That smell. The smell of the familiar that links me back to my earliest days at the small public library in our tiny village. The days of cards, stamps, and one marvelously stereotypical bespectacled librarian (in my case) controlling it all from the desk by the door.
I used to love to read the date stamps on the pocket in the back of each book . . . remember those? They mapped the journey of a book. I wanted to see how often or how long ago someone had checked out the very same book I was now reading. Sometimes they added that little paper because they needed more space to stamp. And you had to return to the library with the physical book in hand to renew it and receive another stamp in the back.
That smell. The smell of the unfamiliar, too. The possibilities, the characters, places, and authors I was becoming acquainted with for the very first time. Thrilling and enchanting in all their glorious promise. Old friends. New friends.
You understand. You remember that feeling. You know that I can remember each age and stage by whom I was reading at that time, because you can do the same thing. Our daughter picked up a book today and I sighed happily in recognition. "Oh, yes . . . that was second grade. Another made me chuckle at my "turn of the century phase " when I wanted high-waist dresses and huge bows in my hair.
You understand. You remember. You know.
Every time I venture into a library I think "why have I stayed away so long?"
Have you sniffed a book lately? You deserve it.