Afternoons and Coffeespoons

For after all, the best thing one can do
  When it is raining, is to let it rain.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Poet’s Tale; The Birds of Killingworth

We decided to make the most of the afternoon after our play date with other homeschoolers at a neighborhood park was rained out. We went to a restaurant in the Portuguese quarter of our town for tapas. The Portuguese never disappoint when it comes to food and hospitality. We had the customary Portuguese flambé of chorizo, octopus grilled on a ceramic plate, clams in a white wine and garlic sauce with crumbly bread to soak in the juices (which, frankly, was a religious experience), mushrooms stuffed with crab, and cod fish croquettes.

Octopus, clams, and cod fish croquettes.

After all of that, we went to an ice cream parlor next door for sweets and espresso. Both the Portuguese and the Cubans in this town have a ritual of drinking espresso in the afternoons, even in the middle of the summer when it is sweltering outside. I’ve learned that espresso is a gift for making it through the sleepy late afternoon hours. A large group was assembled in the ice cream parlor sipping their coffee and watching some Portuguese reality show on television. I couldn’t follow the plot, but it was obviously controversial.

What better a place to ride out a storm than a used bookstore? E picked up several volumes about Florida wildlife and tips for training puppies (poor Sherlock). R found a bunch of fantasy books that he said are fairly difficult to come by now. I bought a biography of Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson’s letters. (I have a large collection of journals and letters of historical figures, including politicians, poets, artists, composers…. It is one genre that I reliably love reading. They really make you look at people and events differently.)

The owner tallied up all of our purchases, which came to around $130. She was genuinely giddy over this amount, and told us that it was the largest purchase she had had in several months. This made me profoundly sad about the state of bookstores in our country. I know a lot of people would blame this on Amazon. Seeing all the things that are now even difficult to obtain on Amazon, however, I feel like people simply aren’t reading much anymore. Too many characters, too short an attention span. The chain bookstores are also failing miserably, and it’s difficult to make an effort to keep them in business either. All they want to sell are political tripe and longform tabloids.

I used to mock my mother when she would tell me not to part with my books, because the good ones always end up being impossible to re-purchase further on down the line. I couldn’t conceive of a future where one would not have access to good books. (The classics are classics for a reason, right? They are supposed to be durable.) Alas, her words now feel like wisdom.

It looks like the rain should end after tomorrow. I am not sure I can handle much more of a seven-year-old child with cabin fever.

Sigh. Back to work.

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