Seeking Comfort in Familiar Places

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I’m looking for some comfort these days as the world shrinks into itself.

When I was a child, my mother’s arms always provided that comfort, from a bee sting or a bully at school,  she was there. I remember one rainy evening as I sat on the back porch reading and enjoying the sounds of nature, a slash of lightning and a loud boom drove me into the house and onto her lap.  I was 15, proving that one is never too old for a warm lap and loving arms wrapped around you. I can almost hear my mom’s joyful laughter when I landed on her lap. 

My spouse has provided comfort through the death of my parents, the loss of a fulfilling job, the trials with a child coming of age and seeking their identity. We have been there for each other through the excitement and challenges of moving our new home, making new friends and finding new opportunities. We hold each other tight each night before sleep and upon awaking each morning, always thankful for another day together. 

These early days of this pandemic, I’ve asked old friends to open their arms and bring me into their worlds and keep mine at bay while I enjoy the warm spring sun and my small place in the world. 

I’ve found comfort with Scout and Jem as we learn about the evil that can lurk in the hearts of truly good people, and with Harry, Hermione, and Ron as we fight it evil with young, inexperienced but dedicated hearts (and wands!).

More friends call to me from bookshelves spread across three rooms in my home – mostly novels but also non-fiction and books about writing, books on my hobbies — gardening, yoga, and bread baking. 

I have a shelf devoted to my friends’ books. Barbara, Chuck, and Diane’s poetry sits between Tom’s short story collection and Andrew’s debut memoir. Novels by Anne, AJ, and Craig jam up against the handful of publications with my short stories and are anchored by Susan’s well-received anthology of early female educators, including our own Olive Dame Campbell, a co-founder of the John C Campbell Folk School.  

In the coming weeks I plan to solve mysteries in Three Pines with Inspector Gamache then travel to London and join Inspector Lynley followed by a ride through Absaroka County with Sheriff Longmire. Maybe I will tour the South with Eudora Welty, Carson Mueller, or Fanny Flagg while sitting comfortably on my back patio in my chaise lounge, a cup of tea at my side. Or perhaps I’ll see what appears in my Little Free Library posted in front of my house. 

Thousands of these libraries have sprouted up across the globe. A web link to their map allows you to find one   and explore what neighbors and friends have dropped off.  A page turner thriller kept me from weeding the garden on Friday and three Steven King books appeared this week, including a short story collection that promises to both entertain me and show me well written sentences, great verbs, and lovely phrases – all examples that will help me improve my own writing. 

So, my trip to Europe was cancelled. I can’t hang out in my coffee shop or drink a beer with friends at the new brewery, but I can hang with literary friends. I have technology to communicate with IRL friends. (in real life), and I’m among the lucky to have a roof over my head and plenty of food in the pantry.  

It will be a long spring. We don’t know what’s coming, but each day that a new case of this virus arises in North Carolina, a person recovers somewhere across the globe and that’s the hope that fills my life. 


Kate M Carey writes from Lexington and Surf City, North Carolina. She’s hopeful that the spring and summer bring more joy than sorrow for the world. 


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  1. Cindy Brookshire

    Books are friends in time of need! So are blank composition books for writing and calming our anxious thoughts, or for describing the favorite places we can’t visit right now. Sadly, some neighborhood stewards of Little Free Libraries have emptied their stock and posted bleak signs. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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