A Bucket of Daffodils

I know winter in California is nothing to complain about. But it’s still my least favorite season. December brings Christmas, but then the lights and the cookies and the carols are done. January wears on, and sweaters get thin in the elbows. Windshield wipers fray. I start to long for spring. 

And then there are daffodils.

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My mom brought me a miniature bucket of them for my office the other day. Yellow and sprightly, they brighten the whole room. I remember studying abroad in England and admiring the hardy bulbs, the only things daring to bloom in a stubbornly cold April.

British poet William Wordsworth, whose cottage we visited, admired them too. They filled his quaint garden, where I sat and jotted notes nearly four years ago.

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He admired these flowers so much that one of his most famous poems is called “Daffodils.” It starts with these lines:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

I only really understood what he meant when I saw the fields of daffodils that sprawl over the English countryside while spring is still clinging to winter.

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Maybe you need a cheerful sprig of yellow, a bucket of daffodils, in your life today. They’re flowers of hope. May they remind both of us that spring is coming.

Independent Bookstores: Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz

On an avenue lined with bakeries, antique shops, street singers, and delicious coffee stand three little-known gems of the literary world. Today we’re on Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz.
First stop: Bookshop Santa Cruz.
This one’s a mix of new and used books, priding itself on its independence and emphasis on local authors. With a clean, bright interior and an impressive selection, it’s also one of only twelve bookstores nationwide to have an Espresso Book Machine. Okay. This is the coolest thing ever. It’s a machine that prints books on demand, on the spot. You can select from over 8 million titles and have your own copy printed, bound, and trimmed in front of your eyes, or even self-publish your own book. (The link above includes a video of the machine printing.)

Next up: The Literary Guillotine.

Cool sign, right? Considering that Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorite books, I definitely stood there and snickered at it for a moment.
The Literary Guillotine isn’t located right on Pacific Avenue–it’s just off to the side, at 204 Locust Street (wonder if there’s any symbolism in that). There’s a cute little red wagon containing sale books just outside the door. Unfortunately, I thought the outside was a little cooler than the inside. Maybe I’d think differently if I were still in college–their selection is heavily academic, catering especially to UCSC students. Maybe my brain is getting soft, having been out of school for almost 2 years.
Last, but not least: Logos Books and Records.
Fun factoid: logos (λογοσ) means word or Word, one of my favorite words in Greek (see my blog subtitle). I’m not much of a music person, but Logos Books and Records definitely has a selection–along with a huge variety of paperbacks, hardbacks, bestsellers, and antiquarian books, which hold much more draw for me. Over 40 years old, Logos claims to be the largest independent used books and music store on the central coast of California. On a previous occasion, I found a book on bookbinding here; this time, I bought a copy of Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals, cross-referenced with a selection of her brother William’s poems. After learning about Dorothy while visiting the Wordsworth’s home in England, I was thrilled to find some of her writings. Such “finds” are one of my favorite things about the used bookstore experience–I came out with something I wasn’t looking for, but that adds a welcome “friend” to my collection. Old, obscure, and only $5? Yes please.

At a price like that, I can get coffee too…and enjoy both at San Lorenzo Park across the river.

Have you been to any of the bookstores on Pacific Avenue? Have any reviews, trip stories, or extra information to share? I’d love to hear your comments!