COMMUNITY LOVE: Celebrating a Little Free Library DIVA style!

During the lockdown, when schools were remote and the library was only open for grab -’n – go, a family on Burchfield Avenue here in my hometown came up with a special plan to bring joy to their neighbors through books. They built and established a Little Free Library known as Suzanne’s Little Free Library. 

I first noticed this library on my walks last fall. What a lovely one it is, sturdily constructed by all members of the family and colorfully painted with some of their favorite children’s book characters. Aren’t Babar and Celeste joyfully rendered! And just look at that cedar shingled roof. Wow!

 Behind those inviting glass doors, throughout the pandemic, passers-by have been able to explore a thoughtfully curated selection of books for kids and grown ups alike. What a blessing it was during those long months — not just for me, but for the whole community —  to be able to open those Little Free Library doors and actually peruse and touch books!

Suzanne’s Little Free Library was actually one of the stops on Little Owl’s Kindness campaign, in which I left a copy of LOVE IS KIND in five area Little Free Libraries, if you remember that from last fall.

Imagine my delight, then, to discover through Instagram, that Suzanne and her family were planning a One Year Birthday Celebration for their library. What a darling idea! Taking a leap, I messaged Suzanne to see if she’d be interested in having a local author (me) be part of the fun with a special story time. She said yes, and I’m so glad she did.

The party was amazing with coloring pages and crafts for the kids and creative book-themed snacks like these delicious book worms. And there were books, of course. Oodles of books.

The attendees were friendly and book-loving. I loved every part of the party – from chatting to snacking to story time.

Of all my picture book characters, Diva Delores is the one who most relishes a party, so I decided to read DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE for the story time. As you can see, Delores and I are very expressive when we read!  

I enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of this special afternoon. And what did Diva Delores most enjoy? She loved playing a starring role in helping an adorable three-year old attendee overcome his fear of stuffed animals.

Delores also enjoyed snapping this very glam picture of us donating a copy of the book to Suzanne’s Little Free Library. Thank you, Suzanne and team for having us! And thank you for being a shining example of community kindness and positivity.

KNIT THE TOWN: Thoughts on HOPE, LOVE, COMMUNITY (and writing)

A few weeks ago, I was asked by Teresa Murray, an extraordinarily creative knitter here in my hometown, if I wanted to participate in a surprise project to dazzle and cheer our little downtown clock plaza with yarn. We’d be yarnstormers, she explained, and the goal was to knit and/or crochet colorful creations which we would then wrap around the clock, lampposts, trees, benches, bike racks etc.  No need to buy new yarn, the challenge would be to use whatever we had on hand.  I immediately said yes, for I love a challenge and especially one that celebrates and blesses community through art.  

I chose a tree with a 72 inch circumference and quickly had a vision in my head of what I wanted to create – a patchwork of happy patterns framing the the word HOPE.  

Then, each day for two weeks, I spent at least an hour a day (and much more towards the end when I realized the project was bigger than I anticipated) knitting.  Since the final project needed to stretch 72 inches, I divided the project into three panels that I sewed together at completion.  The center panel featured the letters H O P E each offset by colorful complementary yarn.  I knitted the side panels patchwork quilt style, creating the brightest and cheeriest variety of colorful patterns that I could think of including stripes of all varieties – both vertical and horizontal, dots, checks etc. And I used the largest needles I had, size fifteen, intentionally knitting loosely for maximum stretchiness.  

When finished, it only measured 50 inches in diameter and I was worried it wouldn’t stretch around the tree completely.  But, thankfully, it was strong and plenty stretchy and I was able to wrap it around my assigned trunk and sew it in place with ease.  The result?  Success! Joy! 

It now hangs for a limited time with the knitted and crocheted creations of fifteen local “fiber artists” as Teresa so charmingly has called us.  Each piece is unique and together they fill the space with color and joy.  I’ve been down town a couple of times since the installation and have enjoyed watching people sit in the plaza enjoying the installation as they sip coffee or nibble ice cream.   

My hope is that the installation will be a reminder that hope lives and that, with intentionality,love and respect for all, we can come together as a beautifully diverse community (and world) of humans – each special and unique – but lovingly knit together into one humanity – just as all the colorful bits of yarn in this installation have come together to create beautiful works of art.

And the writer in me can’t help but be reminded that writing stories and poems is a lot like knitting. And that like these knitted creations, stories and poems also have the ability to bring us together and instill hope. Surprise, surprise, I’ve even written about the parallels between knitting and writing on this blog – twice!  Here are links.  Enjoy!  

SMITTEN with KNITTIN’: Writing in Verse 

KNITTING: Writerly Wisdom for the NEW YEAR (from a nine-year-old)