The plan was to leave early and head north up the Thruway. Of course, the start was late although without a plan we may never have started at all. We did finally make it up to Woodstock to break for lunch at Joshua’s Cafe, an odd mix of Middle Eastern and American Diner. Afterwards a stop at the local photo gallery that I had missed on the last visit and then up the street to The Golden Notebook.

There was an independently published book I left behind there – Woodstock Before Woodstock by David Malcolm Rose – and with The Brunette’s help found it again in the local authors bookshelf. Wonderful storytelling about a boy that grew up in a place that was a small town before it became a rock star. And here we were in Woodstock after Woodstock, which now has become a tourist and shoppers paradise – although the reminders still pass thru with graying ponytails and knapsacks.

What was, was.

Then off on our last leg up to Troy where we spent the weekend with family. We reserved a morning where the Brunette and I could go out on our own and seek out old barns to wander around and photograph. Then north a few more miles up to DogEars Books where we met the owner out in the balding parking lot in front of the barn. He asked – as always – if we were looking for anything in particular and I mentioned two poetry books I left on the shelves during our last visit. “You know where they are then,” he said.

I went straight inside to the poetry shelves picking out the two older Mary Ruefle books I leafed thru on our last trip – Memling’s Veil and  a wrapped copy of Life Without Speaking that Ruefle had signed on the title page. Both were in the same spot that I had left them.

On the way out I mentioned to the proprietor that we both had the same first names. He lit up at that sudden revelation and shook my hand with a strength that I didn’t expect from this head of gray hair and soft voice.

“Mary Ruefle,” he paused thinking about the books I picked, “she came down from Vermont, didn’t she?”

“Not sure,” I said, “but I’ll look into it.”

“She came from two poets – Mary and Steven.”

“Possibly,” I said.

He nodded and smiled again. Then as I turned and walked out thru the old wooden door I heard him say to himself “I’ll have to ask Steven the next time  I see him.”

I know he will. The man knows more than books.

gargoyle_dog ears_3_flkr The gargoyle reads…
DogEars Books, Hoosick NY
© Jeff Kopito
(*yes…the gargoyle came home with us as well…)