Why visit Bayliss?

When you enter Bayliss, population 402, you’ll see no sign announcing a town. No speed zones, no cluster of shops, no factories. Amid the farms and private homes, only one building stands out. The Bayliss library. It’s stood along the road for a century, and this Saturday, June 24, 2017, it is surrounded by a huge outdoor crowd, there to celebrate.

Behind the library are various speakers, including politicians from both major parties. There are major and minor librarians. There are the Chico Area Orchestra in red shirts and black pants, and a Mennonite choir.

Along one side of the building you can buy home-made ice cream, berry pies, hotdogs, and boxes of library books.

On the other side of the library, under sun shades and on a dense lawn backed by a high hedge of trumpet vine, you can find Author Row, and me. Predicted temperature for that day is 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Situated as we are on the lawn, however, we are blessed by natural evaporative cooling. I sit there with my husband at our table and feel a cool breeze, mixed with an occasional warm breath. That means the temperature is in the upper nineties. Comfortable. Merciful.

There’s a lot of activity on the other side of the library as families examine books and eat goodies.

On our side, much less activity visits Author Row. I listen to a plane either dusting crops or planting. The hedge is too high to see it. Not far away, a rooster crows. A sparrow flies worms or insects to its nest in a tree. A hummingbird checks out the red geraniums and yellow chrysanthemums beside the library steps. The speakers in back are too far away to hear, but the excellent band plays catchy tunes from the Big Band Era.

There is an old-fashioned picnic feel among these outdoor activities. I take a few moments to venture inside the library where a table takes up a big part of the interior and displays three cakes in patriotic frosting for the centennial. The cake is free for the eating. And what I take for a standard size dictionary is really a box of bookworms, gummy candy, also free.

With all the library books for sale, I don’t expect to sell anything. I give out bookmarks that show my book covers and how to reach me. I’ve laid a braid from when I had long hair near a novella, the braid I used in its cover. I prop up a drawing of a dragon I used in a science fantasy book cover. So the remarks come.

“Are you the author of all these books?’

My name tag says I am.

‘Is this your hair?”

Yep.

“Oh, I like dragons.”

Me, too.

“I love nature. I have this preying mantis egg case. Do you know when they hatch?”

Summer.

Good conversations. Promises. No sales. Connections with other writers. And a visit to a century-old rural library.

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