So back in my second trimester, it seemed like a good idea to set up a few readings in the summer–not a full fledged tour, but a few out of town dates that could be buffered with visits to friends and family. But that was before we tried juggling two kids, which we are realize with each passing day is a long, steep learning curve.
But despite the long travel days, Amelie’s unflagging determination to perform princess plays every minute of every day (complete with swaddle blanket costumes), and Isaiah’s reliable witching hour (which just happened to occur during my reading times), we had fun. The Pacific Northwest is our absolute favorite region of the country. If I could transport those massive walls of trees to wherever I lived for the rest of my life, I would.
In Portland, I returned to Annie Bloom’s to read, and it really is one of the sweetest independent bookstores we’ve frequented. There is a bookstore feline ambassador who sleeps on the counter in a groomed, snug catbed. This time around, it was a friendly, tiny three-year-old black cat named Molly. The audience was mostly comprised of old friends, students and colleagues, so it didn’t even feel like a reading, but more of a chat of what I’ve been doing for the last eight years.
Any fantasy I had of revisiting our old favorite restaurants and sights while in Portland was quickly replaced with the more pressing objective of keeping the children happy and occupied between naptime and bedtime. So instead of eating at Pok Pok or catching a movie at the Kennedy School, we visited the children’s museum and the zoo. But some overlapping activities included visiting Multnomah Falls, my favorite waterfall, bookstores, and strawberry picking at Kruger Farms in Sauvie Island.
But the best activity probably had to be visiting the Enchanted Forest, an adorable, ethereal children’s park in Salem, Oregon with our old friends Mika and Loren, and their children. It is like Oakland’s Fairyland, but in a wooded, mossy forest. And no crowds. On a Saturday morning, we could walk on to any attraction or roller coaster we wanted without any wait. Amelie fell in love with this park, expressing both fear (she refused to enter the witch’s mouth) and wonder (she ran with both arms open to hug the life-size park mascot, a chipmunk.)
Though I’ve read at several branches of the Seattle Public Library in the past few years, I’d forgotten just how beautiful and impressive the central library was. We took the kids to the Children’s Center, where Amelie was warmly approached by a librarian to participate in a lamb hunt. The scavenger hunt, which is refreshed weekly, encourages kids to read a book about a beloved children’s character, and become more familiar with the luscious space. The reading took place on the red floor, which is also gorgeous eye candy. The attendees, including some of my Hedgebrook sisters, were warm and supportive.
Both literary cities refreshed my faith in the state of contemporary reading, reminding me that there are actually people out there who read and attend book readings for pleasure.