On the Stone Path of Montague

September 22, 2018, Montague, Massachusetts

I went to the city of Montague, Massachusetts, for the sole reason of visiting The Montague Book Mill. It took me two hours one-way to get there and a distance well-worth enduring.

Since I moved to MA, I decided that I need to explore more. More day trips, more time in the car, traveling overseas, and especially with various subjects and practices. It is always a knee-jerk reaction to be wary or afraid of the unknown and unfamiliar. But the beauty of this notion is that when you do it, in spite of the fear and/or anxiety, you become wiser and braver.

I believe that the day you no longer feel fear is the day you take your last breath. Instinctively, we, homosapiens, revolutionized our minds to react with that fear by utilizing it for our future endeavors; i.e. learn from our experiences and perfect whatever it is we are, or have yet, to deal with.

Once we conquer, we are hungry for more. We are always hungry for the pleasure or satisfaction we gain afterward.  And once again, I’m satisfied I went on this day trip; one of several actually since I squatted here in New England.

Anyway, I first found out about the Bookmill when I came across a Facebook post, a couple weeks back, providing a preview of the shop and its surrounding nooks and running waters. I thought it’d be something unique to see so I tucked it away in my memory for later.

This past week, I thought this weekend would be a good day for it. Originally, I intended to be up and out the door by 10 a.m. but exhaustion had caught up with me. I woke up at one in the afternoon. Whoops.

So to make up for it, I hauled ass. I threw on some clothes, brushed my teeth, grabbed a protein drink and was ready in the Outlander t-minus fifteen minutes.

Driving two hours straight has been nothing for me ever since my college days going back and forth from main campus and home-home on the occasional weekend visit. I put on my favorite Apple Podcast called Myths and Legends with the narrator Jason Weiser informing about Gawain’s beginning from the King Arthur legend. Each episode is about 30-40 minutes long so the majority of the ride had gone by.

I also passed and drove alongside cars from various states: California, Nevada, Colorado, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, and New Mexico. I saw the last one while in the back parking area of the reconstructed mill.

It’s amazing when you reflect on how far people go to explore, make new memories and/or relive old ones. Even go the distance to visit and revisit loved ones too; from the Midwest to western MA, we would drive the six hundred-plus miles every summer and every other Christmas to see my maternal side of the family.

I made a sharp turn into the back dirt lot in front of the recycle barrels and went to the little wooden bridge bracketing the trees that shaped the concrete road. I crossed the street and immediately walked onto the wooden pathway unintentionally with a heavy footfall. It led to the second floor of the restored mill.

From the door frame to the asymmetrical ceiling, in-wall shelves were clustered with used and reprinted books. I admit I felt a stab of disappointment believing it to be something more than what’s right in front of my eyes. But then I paced around the creaky floor to the shelves. I noticed between columns were little nooks for reading and writing. They also had aged open windows with its white paint chipped along the edging. You had a perfect view of the river from the mill running down. You’d feel its gentle refreshing, but far-flung spray.  It surprised me that most of the occupants resided in the fray-fabricated wingback chairs instead of breathing in the invigorating river breeze on a brisk Autumn afternoon. Nevertheless, it was a gold mine of its own.

Hell, in less than five minutes I scored big coming across a book printed in Italy circa 1956 for a price of $2.95. I can’t stress enough how these treasures are hard to come by. However, most don’t see the value in pieces of history such as this. Someone printed this in black and white as it was an expensive time to use color. Another bought this book and took it with them from the Florentine side of Italia. Finally, one other devalued the time-worn pages and gave it away.

Well, it’s mine now. And it’s able to be used for reference for another of my manuscripts on my Drive. For now, it rests securely on display with my vintage findings of Shakespeare, Dickens, Dumas, Scott, and more I’ve collected for the last two years.

Shortly, I head down the tight, rickety staircase to the main floor. With a quick perusal of the standing shelves, I made a sharp turn into a narrow room. Down the middle was an elongated duel bookshelf that created a U-shaped queue for the patrons to browse the books on display, in the crannies, and, in particular, a tall, glass-paned cabinet.

Through the transparency, I eyed a faded olive-green book that read “The Works of Christopher Marlowe.” Inside the initial page dates it to be impressed in 1929 with its first edition to be nineteen years prior. An impression of an edition is simply a republication of a specific book format. The price for this sentimental item was a mere $39.95. A fellow bard alongside Shakespeare, Marlowe is one work I’d like to dive into when the right time comes.

With a shop tee to go with my findings, I stepped out and into the condensed used-music store next door. Spying an Enigma CD and classical galore, I skipped out and took some pictures before heading back home.

I knew I was going to need coffee so I made a pitstop in Amherst on UMass main campus. Not gonna lie but I was feeling a little nostalgic being on a college campus again. I greatly enjoyed the academic and social aspects of a college town. All the food, coffee, bookstores, and the archaic buildings you head into for lecture. Every corner I saw students with the signature black, white, and maroon colors.

But I was given reminders to the downsides of college life: ignorance and delusions of young adults. I heard it in their conversations as I passed by, and saw it in their expressions when they weren’t glued to their smartphones. Don’t get me wrong, I can be dependent on mine, considering mine rests by my coffee as I write, but this slight generation gap has just been made wider with the digital age taking effect a short time ago. I just rolled my eyes, knowing later a time will come for them to look beyond what they can take from the internet.

As the first day of Autumn came yesterday, it’s confirmed Night would chase the sun away faster than the wind blowing the trees framing the highways. But I like driving at night; there’s an air of calmness, and occasional stillness, even when going seventy miles an hour. Time and speed become fogged. I suppose it’s natural to think this when you declare yourself a traveler. Always wanting to be on the move yet trying to consume and exhaust the exposed space with invisible time.

I got back a little after eight. Had a late supper of veggie pasta and put my cold brew in the fridge the next day. Before popping a squat in my big red chair to watch The Hobbit, I placed my two new additions with the others in my trove on the cast iron shelf.