June had the traveling bookstore in Portland and San Francisco. July had it in western Washington state. There was the day set up at Kent Station. You might think this would be mundane. A yawn, just another bookstore day. Nope. Its not like that with the traveling bookstore business. Each time the door is opened and the accoutrements set out, a new adventure unfolds. The day at Kent Station had a group of artists sketching the bookstore in the morning light. It was the first time to use Square so customers can decide how they want to pay for their literary treasures. It was a conversation with an older woman about St. Rita’s Church in Tacoma. It was asking customers to add to the sandwich board so now the concept of traveling bookstore is in English, Japanese, Hebrew, French and Korean. It was sushi for lunch and delicious homemade cookies for an afternoon snack. It was meeting two young teachers who helped get the word out on their social media.
And then the bookstore left the urban scene to drive up numerous curves and through tall trees, beside sparkling lakes and signs advertising huckleberries for sale. It bumped gently down a dirt road near Ashford to park for a few days. A small but intense group of people there found books on poetry and philosophy and music that fit their tastes. And the bookstore picked up some new (used) books for its shelves including a volume of Blake, a guide to Mt. Rainier and an excellent English translation of the Tao Te Ching. Then back down the winding roads leaving the cedars and quiet lakes behind to drive north through Seattle and to Bellingham.
Even when not officially set up, there are spontaneous discussions. A clerk at a Seattle music store came out to the parking lot to ask about the bookstore. People ask about it when we stop to get gas. A couple from Illinois wondered about starting their own traveling bookstore business. A man from Eugene sitting in a bar saw it out the window and wondered how it worked. And always invitations to bring it to new places and different events. The traveling bookstore business can be a slippery slope. Surely one could be on the road 365 days taking it to urban centers and quiet towns, to music festivals and birthday parties. But it also feels good to have it parked at home. There is a chance to change out the books, to put in new options for curious readers. There is a chance to get the oil changed and to sweep out crumbs (yes the driver does eat cookies sometimes). And to read.