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– A Sig Blessing

Last week Karen showed me her new favourite book, “The Inklings of Oxford” by Harry Lee Poe. She beamed at the find – this was a book that she bought NEW, and it was worth it.  One of our best memories of visiting Oxford last year was taking the J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S Lewis walking tour.  I wish I hadn’t been as jet lagged and could have retained more as we zig-zagged to the various sites in Oxford that the Inklings were known to have frequented.  Later in the week we made several visits to their pub, The Eagle and Child.

When Karen handed me the book she said told me to read the first paragraph.

Everyone needs a special place all their own, even if they do not own it. Everyone needs friends who are always  there, even of they are  not there with is. What makes a place special for a person does not  depend upon the place, but upon the person. What makes a person  special is not much the person, but the people who think they are  special: their friends.

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of our trip to Oxford.  Karen has promised to come out of hiding (she’s been quite preoccupied with admiring her new grandbaby) and share some of her memories.  Oxford was a special place for the Inklings and a host of others.

It was a trip of a lifetime for Karen and me. I am blessed by the memory of it.

The Eagle and Child - the Inklings' pub (until the beer ran out during the war)

A Sig Blessing

Karen and I have just had a quick two day visit, our first “face to face” since Sig and Karen’s Big Oxford Adventure of August 2009.  Our two days were spent traveling through various parts of Central Vancouver Island with our husbands and one of her sons concluding this evening in Vancouver. While the guys did things like gliding, Karen and I ate in a restaurant where goats looked down from above. (Karen has a special kinship with goats), spied out touristy-shops (we concluded that there is nothing new under the sun) found the same ginger beer that we’d enjoyed at The Eagle and Child (the pub frequented CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien et al in Oxford) and, best of all, discovered two used book stores.

Our families have good reason to be concerned when Karen and I discover a used book store. We may not always buy, but we have to look.  What we don’t spend in money we do spend in time, crouching in the aisle, spying out interesting titles or specific out of print editions.  We try to look at our watches occasionally, especially since the time several years ago when I missed a flight home because Karen and I had one more bookstore to explore on the way to the airport.

Why are we drawn into used bookstores?

  1. Used bookstores have owners who love books and are usually knowledgeable about the author, title or genre we’re after.  In the very least, they know the lay of the land and will guide us down and around shelving to exactly the right spot without having to refer to a computer.
  2. There’s a certain casual approach to housekeeping that appeals to us.  Perhaps books could be dusted and organized but why would one bother when there’s a perfectly good book that needs to be read behind the counter in the company of a sleepy cat?
  3. Used books have two stories – the one written on the pages and the one on how it came to be in that bookstore.  We have have twice the opportunity to use our imaginations!
  4. Used books tend to be a fraction of the cost and so we can buy more if we find the right titles.

On this particular trip I found three books to add to my bookshelf.  “Early Will I Seek You” is a 40 day journey in the company of Augustine by David Hazard.  I don’t know much about Augustine, but I probably will know more in about 45 days.   Stay tuned.

“A Girl in Winter” by Philip Larkin will be part of my beach reading later this summer.  My third book was something Karen found and convinced me it was necessary.  “Away Went Wolfgang” is a 1954 children’s book about a dog with the same name as the one our children grew up with and still miss. Karen thought this little book might be something I put in a Grandma’s Hope Chest should I ever join her in the ranks of grandparenthood.  Apparently every good grandmother needs good books.

I know Karen purchased a couple of books on this trip but I can’t recall what they were. I do know that she is hot pursuit of CS Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain” and FB Meyer’s “The Present Tenses of the Blessed Life”; neither of which were found on this excursion.  I’m sure I could find them both in an on-line used book bin, but then we’d have to think of new challenges for our used bookstore safaris.  And what would be the fun in that?

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July 2020