Talking with folks, I get to hear about the many things that they are excited about experiencing once the pandemic is over. For many, it’s being able to hug family members once again. For others, it’s the simple things, like eating a meal out, or going to a ballgame, or even attending a performance at the theater. For many of our patrons, it’s being able to walk among the stacks again, to be able to browse the collections or just relax in the library with a good book in hand. As a children’s librarian, I look forward to being able to hold a storytime, or show a movie, or play games and not have to worry about much of anything other than enjoying the laughter of children once again.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine the other day and I asked her what she was looking forward to doing again and she said travel. She is very accomplished in her work, owns a business and so for her to get away and see the world requires a bit of doing, but she loves to do it and looks towards seeing all the things she hasn’t seen before. I thought that to be a grand thing to look forward to. I like to travel, too. I saw a bit of the world during my service years, have lived around the West and the Pacific Northwest, and if she were to ask me what I’d like to see if I went off into the world, I think I would be happy to say I would like to see more of Oregon. We have so much to offer here, from deserts to mountains, from big cities to the sea. There is much to love about this state and I think I could spend the rest of my years just exploring this place. From border to border, there is much to do. Really, Oregon has something for everybody. But in the meantime, I think that just exploring our own little towns here in the Rogue Valley might just be plenty enough for me.

Back when I was in high school, we had to take geometry. I was not a good math student, so anything to do with that science left me befuddled. There was one tool, though, that I got to like and learned to use and that was the compass. A compass has two arms joined together that spread out. At the end of the arms are tips: one very sharp and pointy, the other one grasping a pencil. We used them to make arcs and circles and figure out problems. What I discovered, later on, was that it was an excellent tool to use to navigate with. Another old-school tool that I love to use are maps. Combine a map and a compass and together you can really go places.

When I think of maps, I wish that more young people could cozy up to them. They are fun and easy to use. Sometimes the hardest thing about using them is learning to fold them up correctly. You can get maps that show you just about any place on the planet and, if you use them correctly, they can take you just about anywhere. If you need one to get around, you can always go to a local chamber of commerce or realtor and ask them for a map of the local area. If you do get one, look to see if it shows the street that you live on.

After that, you can always go to a store that carries school supplies and pick up an inexpensive geometry compass. You can then take that compass and spread it out a bit, anchor down the pointy part on the map where you live, and then draw a circle around that area. If you don’t have a compass, you can always take two pencils and a short length of string. Tie one end of the string to one pencil and the other end of the string to the other pencil. Place one pencil tip on the spot where you live. Take the other pencil and, with the string stretched out tight, make a circle on the map!

What I recommend, for those of you who wish to travel but cannot go far right now, is to explore the area inside that circle you drew on the map. Look for things that you are familiar with or are good to know about. See if there is a post office, a market, a park, a school, or a library inside the area of that circle. Go out and about and explore that area with a walking chart, like the ones we pulled together for our latest Medford Take & Make kit. Mark down how long you walked, the kinds of birds you saw, the types of cars that are parked around your neighborhood, the variety of flowers or trees or wildlife that are around where you live. Find out what makes where you live interesting, fun, and exciting.

Travel, like going to see family, is all relative. Get to know your own backyard first before you go off into the world. It will make you appreciate home that much more and help to make you a better traveler. And don’t forget your maps, but most of all, your compass!

Get Up and Go Bingo! 

Spring is here! It’s time to get out and explore beautiful Jackson County. JCLS has created a Bingo-style card in which each square is a different outdoor activity. Take a walk out your front door, tour a public garden, visit a new or a favorite trail, and get points for each outing. You can use the interactive map to help you find your way. When you get five in a row you can redeem your bingo card for a cool, custom sticker.