The move from Abington, Massachusetts to Lee, New Hampshire has been better than feared, but perhaps ultimately worse for the simple demonstration of fact that I haven’t the energy, muscle mass, or psychological stamina I once had. There has been an attrition, beginning with moving the old store and that massive accumulation of 30 years from 339 Newbury Street, back in 2003, and then the fire in the business below us at 353 Newbury that ruined the hopes of our new location shortly after, the subsequent move of what was salvaged to warehousing and our apartment in Brookline, and then the later move to Abington in 2006, all of which took more out of me than I wanted to admit. Confessing it here is not by way of an excuse, but a recognition of facts as they are. I am still learning to deal with it. Perhaps too slowly.
Nevertheless, we are here, after all. The books are in a big red barn–a 30 by 40 foot space that is sufficient to our diminished size. Our mail-order business is running again. The hope is that after adequate shelving is built, and certain improvements made, we might open the door to the public sometime this fall. This is big news, for me at least. I had given up all hope of ever having another bookshop after the fire. (That disaster is still too difficult for me to relate coherently. I’ve tried numerous times and found my words wandering off to dark corners. Perhaps, someday it will be fodder for a story.)
But I should note that all this new development was not my doing. It is completely due to the generosity of my daughter, Elisabeth, and her husband, Cord, who bought the house that Thais and I now live in. We are the official ‘In-laws.’ My grandfather was fond of calling the children ‘outlaws,’ and I accept a little more of that today for the fact that I feel like a bandit for all my newfound fortune. I look out on misty grass and a darkling wood each morning. A gangling doe wanders into the yard to browse at dawn. A young fox, barking of his plight, has fallen and thankfully been rescued from an old water cistern below the barn. I am mowing the lawn again as I once did more than fifty years ago. I take walks down country roads where great black, long-horned Dexter cattle stare at me, and the smells are pungent, fields of hay pattern in the breezes and hickory trees, heavy with hard green fruit, wrestle the wind. From a low bridge there I can look down into the shallows of the Lamprey River where dark trout wander among the rocks, and when I have made the time, I want to follow in the steps of Mr. Walton and finally learn to properly fly-fish.
We still have much work to do, and debts to pay but there is a positive sense to things that I have not felt in many years. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, so the saying goes. I’m not sure of that, but whatever the physical toll of recent years, there have been some positive accomplishments. Importantly, to me, if not the literary world, there are several novels completed, and in the next month I hope to publish another one of those, The knight’s tale, a story of the future, at CreateSpace. And at present, after all the disruption, I’m trying to get back into a writing routine once more. I still have half a dozen planned and partly written books to finish, including the current effort, A Republic of Books, and who knows what else I might concoct along the way.
But this is the way we live now. Not so bad.