Today I awoke to several inches of snow and a day off; I work weekends this month, so Tuesday is my Sunday. I had errands to run yesterday and work to finish last night, but this morning I woke up practically giddy, because there was snow on the rooftops outside the window, a can of pumpkin in the cupboard, and a paperback calling my name. I mean, the only thing that could possibly make pumpkin waffles better is snow and a book, right?
Why is that?
Far be it from me to question to coziness of waffles and books. I just find it really interesting how this whole specific set of cultural practices has grown up around reading books in certain contexts or in certain ways. We pair books with environments the way restaurants pair wine with entrees. A high-seas epic makes a fine companion when you’re curled up in an armchair by the fire. A stack of picture books sounds great in the library on a rainy afternoon. Three Times Lucky is the perfect porch read on a hot summer night. The Federalist turns a train trip into an adventure. You may not agree with my specific choices any more than you agree with pairing a Riesling with clam chowder (okay, full disclosure here, I know absolutely nothing about either wine or seafood), but we probably agree on the general idea: in some places it’s not just nice to read books; it’s nice to read books there.
(Google tells me that a Riesling is actually a great wine for clam chowder, so PACK UP AND GO HOME, FOLKS, I AM APPARENTLY A WINE GENIUS AND WILL NOW BE CHANGING CAREERS.)
…Oh, look, we’re all still here.
We like to talk about how reading transports us to other worlds and immerses us in new ideas; and it definitely does both of those things. It’s funny, then, how we’ve put this extra layer on top of it, this idea of the value-added experience. Reading itself becomes almost irrelevant in the face of a room full of books, tea, and armchairs. Whole social media feeds are devoted to the beauty of book aesthetics. We want to be transported, but first we’d like our lives to feel like there’s no need for transportation at all.
Which I guess is a quite reasonable and human thing to hope for, and so long as the hope and the cozy mornings don’t take the place of doing something for the world we care about, I’ll remain quite excited about fresh snow and a book.
(It’s The Lanahan Readings in the American Polity, for anyone who tried to decipher the page.)
Now who wants pumpkin waffles? Because this is slightly more than a one-person recipe.