By the end of May, our temperatures hit ninety every day. Even though our library was closed due to the pandemic, I enjoyed reading other books in my air-conditioned house!

Still, I grinned when an email announced, “curbside” public library operation would begin on the following Monday.

The library had been closed nearly two months. Since I watch a DVD every afternoon in place of taking a nap, I had viewed all I had checked out – twice! My borrowed books were bagged, waiting to be returned. Waiting for the institution to re-open, I had been reading vol-umes gifted by friends.

When the library had closed two months before, I had two requested videos and one book awaiting pick up. Too late! Now, two months later they still waited. I was e-a-g-e-r to get them!

During our Florida Covid 19 lockdown, I could have ordered books from Amazon, but that presented a problem. I love my books too much! Like snug-gly, fuzzy puppies, I have spent precious hours with each vol-ume. I know them intimately. If I let go of them, I want to be sure each one goes to a good home. Finding special folks to give my books to is time-consuming!

Nine-thirty was the time the library would be open to collect my books. At that time, I stepped into the Honda carrying my bag of books and DVD returns. I don’t want to be first. I wanted to watch the process be-fore my turn.

Patrons wait their turn to collect items.

Several cars were lined up near the library entry but two pod-type storage units caught my eye as I turned into the parking lot. As I followed the U-shaped drive past the pods, their doors were shut. In an article in The

Storage pods?

Gainesville Sun, I had read all returned library materials would be “quarantined” for seventy-two hours. Perhaps those pods are to quarantine returned items.

In the same article, I read the library personnel would only take numbers and bringing out orders. Numbers? Maybe my email notice will have one.

However, no number appeared anywhere on the mes-sage I received earlier that mor-ning. No number? I frowned. Guess I’ll have to wait to see what that’s about.

Isolating at home, I had lots of COVID 19 questions and also worries about whether to travel North – and if so – how! I leaned heavily on reading and DVDs for relaxation. I wanted mental peace before sleep. Reading certain kinds of fiction helped me unwind.

Before the virus struck, I was finishing the “Shetland” series by Ann Cleeves. Two books remained unread – the library had held one for me since April! Also being held were two “Shetland” DVD sets which featured the same Cleeves’ char-acters. I’ve waited long enough!

I took a deep breath and watched the process work with people in the three cars ahead of me. A masked library person ap-proached the passenger side of the car where the window was down.

Library worker collects information.

She wrote on a clip board and handed the paper to a “runner” who did a fast walk back into the building. In a few minutes a teen returned with a white vinyl bag emblazoned “Love (big red heart) my Library!” The worker dropped the filled bag into the car.

When I pulled up to the portico, I saw two teens with messy ponytails standing on the library’s porch waiting to carry orders.

Almost my turn! I can finally ask about that number!

When the library assis-tant leaned to my car’s pas-senger side window she said, “I need to see your library card.”

“My card?” I fished in my purse.

She shook her head. “Can’t get a library loan without your number!”

So that’s the mysterious ‘number!’”

I held out my card and she copied my number and name onto her clipboard. “Thank you. Just pull ahead a bit. It’ll be a minute.”

Almost, almost….!

Suddenly a pony-tailed girl was at my passenger-side window holding a white vinyl bag. She asked, “What’s your name?”

Now what? I recited the name on my library card.

The helper nodded and dropped the bag onto my pas-senger seat. I touched the bag’s smooth surface and sighed. Finally!

Before heading home, I wheeled past the book return slot and slid in my other books and DVDs.

Parked in my garage, I reached over and picked up the shiny white bag. Like an eager child opening a birthday gift, I pulled out the contents: Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves and two “Shetland” DVD series: seasons three and four. Goody, goody!

I dropped them back into the bag and hugged it to my heart as I entered the house, smiling.

Watching and reading stories must be a gift from God.

I am blessed!

Frances Fritzie

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