I have been in love with my little town ever since we moved here. In our search for a home in a new state, we found it completely by accident. As we drove the tree-lined streets that day in October, leaves blanketed the lawns, kids were out playing and neighbors were raking. I knew we had found our home.
All these years later it has never lost its charm.
Our city council (after a lawsuit brought by a resident) voted by a 6-5 margin to allow the open carry of firearms. The person who brought the suit, and who will now drop it, said it was a victory for gun owners. I wonder.......is the victory sweeter when you get to fire it? One can now strap a gun around their waist when they walk out the door including on our city sidewalks and parks.
Parks like the one I took my kids to for years a few blocks away. The one that pulses with life from sun up to sun down with walkers, runners, moms with toddlers, Little League practice, soccer practice, lacrosse practice, kite flying, kids biking on training wheels and dog walkers. The park that has hosted birthday parties, graduation parties and the annual touch football game every Thanksgiving.
In the hundreds of times I was at that park, it never seemed to me that anybody needed to be defended. The only thing that could be considered a weapon is a baseball bat and most of those are bigger than the kids trying to swing them.
A couple of miles south of here a family made national news when the Little Free Library they put up at the edge of their property had to be removed due to an ordinance preventing free standing structures. Remove it or face a citation the letter from the city said. The criticism against the city has been fast and furious and they may still be wiping egg off their faces, but so far they haven't relented.
I have seen many Little Free Libraries around this area, and like the town I fell in love with all those years ago, I am charmed. Over the moon charmed that on a walk around the neighborhood you can help yourself to a book because of the generosity of others.
I remember reading Diary of Anne Frank years ago and feeling my heart pound as the Nazis combed the neighborhood looking for Jews. In House of Sand and Fog when Behrani's son is killed by police I felt sick to my stomach. The story of Atticus Finch defending Tom Robinson from a rape charge and racial injustice in To Kill A Mockingbird is as relevant today as it was when it was published in 1960. In The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls writes of the home she grew up in that teetered on the edge of a mountain and I felt that if I breathed too deeply that house might tumble down. I couldn't get warm the whole time I read Into Thin Air. I caught myself gasping for air when I read The Perfect Storm. Lit, The Tender Bar, Change Me Into Zeus's Daughter, Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight, Half Broke Horses, A Walk In The Woods, All Over But the Shoutin', The Cliff Walk and Running With Scissors are memoirs that will stay with me for a lifetime.
Every day we are warned that fear is right outside our door. Bad people doing bad things are "out there" and the only logical answer to that these days is accessorizing with a gun so you're at the ready with a trigger and a bullet.
I believe that the minute you step outside and open the door to a library you are transported to a place of tragedy, despair, humor, joy, and adventure. Like all those characters from books that take up space in my heart there are the stories of each and every one of us within those pages.
There is never enough time to read all the books in my stack next to the bed but it never discourages me from adding more. The summer when I was nine years old and still struggling with reading, my mom enrolled me in the library's reading program and I checked out Little House on The Prairie.
Nearly fifty years later, I now live in a town named after a prairie and I have never forgotten my beloved Laura Ingalls and the year I finally learned how to read.
This is what we owe our communities. This is what we give our kids. This is the door that opens us up to the magic.