School is a short ten minute drive away now, but for the last two years, I had an hour drive to and from school. I had to traverse the 403 and 401 from Hamilton to Woodstock which is probably the straightest and most boring stretch of highway on the planet. People often pitied me for my long drive, but I actually grew to love zipping down that highway and now find myself missing those long drives. In fact, I enjoyed the drives to and from school so much, that I would sometimes go around the block once or twice just to prolong the drive. Why?
Audio books. I was addicted to audio books. My favourite little library in Paris had an aisle full of them, and I made full use. My drives to school would fly by as I flew through chapter after chapter. Sometimes I would get to school and not really remember a single detail about the drive. Sometimes that scared me.
My favourite audio books by far were Jan Karon’s Mitford books. The Mitford series is about a minister named Father Timothy who serves Lord’s Chapel in the small Mitford community. Mitford seems like an idyllic little town in the foothills of North Carolina, but it quickly becomes evident that Mitford is not immune to the human condition of depravity.
Father Tim lives a quiet bachelor life but his life quickly changes when a dog named Barnabas, who is the “size of a Buick”, starts following Father Tim. Next a small boy named Dooley Barlowe shows up one day at Father Tim’s office and announces that he needs to ‘take a dump’. Father Tim let’s him use his bathroom, and the story of Dooley’s downtrodden life quickly unravels. Father Tim eventually takes Dooley in and becomes a father.
The cast of Mitford characters are quite colourful – from his opinionated secretary Emma Garrett, his storied parishioner Miss Saddie Baxter, the joke-telling Uncle Billy, to the staid doctor Hoppy Harper.
The Mitford series contains 9 books and two novels – that’s a couple of month’s worth of audio books. By the time I got to about book 4, I would catch myself praying for the characters in the books. That’s when I decided that it would be best to take a little break from the Mitford books for a couple of weeks.
And then there were Peter Mayle’s books on Provence, France. Mayle and his wife, who were from London, England decided to retire in Provence. Peter Mayle decided to write about his experiences on the ground – tasting the food, travelling around the countryside, meeting some colourful Frenchmen, and many other cultural discoveries. The books were very funny and extremely interesting. My stomach would start drowning out the audio book when he started describing all of the French restaurants he would frequent.
When I would reach my destination – and it didn’t matter where it was – it was always disappointing to get out of the car after hearing about sunny, beautiful Provence. I decided it would be best to take a little break from his books too.
Don’t get me wrong though – I am thankful and do enjoy being close to school, but I do miss the Paris Library and my storied journeys.