February 24, 2012

In the mailbox

A February rain is much colder than snow, and twice as miserable. The hems of my jeans were soaked by late afternoon because I’ve just never learned how to avoid puddles. As I lugged a stack of student portfolios into my office — ah, yes, papers to grade — I noticed a parcel in my mailbox.

Yes, really a parcel! It was an unexpected gift from Charming Canadian Professor Who Reads a Lot. And who, I might add, lives almost 3,000 miles away from me.

Twitter messages are nice. So are text messages and email. And phone calls and skype. But it was just lovely to open a package. My friend bought the book, asked the author to sign it for me, took out pen and paper, and wrote a note to put in the book. The book traveled across the border that runs between our countries, over the Rocky Mountains, across the Midwest, into Snowstorm Region, and finally into my hands.

Despite the stack of papers just begging to be graded, I opened the book and began reading right away. There are some things I just can’t resist: a new book is one of them. He’d send me Charlotte Gills’ Eating Dirt, the memoir of a tree-planter. Have you ever seen those big tree plantations in the Pacific Northwest and wondered who plants all those trees? This book tells the story. I read the first three chapters, totally hooked, before I had the self-discipline to turn back to the stacks of papers I was supposed to be grading.

My friend's note included the instructions that I wasn’t to reciprocate, but instead send a surprise gift to someone else. “Keep the karma moving,” he told me when I thanked him on twitter. I love the idea of choosing a book and just mailing it to a friend out of the blue, with no reason other than reminding her that a shared love of reading can make even the most miserable February day feel like spring.


Ink said...

Love this post and love “Keep the karma moving"!

feMOMhist said...

too wonderful, your friendship circles are such an inspiration

undine said...

What a great idea to "keep the karma moving!"

Magpie said...

the book sounds fascinating - i downloaded the beginning and i think i need to put the real thing on my library list.

i love mailing things to people. ask yourfireant.

YourFireAnt said...

She does. wierd stuff.


Sarah Sometimes said...

I just sent a book to someone a couple of days ago! It felt very satisfying.

Anonymous said...

I just started following your blog and am very excited to find someone else reading 'Eating Dirt'.

(Also, your journal helps me find that happy place that has been hard to find lately.)

~Frustrated Writer

richard said...

I'm glad to have distracted you! And I hope it's able to move people toward giving each other gifts, because everyone deserves an unexpected present once in a while.

Eating Dirt is really a terrific book, but there are tons of terrific books, and so many of them get dedicated local readerships. What if we could broaden our local communities, using the mail to distribute books we love?

jo(e) said...

Richard: It's such a great idea. I did mail a book to a friend last week. It's fun to try to match books with people.