Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Lands of Grand Discoveries

I spent most of today watching the Spain and Portugal Rick Steves' episodes. All I knew about Spain was flamenco, Columbus, and spicy food. I didn't know they were ruled by Moors during the Medieval period. While the rest of Europe was languishing in the Dark Ages, Spain was building giant castle-like fortresses and encouraging philosophy and the arts. They're also the home of tapas, a small plate bar crawl that takes night owls from small bar to small bar for little plates of what amounts to appetizers...which has become popular here as well with Americans seeking smaller portion sizes. My favorite outing was the fair where Rick made friends with a large group who rented a tent for a huge party. Ladies in awesome dresses, fancy dancing, lots of food? Sounds like fun to me!

Portugal had a somewhat similar history. With much of their country on water, the Portuguese are traditionally fishermen and sailors, and they're best remembered today for their major contributions to the discovery of much of South and Latin America in the 1500s and 1600s. I actually knew a little about the infamous Lisbon earthquake that destroyed most of that city in 1755 - it's a major part of the second half of the Broadway opera Candide. I especially loved the little fishing village that reminded me a bit of Cape May during my childhood.

Between episodes, I made a quick run to the Oaklyn Library to volunteer. Though the rain was long-gone, it remained cloudy and was much cooler and windier than yesterday. This wasn't a problem - yesterday was too warm! Today felt more like spring. Many people took advantage of the better temperatures to mow their lawns or mulch their gardens. Almost all of the trees are in bloom now, or at least showing signs of leaves. It's really pretty riding down Manor Avenue, like going through colored Easter eggs.

The Oaklyn Library was a little busier than last week, but still not anywhere near capacity. There wasn't a ton for me to do, either. I mainly organized the children's books. I don't think a lot of people concentrate on the kids' section. It almost always needs something done. I had to dodge city workers doing street cleaning around the library, too.

When I got in, I did some work on the computer, then watched Hello Kitty episodes and had leftovers for lunch before heading off to work. Work wasn't really much of a problem. It was quiet when I came in, steady thereafter. It went quickly for a somewhat slow night, and other than a few annoying customers, I was in and out.

No comments: