As we lumbered up the main road I was immersed in a “vale of tears”. A gray fog seemed to have descended on my little family. There was weeping, mourning and gnashing of teeth. Goodness! These children were obviously beyond exhausted. To add to the drama my arms ached and burned as I carried Patrick, who had buried his face in my neck as he cried pathetically, up the stairs. Wall climbing and yoga were clearly too much in a day for me.
“Into the shower!” I directed the children when we arrived on the third floor. The place was deserted with everyone downstairs lined up for dinner. I stripped Patrick down, wrapped him in a towel and trundled him down to the shower. I sat him in the shower chair, his lower lip pouting. I ran back to my room to grab the necessary toiletries and ushered the girls along. They were still moping.
A couple of pushes on the shower and the water came in warm and comforting. I squeezed a generous dollop of shampoo on each head and guided them under the water. They went to work sulkily scrubbing the sand away. I stepped out, leaving the door open so I could supervise and melted into the couch in the hallway. I took a big deep breath. I glanced at the book shelf. I had noticed before that the collection was eclectic. There were some religious texts, comic books, old children’s library books, an atlas, murder mysteries, and one “bodice ripper” that had managed to slip in there somehow. In amongst all that I noticed a familiar yellow spine. Like a whirling vortex, my mind was flush with the memories of the summer of 1975 when I discovered a new heroine, Nancy Drew.
I had made a trip down our suburban street to the book mobile that made it’s weekly visit to the grocery store parking lot. It was a service provided by the local library during the summer months. A vacation trailer had been outfitted with shelves in the back and it was filled, floor to ceiling, with children’s books. I had gone in search of something to fill in the seemingly endless hours that stretched ahead of me that summer. A kind and friendly, elderly librarian lady was helping a mother with her two young boys check out their books as I entered and began to take stock of the possibilities on the shelves. Much to my chagrin, I had read most of the books.
“May I help you choose something?” She sweetly offered as she hobbled up behind me.
“Sure.” I had answered reluctantly. “I’ve read a lot of these though.” I indicated.
“Have you ever read the Cherry Ames series?” She asked me as she pointed to a set of books on the top shelf with the picture of a sweet faced girl with a nursing cap perched on her head.
“No.” I responded. I wasn’t particularly interested in reading about a nurse. Seriously. A nurse? How unoriginal, I thought scornfully. Rather ironic in retrospect.
“Well it is a very good mystery series. Or maybe something a little more to your liking might be a Nancy Drew book.” She pointed to another set of books with a bright yellow spine that featured a blonde haired, inquisitive looking Nancy holding a magnifying glass. “Nancy is very clever. She solves all kinds of mysteries,” she explained as she waved her hand along the shelf.
I pulled the first book down and realized I could fill my summer following the “cliff-hanging suspense and thrilling actions” of a intelligent, contemporary young woman. I wasn’t entirely sure what a sleuth was, but it sounded cool. I thanked the librarian, checked out the first four books of the series and crossed my fingers hoping I would like them. I clutched the books to my chest as I hurriedly returned home, practically threw myself into the backyard hammock and delved into the first chapter. I knew by the end of chapter one of “The Secret of the Old Clock” that my summer would be filled with the adventures of the “attractive titian blonde”. I devoured the series.
A plan began to formulate in my head. I looked over at the kids as they pushed the shower valve again, rinsing their soapy bodies. Their mood was lifting apparently as they had started to sing, “Under the Sea” and danced around in the shower.
“Finish up you three and dry off. I’m going to set everything up for a quiet evening for four.” I told them as I grabbed the book from the shelf and headed back to the room in a nostalgic reverie.