Tuesday, October 17, 2017

science kids and blue mountains



The Landa Library had their 70th birthday shindig Saturday. At the book sale, I spotted this gem, a well-worn edition of one of the Danny Dunn books. I gasped aloud.

Landa (and bookmobile) librarian Carl Bernal, whom we considered our family librarian for decades, turned me onto Danny Dunn, a series of slightly plausible science-fiction adventures (no Cat Women of the Moon but lots of tech that could theoretically happen, including, now that I think about it, virtual-reality drones).

Years later, Carl heard me on the radio and called the station. I told him Catherine and I were getting married soon, and invited him on the spot. On hearing we were going to Thailand for the honeymoon, he got excited because he'd been recently and loved it. He also immediately began recommending Thailand books. True to form.

At the reception, along with a more standard wedding gift, he passed me an envelope. Thai currency! Arriving in Bangkok at midnight, we were grateful not to have to deal with exchange. And there was enough to pay for the cab and our first hotel night, with a little left over.

Throughout our stay, I looked for some cool little thing to spend the last of Carl's money on. One day, down south, we were at a coffee place that had Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. I'd never had it, but recognized it as the first better-than-Maxwell-House coffee I remember hearing about, well before the era of boutique coffee, back when i was 9 or 10. Where did I hear about it, you ask? The Danny Dunn books! (His mom and Professor Bullfinch liked it.) And it cost exactly the amount of Carl's money we'd had left over. I thoroughly enjoyed the excellent coffee, the superb coincidence, and the reminder, in this faraway land, of a dear friend, a guide to life well lived, then and now.

A lady who had heard my gasp came and found me on the grounds later, wondering what on earth could have produced it. I recounted the whole story to her and her young family, who were, or pretended to be, enchanted. I'd decided not to buy the book, even though it benefitted the library, so I was glad to see later that her husband had nabbed it. He said the whole thing was too good to resist. Just think: years from now his grandkids may remember, in their middle age, those great old 20th-century books he had lying around when they were kids.

So. I'm brewing some coffee (Yirgacheffe, if you must know). If you're drinking one, join me in a toast! to Carl, to the Landa, and to the many people who opened my first glimpses of faraway lands through books.


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