Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Bookish Fourth

by Stephanie McPherson

          My husband, Dick, and I were determined to enjoy Independence Day in high style with fireworks and fun in an historic location. Despite predictions of rain, we headed optimistically to Williamsburg. What’s a little bad weather when it comes to a patriotic extravaganza, right? We set out our blanket and plunked down on the grassy mall in front of the Governor’s Palace.

Long before sunset, the sky began to darken. “Do you think…” I began. – “They’ll shoot off the fireworks between showers,” promised Dick.

The first raindrops splattered us. “Did you feel that?”– “Feel what?” asked Dick.

Moments later I suggested we open the umbrella. – “Couldn’t hurt,” agreed my husband.

And it was about then that the sky really opened up. The rain came down in those proverbial bucketfuls. Thunder crashed, and sheets of lightning lit the sky eerily. Wind blew the rain sidewise under our umbrella. Our blanket was soaked. “Maybe it will stop soon,” I offered. My husband didn’t deign to reply.

The only thing that kept us in place was the prospect of getting even more drenched as we scrambled to get away. The rain had to stop sometime. Or so we thought. When the hoped-for lull didn’t come, we found ourselves sloshing down Duke of Gloucester Street back to the hotel. Soon we came to Barnes and Noble. “You want to buy books NOW,” gasped my husband as I dragged him toward the door.”

“Just want to dry off.”

It was hard to push our way inside because so many other people had had the same idea. They jammed the aisles and blocked the bookshelves. Some even camped out in the stacks. They took up all the seats in the cafĂ© and surrounded the visiting author. An easy camaraderie flowed between everyone, strangers sharing the same plight. We were all eager to salvage what pleasure we could from the Fourth. And that pleasure was books and each other’s company.

My husband disappeared into the music section while I squeezed my way into the children’s department. Parents sat on the floor reading to their children. Older kids foraged for books on their own. Maneuvering through the crowd, I greedily scanned the shelves. Hogsheads to Blockheads by Barry Varela, a lively and informative kids’ guide to Williamsburg especially caught my eye. Full of fascinating facts and humorous illustrations Bentley Boyd, I decided it was a great guide for grown-ups too.

Of course, I had to buy it – and maybe one or two other books as well. But who’s counting? And so our day ended on a delightfully bookish note.  My husband and I had braved the elements and found refuge with some soggy, but cheerful book-lovers-by-default. Along the way, I picked up a few ideas for stories. All in all, not such a bad Fourth of July!

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