It was a beautiful spring day. The birds were singing, the sun was shining. It was the kind of day where an old man’s thoughts of fancy turned to… housekeeping? Why in the world would someone want to knock out housework when all the beauty that the Rogue Valley has to offer was right outside the front door? The response to that was sort of like the one that George Mallory was said to utter when folks asked him why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest: “because it’s there.”
The work that presented itself to me that day was not as intimidating as the thought of climbing the world’s tallest mountain, nor were the stacks of things to move or unload as high as that storied mountain, either. But with window blinds up and the strong light of a pleasant spring morning splashing about the place, I could clearly see that winter had long passed and that the work at hand was most certainly overdue. So, a good case of spring cleaning it was, from top to bottom, from one end of the wee abode to the other. In the end, boxes and bags of books were donated, amassed cardboard items for “crafts” were recycled, clothes and movies were passed along, and space, sweet valuable space, was once again reclaimed. It was a monumental effort and yet it was possibly about as fine of a time as a man could have for free.
One of the things that helped to make my wee space even more cozy than it should have been is my penchant, my passion, for collecting books. It is an easy and pleasant pastime to spend a day on the couch with a book in hand, especially when it is a cool winter day outside. Add up all those cloistered winter days, especially this past year in the time of COVID, and it added up to a lot of books read! When I looked around, I had to wonder how those piles of books got to be so large. It was truly such a mysterious bit of accumulation! Those books, fiction and non-fiction alike, seemed to stealthily make their way into my home, one or three at a time, and over time, formed cairns everywhere. But did those books magically transport themselves into my house? Not at all. They had a willing accomplice: me! And books, like water, always manage to find their way in.
It is easy to amass a book collection. For instance, I love to take strolls around my neighborhood because, in my quaint little town of Talent, we have three or four or more freestanding “free libraries” that help to feed my collection. Those finds are always dear because the books stashed in those little boxes always seem to be a bit more careworn, homey, and inviting than books that I tend to find elsewhere. Their beat look always gives off the lost dog vibe, demanding that I take a look, that I consider taking one or more home with me. I like the connection to the community as well, as those books give off a feeling that they were just read a moment ago, or, at the very least, recently taken off bookshelves or pulled from under chairs or beds that were close at hand to the previous owner.
I love browsing bookstores, too: large and small, big box and independent. It is a wonderful thing to browse the local Barnes and Noble and read the day away, in the same sort of way that you can spend an afternoon at your local public library. I also enjoy spending a morning out and about in Ashland, strolling among the small bookstore wonders like Bloomsbury Books, or Tree House Books or The Book Exchange, knowing that some of the fresh and wonderful books that I find on their shelves that day just might find their way home with me. Thrift stores, too, always manage to please, even if the stock is not quite as consistent or top notch. It takes a bit more hunting, but the joys of finding lost treasures there are always a treat.
My book collection really came to life this past year through my association with the Medford Friends of the Library and their very sweet and robustly stocked book shop at the Medford Library. My friendship with the Friends really helped to make my current collection of books and media expand in more ways than one. I love to browse their shelves, to see what fresh, new treats have come in through the week. I truly enjoy being a member of the Friends, for I feel that my membership fee, reasonable at five dollars a year, comes back to me in a big, beautiful way. I like how my annual membership allows me to get books, movies, and CDs at a reasonable cost, and how my money goes right back into the library in the form of programming assistance and material goods.
I think of the importance of housekeeping and the roles that we all play in helping to keep our spaces neat and clean. Give your clean and lightly loved goods to the organization of your choice, but when you have an option to donate books, videos, or CDs, think about passing them along to your local Friends of the Library group. It is a win-win when we can support non-profit organizations that help benefit libraries and the patrons that we serve. So, when you decide to jump in and do your bit of spring cleaning, please be sure to donate those spare books and offhand media that you are finished with. The Friends are always pleased to get them! Check with your local Friends groups to see what their limit is. Giving is a good thing for everyone!