The Library Table

There are times in modern life when one needs to get away, far, far away, and there can be no distant oasis or lofty aerie more rejuvenating, no finer companions, than a good book, a mug of Lapsong Souchong tea and a Morris chair.

Books and written words exercise their own discrete charm and power. They possess in abundance admirable qualities sadly lacking in our day to day existence: qualities of rigor, cadence, elegance, form, simplicity, and from time to time, incandescent beauty. Within their pages are glorious adventures, journeys along winding paths toward towers in the mist or the dragon's lair, safaris to lost and exotic cities, camel caravans bound for Persian markets and faraway mountain villages.

When one opens a good book, one can hear the lapping of waves upon the shore, the rustle of the wind in the trees, the songs of larks at sunrise and the tolling of distant bells. While reading a good book, one can leave the world behind and take wing.

Efforts to achieve a measure of simplicity and bring order to life notwithstanding, my Mission oak library table is a repository for the paraphernalia of daily life, and it holds a lot of "stuff" other than books: spare reading glasses, keys, artist sketchbooks, fountain pens, drawing pencils and charcoal, cameras, lenses and filters, a cellular phone, scissors, bus fare and (in the rainy season) one large umbrella, usually green.

Shelves on either side of the library table are crammed full of reference materials to which we refer often, and the volumes take their time finding their way back to their appointed place. There are, of course, several books on the table itself, along with a pair of owl bookends, a scented candle, a Macondi figurine, a statue of the Buddha, a wicker basket for mail, one huge pine cone (which I simply like looking at) and a magnifying glass which conveniently disappears whenever I need it. There is no Mission style reading lamp on the library table at present because I haven't found the right one, but the search for the perfect reading lamp is serendipity, and the right lamp will turn up sooner or later.

There is no shortage of books here, and wherever one looks in the little blue house, there are bookcases: tall bookcases reaching toward the ceiling and overflowing with printed material, solitary book shelves tucked in strange places, precariously leaning stacks. Finding a particular book when one wants it can be traumatic and usually involves hours of going through all those bookcases, shelves and elusive stacks. Then, when the futile search has ended, one suddenly remembers that the missing book was borrowed some time ago, and has not yet been returned.....

If the gods are kind, and the Norns grace me with their favour, there will always be a library table here, and there will always be books on it - you can keep the big screen television screen and bring me books any time and every time. They will be my companions for as long as I am able to hold them, turn their velvety pages, peer at the lovely inky words and conjure up the thousand and one worlds just waiting for a traveler and eternal seeker to open the door and reveal the ten thousand things, rainbow colors, exotic fragrances, gentle music and ineluctable magic.

Every good book ever written is chock full of spells and cantrips. There are so many glorious words, and only a few lifetimes in which to befriend them.