Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Saturday morning in Durham

As the semester winds to a close, I find myself constantly working.  I awake each day planning the hours I can use to write papers and prep presentations.  I'm actually relatively on top of things, so I'm not terribly stressed out, but paper-writing will hang over my head as a constant obligation for the next three weeks or so.  Which is why it's important to also take time to step away from the work and away from campus.  The farmer's market on Saturday mornings has become one of my husband's and my favorite activities, a place to get away from our academic selves and enjoy time together choosing delicious food for the week, a chance to feel connected to our community outside the limits of the university.  Now that it's spring, a lot of new vegetables have come into season, and I'm absolutely delighted by the beets, brussels sprouts, asparagus, and strawberries.  We're also planning to start growing herbs in our window boxes, so one of these weekends, we'll come home with a tray full of little herb plants.  Furthermore, there's absolutely wonderful breakfast to be had downtown - if not from the bakers who sell at the farmer's market or the food trucks nearby, from one of the many coffee shops or bakeries downtown.

Today was a particularly wonderful morning in downtown Durham.  Not only did we come home with fresh strawberries (I see a strawberry pie in my near future), asparagus, tomatoes, and potatoes, we also came home with books!  The Durham Public Library is having its semi-annual sale this weekend.  You may recall my excitement last semester when I found the sale quite unexpectedly and brought home a number of Viragos.  This time, I knew about the sale in advance (and may have been counting down the days...but hey, when you're an overworked graduate student, you have to have something non-academic to look forward to!)  I even persuaded my husband to come along, and he enjoyed browsing the religion and sociology sections.  As usual, the music and history sections yielded nothing useful for my research, but the fiction section is always bound to have something interesting.

Disappointingly, there were almost no Viragos to be had.  No green spines jumped off the shelf.  Happily, there were a couple of black Viragos.  Two of these were Antonia White's Frost in May, which I already own.  The other, E.H. Young's The Misses Mallett, promised a Jane Austen-style comedy about English spinsters, so it promptly jumped into my bag.  Since adoring Wives and Daughters, I've been trying to pick up additional books by Elizabeth Gaskell, so this copy of Ruth similarly caught my eye.  And then, I branched out a little, and bought Russian novels for the first time.  Between the many people recommending Anna Karenina to me lately - the recent film must have put it more in the public eye - and a dear friend who is currently in Moscow researching her dissertation on the history of tea culture in Russia, I've been meaning to put aside my fear of the enormous Russian novels.  Once I finish Hugo's Les Miserables, my current bedside table book, I will start either War and Peace or Anna Karenina.  Finally, the nondescript brown book is a copy of Cassell's Latin dictionary.  It's awfully foolish to be a scholar of sacred music but unable to do my own Latin translations, so I'm taking two Latin classes this summer.  This edition is older, so it doesn't have the handy tabs to help you jump from letter to letter, but I'm fairly sure the content is the same...after all, Latin hasn't changed that much in recent years!


  1. I think you'll enjoy The Misses Mallett. I've read it twice and liked it even better the second time; but then, E. H. Young has never disappointed me. If you haven't read her William, you really must. It's wonderful.

    1. I'm glad to hear that it's a good one! I haven't read anything else by her, but if I like this book, I'll definitely have to look up her others.