here, and I get all philosophical about reading sometimes here. If that’s not enough books for you, I list all of the million, gazillion books I want to read over on my Goodreads profile here. I’d love if we could make that list a zillion, trillion.
P.S. I am no tree expert, but what I say about the Manitoba maple is truth. If you’re a tree nerd, click here to get the real deal.
Manitoba maple image courtesy of Herman, D.E. et al. 1996. North Dakota tree handbook. USDA NRCS ND State Soil Conservation Committee; NDSU Extension and Western Area Power Admin., Bismarck, ND. – USDA, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1008755.