People are reading

When I stepped outside at a quarter of noon this afternoon the sun was blinding but the air cool, a wind with a hint of the morning’s frost tossing the flag in front of the municipal building.

It’s a beautiful day, one that I wish I were spending pulling dead marigolds from the front flower bed to make room for the tender lambs ears that’s spreading through it and the bright green of daffodils poking through the earth.

There’s a car pulled up to the curb beside the newspaper box, and another parking in one of the few Gazette customer spaces. Our parking lot is busy at the lunch hour, people stopping by to grab a paper printed just an hour ago.

Many of those who pull up beside the red paper box are elderly. I don’t understand why, if their local news is so important that stopping by at noon is a part of their schedule, they don’t just subscribe. It’s cheaper per-paper that way.

But maybe it’s something they do weekly, not daily. Or maybe today their granddaughter’s first birthday picture is running or they want to know what happened out in the north half of the county, where neighbors are saying they saw the FBI searching a business-owner’s home.

Today it’ s a red car pulled up by the paper box and an older woman in the driver’s seat, permed hair curled close to her head and dyed a red-brown that makes me think of my great-grandmother. She’s got the paper spread out over her steering wheel; I think she’s reading the police reports on page 2.

It’s a gorgeous day and I’d rather be outside for it; birds are singing and Hot Dog John has his sidewalk cart parked out in front of the courthouse again, the stained yellow-striped umbrella rising above the hedge and a small knot of people gathering around him in the sunshine.

But I walk a back into the dim, warm office with a crumpled paper bag that’s all that’s left of the nutella-filled roll from the bakery around the corner; and when I walk passed the press running steadily below the observation balcony, I’m thinking of the woman reading her paper right there by the curb, engine running, seatbelt fastened, ready to go but reading first for whatever reason.

It makes the phone calls and the typing on a sunny afternoon a little more worthwhile.

It’s good to know that people are reading.


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Filed under Notebook sketches, People

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