I'm a creature of habit, no different from the rest of us. And so when news of autumn's eminent arrival blow in on the gusts of wind, airborne messengers carrying the scent of some faraway land across a distant sea, something in me stirs in remembrance.
And I begin reading children's books with a hunger.
Oh, I love children's books all year long. If you could only see, an entire shelf and a half of my one, very pregnant bookcase is reserved solely for the likes of the Berenstain Bears, Dr. Seuss, Little Golden Books, Skippy John Jones, Spanish children's books, Winne the Pooh, and further down, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter and Hank the Cowdog.
And yet, autumn and children's books, for some reason, are a pair for me, like peanut butter and chocolate, and my internal calendar of seasons attests to this. They are as soothing as a cup of coffee and warm pumpkin bread on a rainy October afternoon; delectable as a thunderstorm with the windows open on a summer night; nostalgic as flipping through an album of family memories and smelling the stale pages as they turn.
I think I first felt the need to justify my hobby of collecting children's books as a prepping for kids of our own. "Oh, yeah, this one's for our kids - one day."And then over time, it morphed into, "If we ever have kids, they've got to have this book."
But now, I just call it what it is. These books are for my heart, because for whatever reasons carried in on the season's wind, they are medicine to me. Particularly in seasons of brokenness and healing. They are a reminder to me of days when life was still young enough to be full of promising blank pages and dreams consisted of living " in a big treehouse down a sunny dirt road deep in Bear Country."
Last night I came home and placed our little tortoise, Pepita, in her thrice weekly bath (a pink tub with warm water), got down on my elbows and watched her as she stuck her little scaly arms up on the sides and her legs spread out behind her, the sound of her nails scraping against the bottom. After a few minutes, I let her out to roam the apartment, like a curious toddler waddling and crawling into places she has no business going. And then, wrapping her in a big old towel, I sat with her on my lap and read to her from a collection of Winnie the Pooh tales.
Well, read is perhaps a strong word. I corralled her on my lap and tried unsuccessfully to hold the large book open at the same time, reading a few sentences in between. I really can't say if she appreciated this tender moment or not, but I'll go with the latter. Ricardo walked in on us, shook his head and didn't even try to suppress a snicker, though he hardly seemed surprised by this spectacle. He's lived with me long enough to know that this is normal behavior.
And you know, the truth is I'm not practicing for motherhood. God only knows if I'll ever be one, and I'm ok with that. I simply love animals and children's tales, and wonder if even Pepita might benefit from the medicine of a good story read aloud at bedtime.
Stranger things have happened.
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