Little Free Library First Donation
I was giddy when I left a whisper this month in beautiful Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
An autographed copy of my book, Listen for the Whispers: Coping with Grief and Learning to Live Again is on the third shelf in the Little Free Library on 316 Miller Street in Strasburg, Pennsylvania.
The promotion of literacy and the love of reading through free book exchanges is an innovative idea. It was started in 2009 in Wisconsin by a man who wanted to pay tribute to his mother, a former school teacher and avid reader. He built a wooden model of a one room school house with a sign that said FREE BOOKS. The concept, ‘Take a Book. Return a Book’ caught on and the goal to build 2,510 Little Free Libraries was quickly reached in August of 2012. Today, the nationally recognized movement has been so successful, that in January of 2015, the registered total numbers of Little Free Libraries was estimated to be nearly 25,000 worldwide. And growing.
I was hoping for a warm spring day to take this drive. But so far, my favorite season had not exactly cooperated. Therefore, I took the first sunny day that came along. It was cool and the buds on the trees shivered and refused to open. Daffodils hid and a few brave crocuses flashed their purple blossoms. I grabbed a jacket and a scarf and a copy of my book and exited with my Map Quest printed directions. I plugged in my GPS for back-up.
I am a country girl at heart. I grew up in a rural setting in upstate New York. The view of open fields brings me peace. The odor of freshly tilled earth and manure inspires me to take a walk. And the outline of cows and horses grazing in pastures provides a reason to stop and stare.
It was Wednesday. Rows of serious black trousers and simple dresses, punctuated by a few colorful quilts and table clothes, waved at me as I drove through the farmland. The Amish routinely divide their chores throughout the work week. It was wash day. The stiff breeze easily dried the damp laundry.
I know to follow the speed limit on the back roads. The blind hills can easily give way to the sudden appearance of a buggy, an open carriage or a line of Amish children pedaling their bikes or powering their metal scooters with one leg. I came upon two buggies that morning. Happily I waited my turn as we shared the asphalt. The familiar silhouette of wide brimmed straw hats inside the black buggy confirmed that it was springtime.
“You have arrived”.
The female voice of my GPS announced my destination. There was little traffic on the streets of Strasburg as I drove south. This picturesque small town provided the backdrop for a scene in the 1985 movie “Witness”. Harrison Ford’s character John Book, a Philadelphia police detective investigating a murder, followed a young witness to an Amish community where Ford immersed himself in the Amish culture and tradition. The filming took place right there in the town of Strasburg.
After creeping along for a few blocks past the center of town, I saw the rectangular wooden box on the front lawn of a lovely home. I pulled the car over next to the sidewalk and read the official plaque tacked to the top of the book container. It displayed the registration number along with an official label that announced Little Free Library
I drove into the driveway and got out of the car with my donation. I did not want to disturb the steward, herself a retired elementary school teacher, so I walked past the front door and I carefully pulled on the round knob of the box. Children’s books, cookbooks, mysteries and the popular best selling book The Help all waited for a chance to be read and shared. I slid my book on the third shelf at eye level. I left the cover facing outward as if to say, “Hello friends, I am new here. May I join you?” Then I closed the door. The heavy latch secured the contents. My book would have a chance to settle in with the other residents and hopefully catch a future visitor’s attention.
I felt satisfied when I got back in the car for my trip home. As a former teacher, I liked the idea of leaving behind a slice of knowledge. As a baby boomer, I was pleased to leave it in a traditional form.
A whisper brought me to Lancaster in 1977. I became a best friend, a wife and a mother. The whisper I left behind that morning was a collection of the difficult lessons I learned in the harsh winter of 1993 when I became a widow.
When I got back in the car, I rolled down the windows. As I picked up speed, the fresh, cool air blew in and fanned my smile. The lines of laundry took a final bow. Cows and horses flashed in my rear view mirror.
Springtime was a perfect season to share my message of hope. Winter was over.The sunshine guided me home through my beloved Lancaster County. My whisper was in good company.
If you know of another Free Little Library that is in need of a whisper, please let me know. I would be happy to take a road trip and share.