Saturday, July 2, 2016

South Mountain July 2016

Rather spontaneously, the evening before, we decided to take this rare Saturday on which we had no duties to go to South Mountains State Park and hike it as a family--because we haven't been on the go-go-go enough for the last couple of weeks, right?

Eating lunch before the hike--next time, bring a table cloth

We hadn't thought about the fact that this is a holiday weekend (Independence Day), so hadn't realized it would be very crowded, but it was fine and not bothersome.

Stalking a lizard

Stalking a lizard

I was lamenting to Chris that, in my hiking hey day, I used to weigh a whole lot less, was a much greater proportion muscle, and I'd hike 5+ miles on the weekends carrying almost half my weight (which I measured out on a bathroom scale, filling my pack with hardbound books, as a training exercise). And now, I'm wobbling under the weight of a 25-pound baby on my back--which is a much smaller percentage of my current body weight!--I'm herding four other children, and the two-mile hike (round trip) took us two hours and left me spent.

But this hiking sure comes with a lot more companionship and joy!

A certain little melancholic kept up chatter along the lines of, "Mama, it is too hot. I refuse to go another step. There are bees, Mama, bees! Now I have dirt on my hands. Do you have a baby wipe? I refuse to go on if there is dirt on my hands!"

Thumbs down from Margaret

Someone was not having fun.

On the drive home, we passed through the darling downtown of rural Lincolnton where I had earlier spotted North State Books. Chris must really love me because, even though he thinks I bring way too many books into our home, he offered that I could go into the bookstore while he kept the little kids in the car. I toted along the 9- and 7-year-olds and we were in hog heaven.

I saw too shy to whip out my camera to capture this place, but you're in luck because I found photos of the bookstore on Facebook:

The owner of the wonderful, labyrinthine North State Books

There are books piled everywhere: thousands and thousands of books, most of them hardbound. Many of the books are stacked in piles double deep, so one can't even see the rear pile. In some places, the books are piled to the ceiling. The aisles in the bookstore are so narrow that one must suck in one's gut to get through (well, some of us do!), but some aisles are so full of books that no one can get down them anymore.

The front window is dressed with a Christmas tree, still lit (in July) and decorated with a stuffed possum. The tree can't be taken down because it is surrounded by so many books, it is inaccessible.

The owner seems the quiet sort who would own this type of bookstore. When I first entered and the bells on the doorknob jingled, he called out, "Hello" from the deep recesses. I cheerfully told him that I had a question for him about some books and he replied, still hidden from the back of the store, implying that I could ask my question perfectly well from me here and him there. And you know what? That's just how I like to talk to strangers too: from far away, preferably separated by a wall of books.

I could have spent all day in this store!

I could take up employment as an old lady in a store like this.

It was so hard to tear myself away from the store, but I came away with a few inexpensive treasures, including some beautifully illustrated, hardbound versions of Tom Sawyer and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and--for fifty cents per volume--most of the Encyclopedia American. (The owner scribbled out my purchases on a spiral bound notebook, calculating the total by longhand, and referring to a chart on a yellowed piece of paper to tally the tax.)

On the way home, children began reading our new acquisitions--lucky dogs, don't get carsick.  Mary declared of Tom Sawyer as we pulled into the driveway, "This one is mine!" She rushed indoors and hid the book so nobody else could snatch it and read it first.

The bookstore was the highlight of my day--a fun family day!


  1. What a good way to use your "something spontaneous" slot of the day. :)

  2. What a lovely family day! I can't imagine it being any more amazing than hiking and in an old book store surrounded by so many treasures.nSoinda r

  3. I love the pictures of you all on the wooden pathway!

    Didn't Mary used to get carsick? I'm so glad if she has outgrown it. I read so many books in the car as a child.