There seem to be more difficulties dealing with boundaries, although I suppose there have been difficulties for as long as there have been people drawing lines in the sand. Or when someone made a decision about who could use that cave, or hunt in that forest, or fish in that river. When the traveling bookstore isn’t on the road, it’s parked seven miles from the Canadian border. Other than showing the right papers, it was an easy place to visit – going up to Fernie for the wonderful independent bookstore there or on longer adventures to Edmonton (and the wonderful Alhambra Books). But since last March the Canada-US border has been closed for these sorts of trips. The boundary is quite visible in our valley especially in winter with that snowy line stretching from one mountain to another. Close but closed.
Even on this side of the border though, there are struggles with boundaries. Who wears a face mask? Who doesn’t? Why is that person standing so close to me while waiting in line at the post office? Last summer for the first time since opening my traveling bookstore, customers went into my bookstore wearing sidearms. There are my boundaries. Personally I don’t like people wearing guns into my quite small bookstore. I do want people in my community to wear face masks and take other precautions in public during a pandemic. But these are challenges because unlike the border visible across the mountains, I need to establish my own boundaries and decide how to apply them in my sphere. This becomes more complex with seemingly arbitrary boundaries the current Montana legislature and governor are changing at an alarming rate. Can transgender youth play sports? Can children who aren’t vaccinated attend public schools? And yes, people have the right to wear their guns anywhere. And now there are no public health mandates concerning masks or public gatherings from the state government. It is an overwhelming time with frantic urgency to write my representatives in Helena, trying to get them to be sensible about those of us who live in this state, all of us who live in the state. Forcing us to think seriously about our boundaries.
I have the traveling bookstore and plan to set it up in Montana this summer. I hope to take it to other states by Fall. Now I read books – some recommended, some left on my doorstep as a donation, some discovered at the local library. These current times make me aware of books dealing with boundaries – The Women in the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, True North by Jim Harrison, and Savage Inequalities: Children in American Schools by Jonathan Kozol.
I can point to lots of things. Just had cataract surgery so one eye is very clear and focused while the other lags behind until next week. Then there is the political situation which is hard to easily capture. Sides so divisive now some friendships are ending, there are those family members who stop communicating and various community Facebook pages are shut down due to profanity. The aspen and larch trees have become golden. And when I get up early in the morning to walk before the work day begins, it is dark out.
The bookstore takes a break for a few weeks. Then in November we set up for Shop Small Saturday on 11/24 from 10:00 – 4:00 parked next to Montana Farmacy. And on December 1, the traveling bookstore will be at the annual Holly Faire from 9:00 – 5:00 at Eureka’s Creative Arts Center. Both enjoyable events plus a chance to find great gifts and support local merchants and artisans. The bookstore will offer its usual amazing selection of gently used books, St. Rita’s tshirts, gift cards, vintage postcards, and gift certificates. And yes, the typewriter will be set up in case you want to type a poem or holiday greeting to send someone special or a letter to your representative.
See? This is what I mean. There are truly dark moments when the days get shorter and the news out of Washington is utterly depressing. Then I read a wondrous book (Pride by Ibi Zoboi) or watch the autumn sun come through the old school house windows as women hand quilt on a Friday afternoon. Of course, none of this comes easily. Ibi Zoboi, while immigrating to the US with her mother, actually had months of separation before the authorities would allow her in. A quilt takes countless stitches (and sore fingers) to complete. No doubt it will take even more work for us to make positive changes, to address the starvation in Yemen, the thousands of detained children still in tent camps in Texas. Despite the darkness though, we need to look at these things. And act.
No, the traveling bookstore is not headed to Hawaii or Mexico at the moment. Its parked in Montana waiting for early spring or at least the roads to be snow-free. Then it will start up again to head east on our first trip in 2018, across to Minneapolis, Illinois, Indiana and a week in North Carolina. Then back on a different route to spread the enthusiasm for reading, conversation and books at as many stops as possible.
What does this have to do with sand? Nothing and everything. It began with a conversation this morning about drawing lines in the sand. At first the image might be one of children running on a beach shrieking with joy and drawing lines as far as they can possibly run. Or a lover drawing a gigantic heart with a set of initials in the sand for the incoming tide to carry out to eternity. But really the line in the sand from this morning’s conversation was about speaking out, not being shy. The conversation included showing respect of course but not accepting a racist remark or a misogynistic remark with a bland look because you don’t want to start an argument or seem unkind or upset the dinner conversation on Christmas. You could look the other way or try to change the subject, or you can draw a line in the sand. A line in the sand has qualities you might consider. You aren’t putting up a brick wall – its sand after all. You aren’t using the stick to strike the other person, no never do that, but to indicate in the sand that there are limits. And perhaps now is a good time to talk about them. So even though there is definitely more snow visible in Montana at the moment than sand, remember to draw lines. Its good to hear all kinds of voices.