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The Monday morning writing group at Dudley’s bookstore, Bend, Oregon, 2016 October 31

Prompt – Mysterious ways in which libraries and animals enrich humanity.

I stood in awe in front of the big desk in one of the biggest library reading rooms in the United States. The University of California Berkeley Doe Library is enormous, and the designers back in 1911 spared no expense in making it a clarion call to scholars all over the world that this is where they should spend their academic lives.

To make my astonishment and awe deeper and even more humbling was the young woman behind the counter. She was so beautiful it made my toes tingle, and when she spoke her obvious intelligence let me know instantly I was in the right place. She was so interested in helping me get what I wanted that I soon forgot my own anxieties and followed her over to the exact book I was searching for. That book was a few years before a common book in some places, but now it was rare and only available in a research library. Probably the Library of Congress would have it, but that was several thousand miles away. I came back to that shelf of books several times and a week later I asked that librarian if she would have a coffee with me at the local coffee shop. She said she couldn’t. She was a graduate student at the UC library school and next week was final exams, and she didn’t have time.

A few days later I was running through campus coming back from the top of Grizzly Peak where I ran to from my home twice a week. It was a nine-mile run with 1662 feet of elevation gain, and I had run that route about 500 times. I was in great physical shape and I was even running marathon races occasionally. That’s when it happened.

She was sitting on a park bench as I ran by on my way home, more or less at my top speed—I always pushed myself when running—and after some fifty steps more, I thought I should go back and ask her if she would have coffee with me after she had finished her finals. As it happened she was going to give a verbal presentation in about ten minutes, and she was obviously terrified. Speaking before an audience is one of the most stressful things there is for most people, and speaking before your professors for your final exam has got to be at the top of the anxiety scale.

There she was all anxiety ridden and studying her notes, and there I was all sweaty and panty from having run to the top of Grizzly Peak. It was a strange situation.

Yes. – Tomorrow at noon.

That was how I met Debbie thirty-one years ago.

Yes, libraries have been mysterious places for me and my animal nature.