The moment's breath

I worked at the tiny little North Bonneville branch of the library yesterday. It's only about 5 miles down the river, past Bridge of the Gods, around the curve in the highway, past the Bonneville Dam, and turn left into the tiny little town. Across the causeway from the post office, in the same building as the town hall, tucked into the back of the small building, is the library. Open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, from 1 to 5 in the afternoon.

There's nothing frenetic or usually even busy about working at North Bonneville. I take a lunch. And a book of my own to read. I mosey through the duties of the library worker, and chat with the occasional patron, and say, "yes, I can put that on hold for you." It makes for a quiet afternoon.

Yesterday a telltale stack of books about salmon came back to be checked in. The books were carried in by a mom and two sons, and ... well, "it takes one to know one." They were obviously homeschoolers. I asked. She said yes. I twinkled at her and checked in the books. Homeschoolers are really fun library patrons. Their appetite for books is voracious and their appreciation is palpable. And they find the really good stuff, so the library worker who processes the books gets to see all of these interesting volumes on their way to and from the various branches in the district.

After I locked up at five, I said good night to the city hall workers, and then I got into my car in the crisply blowing chill and sun of autumn, and I drove home in one, long, quavering, happy, contented sigh. I love where I live. Right now, everything has a kind of burnished shimmer as the brightest green recedes to give way to the darkest evergreens and all the strong bones of the land are laid bare for the winter rains again.

(Click on the pictures for links to more of them.)

On days like yesterday, it feels like I can breathe in the colors and hear the sunlight. There is no permanent hold on days like this. It's like a family table at dinner, or Christmas morning, or the first successful ride on a two-wheeler. No recording or picture album can capture such a day. Not really. Only mementos can be taken from days like this - mementos. Bits of things to help us remember.

Such times cannot be captured, but they can be inhaled.

I remember sitting on the couch in our little apartment, holding our third and youngest child. He was a very small baby, and I knew he would not stay that way for long. I closed my eyes that day and inhaled the moment. I tried to memorize it. I pressed it into my soul so that the image and impression might stay there. The moment is gone now, and has been for twenty years. But when I close my eyes and breathe slowly, I can remember it.

We cannot hold the days that pass, but we can breathe them in.

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