October fifth is the publication date of our book, Loaners: The Making of a Street Library! You can register to attend our conversation with Omar El Akkad , watch our book trailer and pre-order a copy for yourself and a library patron.
I’m at work on an essay for the Powells blog that aims to capture how many generous people it takes to make a book, whether it’s the early readers, stellar editors, or fellow writers willing to put a blurb on the cover. If it’s like most things I write, the final words on the page will look pretty different from the way they appear in my head, but for now, my overwhelming sentiment is gratitude for so much support as we launch this book. I’m also thinking a lot about our Street Books library patrons and their willingness to show up at the shifts each week for their books and to be a part of the story we tell in Loaners.
A couple of weeks ago, our cats Myrtle and Ferd discovered a nest of baby rats in a downspout at the corner of our house. They’d managed to fish one young rat out and Myrtle was working it over like cats do, alternately tossing it in the air and pressing it down on the grass with her paw. I told Ben that I was going to let nature run its course and not interfere – we’re not running a rat refuge, after all, (or at least, not on purpose: the nest may be the last vestige of glory days when we raised chickens and all creatures in the yard got sleek and glossy on the kitchen scraps we threw out). But finally I couldn’t stand the sound of tormented little squeaks. Up close I saw the small rat with its sides heaving, its shiny brown eyes staring straight ahead. I scooped a cat in each arm and deposited them inside the screen door. I figured I’d give the rat a grace period so it could collect itself. But I turned back just in time to see a Scrub-Jay swoop down, grab the rat in its beak and take flight again. Ben and I looked at each other in shock. I guess we’d assumed Scrub-Jays ate berries and insects. Pretty sure this is the same bird that takes luxurious baths in the water bowl I put on the fence, (more on the mixing bowl in July’s post). The following evening I discovered another post-Myrtle rat in the yard, already dead. Sure enough, when I looked around, I spied the Scrub-Jay waiting expectantly on a limb of the Maple tree. Before I could recite the last lines of Thanatopsis over the rat, the jay swept down and carried off his supper.