Although British Dame Frances Trollope did not have much good to say about her travels in America in the nineteenth century, and her adventures might be a caution to anyone thinking about relocating to Cincinnati – she did praise one of my favorite places…
“…Maryland (1830) was delightful…Strawberries of the richest flavor sprung beneath our feet; and when these past away, every grove, every lane, every field looked like a cherry orchard, offering an inexhaustible profusion of fruit to all who would take the trouble to gather it…It was the flowers, and the flowering shrubs that, beyond all else, rendered this region the most beautiful I had ever seen. No description can give an idea of the variety, the profusion, the luxuriance of them…I have gathered a branch less than a foot long, and counted twelve full bunches of flowers on it…The dogwood is another of the splendid white blossoms…”
On the recommendation of a fellow reader, I ordered a few older books from the library. Easier to get than the best sellers, these arrived quickly. The front covers were not as dramatic as newer books, no comments by famous readers/writers graced the back covers, and the “due dates” were assigned to the back – one even had an old pocket for those cards that were slipped in as reminders in days when the card catalog was still in use.
Opening the pages, I noticed the font and wondered what it was called – not Times Roman or Arial; a small note on the opposite side of the title page named the typographer and dated the copyright in the sixties (not so long ago). But, the overwhelming sense of nostalgia came as I leafed through the pages and smelled the musty aroma. Nothing smells like an old book.
Just as I revel in being the first to check out a new book from the library, turning its crisp pages, feeling a responsibility to carefully not bend back the binding – holding an old book gives me a sense of wonder. How many others had taken this book to bed, sipped coffee while turning the pages, lost themselves in the words? Just as new books gives me a sense of adventure, the old ones give me a sense of comfort.