Weekend Coffee Share 6/10/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be meeting at my local coffee shop once again.  Because summer is finally here, I’d be sipping an iced vanilla latte on the back deck, basking in the morning sun.  What would you be having?

It is so good to be back with you all again!  I just returned from a vacation out west and, while hiking in the mountains was a great adventure, I missed these weekly chats.  What have you all been up to?

It’s crazy that summer is finally here!  Spring is slow to come here in Minnesota, but summer appears in the blink of an eye.  One day, you’re wearing light sweaters complaining about too much rain and, the next, it’s eighty degrees.

With the sunny weather and kids being out of school, the library is busy this time of year.  Our annual Summer Reading Program is up and running.  We had a kids musician come for our opening program this week, which was really fun.  Next week, I’m launching Lego Club, summer preschool story time, and having the local princess candidates in to read to the kids.  I’ve been in post-vacation catch-up mode all week, running around like a crazy person, but it’s good to be back. Continue reading

Southern Spring & Dear Friends

There is something about a road trip that gets my heart racing.  When I’m having a bad day, thinking about an open highway is the perfect escape.  Growing up, my parents loaded my brothers and I in our minivan and drove us around the country–from Maine to Alabama to national parks out west.

It’s been about a year since I’ve properly traveled.  Last April, I did a month-long trek across Europe on my own.  Upon returning, my bank account was dangerously empty and I’ve been focusing on my librarian career ever since.

Still, it was high time for a road trip.

This past weekend, I took a few days off and made the trek with a friend from Minnesota to Nashville, Tennessee.  Round-trip, we drove 1,500 miles and spent about 24 hours in the car.  Our only mishap was a speeding ticket in Iowa.

The further south we went, the world came alive.  It was as if we pressed fast-forward on Spring.  Grass and flowers emerged, the temperature dropped, and leaves sprouted from trees.  By the time we arrived in Nashville, we had stripped down to t-shirts and shorts for a few days of summery warmth. Continue reading

Literary Pilgrimage: Outlander & the Highlands of Scotland

My mom and I have been watching the second season of Outlander lately and Scotland has been on my mind.  I am fortunate enough to have ventured to this beautiful country twice and fell more in love with every visit.

My first visit to Scotland was in November, 2013.  I spent a long weekend with my study abroad group in Edinburgh and we did a day trip to the Highlands.  My second visit was in April 2016.  This time, I was alone.  I did a three-day bus tour of the Highlands and Isle of Skye, followed by a few days revisiting Edinburgh.

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The Quiraing on the Isle of Skye.  It was a clear day, so you can see the mountains of mainland Scotland in the distance.

Now… Outlander.  Diana Gabaldon’s books aren’t exactly high-brow literature, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good.  I came to the series a few years ago–about a year after my first visit to Scotland.  The television show was just about to premiere and an extended relative recommended the books to my mom, who then passed the word to me.  Intrigued by the premise–a World War II combat nurse goes back in time 200 years–I ordered secondhand copies of the entire series from Amazon. Continue reading

Literary Pilgrimage: Jane Austen House, Chawton, UK

Jane Austen has a bit of a cult following.  While I may not be as rabid as popular culture depicts some of her fans (see 2013 film, Austenland, for an example), she’s one of my favorite writers.

My relationship with Austen’s work began when I was thirteen.  Having skipped after school basketball practice to go see the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in theaters with my mom, I loved the story so much I went straight to the school library the next day to check out the book.  I loved the book so much that I read it three times in a row.

My fondness for Austen has only grown over the years.  I had read all six of her novels by the time I graduated high school and have revisited all of them since.  I had the pleasure of getting to study Sense and Sensibility in college.  As I’ve aged, I’ve come to understand her characters on a deeper level.  When I was younger, I identified with the playful and witty Elizabeth Bennett.  These days, I connect most with the sensible Elinor Dashwood and have developed a soft spot for Anne Elliot.

In 2016, I had the privilege of spending three months living in the English countryside.  When I arrived, I learned that my new residence was only a fifteen minute car ride from Chawton, the village where Austen lived from 1809-1817.  Naturally, I had to go.

My visit to the Jane Austen House Museum took place on a Sunday afternoon.  I went with a few friends, whose love of Austen ranged from casual movie-watcher to rabid book snob.  We were a diverse group, hailing from the United States, Canada, and South Africa.  Isn’t it wonderful that people from all over the world can come together through a love of literature? Continue reading

Literary Pilgrimages

I am a pilgrim, a wayfarer, an adventurer.  I am a sojourner, making my way through lands real and imagined.  I travel by multiple mediums.  My feet carry me across continents familiar and strange.  My imagination soars through the minds and hearts of people who have gone before, ferried by the pages of a book.

 

I am a reader.  I am an explorer.  Sometimes, the two combine and I become a pilgrim.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines a pilgrim as “one who journeys in foreign lands”.  Traditionally, pilgrims journey towards a sacred, often religious place.  One of the most famous pilgrimages in literature is Chaucer’s band of characters telling tales on the road to the cathedral in Canterbury.

I am a lover of pilgrimages.  My journeys, however, are literary in nature.  In them, I travel to a place that holds bookish significance–the house or grave of a writer, the location of a beloved text, the place that inspired a famous text. Continue reading

2016: A Story in Three Parts

As another year comes to a close, it’s time to reflect.

By global standards, 2016 was pretty much a train wreck.  Personally, though, it was a beautiful journey that I will tell in three parts.

INTRODUCTION:

A year ago, I was an unemployed college graduate with no idea of what I wanted to do with myself.  You see, for the majority of my life, my intuition has been my guide.  Until this point, early every major life decision has been guided by instinct.  College?  My gut lead me to the right fit.  Major?  My heart found home in the English Department.  Work at camp in the summers?  It just felt right.

The future, however, holds infinite possibilities and the prospective paths had me absolutely paralyzed.  I had absolutely no idea of anything.  My intuition, the little tug that pulls me in the next direction, had failed.

So, at the beginning of 2016, I felt my heart tugging me back to Europe and, against all logic, I followed. Continue reading

A City that Demands to be Seen: Thoughts on Vienna

When one travels for an extended period of time, certain aspects of foreign life cease to leave you in wonder.  Cobbled streets, castles, and cathedrals blend together.  It’s just another city, just another place to walk, just another destination.  Your feet become weary and your heart longs for home.

And then… out of nowhere, a city sneaks up on you and gives you a sucker punch to the gut.  You’re absolutely breathless and it’s a little painful because it came when you didn’t expect it.

For me, Vienna was just a place on the map–a grand capital to check off my list, a place to become a little more cultured.  I didn’t expect the city to move me.  I didn’t expect to fall in love. Continue reading

Day Trip to the Northwoods

This past weekend, my family took a day trip to Northern Minnesota.  It was the first time we’d been together in six months and wanted to celebrate.  We gathered our belongings, grabbed coffee at the local shop, and drove two hours to the port city of Duluth.  After a brief picnic lunch on some boulders at a little park along the shore of Lake Superior, we continued along the North Shore–enjoying views of the lake through the pine forest.

Our mission?  Hiking.  We did a 6 mile loop on the Superior Hiking Trail along the Split Rock River.  The trail was muddy and nearly impassible at points.  After attempting to skirt around the edges, I gave up and slopped through the mud.  It reminded me of the footpaths in England and wished I had a pair of trusty Wellies.  By the end of the day, my legs were crusted in a layer of slime. Continue reading

European April: A Video Memoir

Traveling alone is, in many ways, a liberating adventure… but like anything, it’s got it’s challenges.  Being able to come and go as you please is a blessing, but what is the point of experiencing beautiful places if you without someone to share it with?

Encouraged by my L’Abri tutor and several friends, I took footage throughout my month-long journey aiming to make a video.  Doing so helped me through the loneliness that can come with solo travel by giving me a way to bring others into my adventures.  As I travelled, the thought of making this video really did help me during the rough days.  Instead of feeling sad and mopey about being alone, I was so focused on and excited about capturing my experiences in a creative way that negativity was driven from my mind.  The idea kept me going. Continue reading