We have a friend on another boat who is obsessed with “keeping the weight down”. This isn’t directed at any of the crew (luckily for him – you take your life in your hands with that kind of action,) but rather at the boat itself. Every few months, a sort of fever grabs Mr Light Boat, and he starts sorting through their possessions with a grim and critical eye.
The first time we witnessed this, Mrs Light Boat was not a happy camper. She drove the dingy over to Papillon, and offered us a stack of books for the kids. I accepted gratefully, but we were shocked when we realized the problem.
“You don’t mean he’s making you get rid of books?” I asked. She nodded sadly.
“Because they are too heavy? Books?” asked Erik.
I was still having trouble processing this. “Yours and the kids – not just his own books.”
“Everyone’s,” she confirmed. “It’s the seasonal purge. Just give those a good home, would you?”
“Books,” Erik repeated as her dingy retreated into the distance. “That can’t be right.”
I shook my head. You wonder how a marriage can survive such trials.
Cruisers tend to get compliments on our minimalist lifestyles, but we all have our weaknesses. And reading material is ours. After food and water, books are the next most welcome items aboard. We trade, yes. Give away what we won’t read again, absolutely. But otherwise? Papillon will be naked and toyless before a bookless day dawns on our boat.
The photo at the head of this post shows my parents visiting us in the San Blas islands. You might wonder what everyone else was doing during that tropical vacation. Let me show you.
|You are witnessing my entire childhood. And also, adulthood.|
So maybe I can just blame my upbringing.
When we had to decamp to Australia, the girls were allowed to take a certain number of favorite books with them. They did not keep to the limits. I kept sneaking books out of their bags, and they kept sneaking them back in, but I didn’t feel too mean. Because I had the solution.
One of the great achievements of civilization is, in my view, the public library system. What could be better than an endless supply of new books to read and return? When we arrived in Australia, my first act was to enroll the girls in school. My second was to obtain a library card.
The library is less than 300 m from our door, so I anticipated visiting often. What I didn’t expect was to be there every day… and sometimes twice a day. And that my daughters would reveal a hard-core book addiction.
Yesterday, we made our daily pilgrimage after school. Stylish skipped on ahead of us, but Indy and I were only a minute or two behind her. Still, by the time we arrived, Stylish had checked out ten books.
“Honey,” I said, “You already have a ton of books checked out. I don’t want to lose any. You know we’ll be back tomorrow – can’t you just pick a few and leave the rest until then?”
“I’ll read all of them,” she said. “I need these books. Mom, please? Please? This will be it, I promise. No more until I’ve read these.”
Indy went off to pick her books. Stylish slipped three extra books into our checkout pile when she thought I wasn’t looking.
Out of curiosity (and dread), I checked my account online when I got home.
Thank goodness we have a small apartment – if I had to search for 35 library books in a house, I would lie down and give up right now. I have got to get stricter on this book issue. Maybe Mr Light Boat can give me some pointers.