I don't go to the office between Christmas and New Year's so I work on my list of overdue household projects. This holiday season I planned to weed out our overflowing bookshelves. Thanks to the big snowstorm last weekend, I got an early start. I decided to take the "low-hanging fruit" by getting rid of outdated travel guides. My thought was we would want to buy new ones if we ever return to those places.
There were eight Michelin Green Guides on one shelf. Together with the relevant maps, they were our guides on many bike trips in France. Our Michelin Guide to Paris is the most worn because we started and ended so many trips there. But the guides to Alsace-Lorraine, the Dordogne, Burgundy, Loire Valley, Provence and Brittany have a lot of life left in them. Except that the most recent one is ten years old.
Before I threw them away, I glanced at a few pages. And I got carried away by the memories. Like the time in the Dordogne when we missed a turn and got lost on a dirt trail that wound through farm fields. We stopped at the nearest farmhouse to ask how to get back on the road. Peter asked the farmer for directions and our friend Christa talked to his wife. These separate conversations occurred in French, where, admittedly, our fluency left a bit to be desired.
When Peter and Christa came back to our bikes, they reported completely contrary instructions. We still laugh about that experience.
And then there was the time that we needed to cross a river in Bordeaux. The map showed us the road to take—it was a long downhill ride to the river, the breezes cooling our hot, tired bodies. But when we got to the river, there was no bridge. So we had to ride back up that big hill and find another route. It was exhausting, but it made a great story.
Sitting on the floor next to the bookshelves, I allowed myself to get totally lost in our Green Guides. The memories of those wonderful trips were irresistible. At the end of the evening, I put all the books back on the shelf.
I just couldn't toss them.