The Toadstool is not the kind of store you where you “pop” in for something. You go there to relax from all the “pop-in” errands you’ve chased down on Saturday morning. The café perfumes the air with coffee and pastries, the music is unobtrusive but interesting enough to go with you as you browse the aisles of shelves. So many covers, so much artwork calling for your eye’s attention. Once you find something you like, you are invited to sink into the comfortable chairs and couch to peruse your choice. There’s no hurry here, it’s cosy and homey, unlike the glass and chrome of the big box bookstores.
I was nervous, but was met by a fellow blogger in the parking lot, who helped me to suck it up and take a breath. Then I saw my neighbor, and another friend, and another neighbor, Wilson. He was chatting with a man I didn’t know. Wilson introduced us and I discovered he had known my grandfather very well. We chatted about my grandparent’s home, and how my grandfather had marked the water levels of the 1938 hurricane. This year is the 75th anniversary of the storm so it is big news around here. He then asked after my mom, who he had also known. I’m not usually superstitious, but a sudden stranger, calling up memories made me think, maybe, just perhaps, I was right where I was supposed to be that sunny morning in Oct. And maybe, just perhaps, my mom did know about the book and was pleased. She was slightly younger than I am now, when we wrote the letters that form the book.
I walked into the Toadstool and suddenly, it was like a party I was hosting instead of a presentation. The eighteen people filled the space and I thought to calm my nerves by reading a few choice parts from my book. The owner took me aside and said he was selling out of the copies he had ordered. Had I thought to bring a few? OK, you mean that box that rides around in the back seat of my truck, right?
I read what I had chosen and was pleased when laughter rippled through the audience at times. It became easier to feel comfortable and relax. Dry-mouth was my only enemy. I think perhaps I read a bit too long, but the questions that followed proved the audience was caught up in the story.
Even though most of the people were from parts of my life that never touch, or touch minimally, the conversations flowed around the space. I was fascinated by the few who didn’t know me and had not read the book. Questions came up like: “Why MISadventures?” Did you have any regrets when it was public?” “Did you view your mother differently when re-reading the letters?” “What do your daughters think of it?”
I was so touched by the support of friends and the kindness of strangers…
NOTE: My apologies to Laura from TouringNH who took these wonderful photos. Meant to include this in the original post. Thanks Laura!!