Yesterday, I went to Pam Riley Osborn’s house to discuss the Charles M. Bailey Public Library and the upcoming expansion. (Pam was the children’s librarian when we first moved to Winthrop, and she is on the expansion committee.) First, a little about Pam’s house.
Pam lives in an old house where the big, light-filled kitchen overlooks the yard as well as the driveway, which has a line of trees, bare in mid-March but nevertheless beautiful in their starkness. Tom Sturtevant, a friend to both of us, once remarked that in this area, Pam’s kitchen is the best place to be, and he certainly got that right. Pam is not only lively and literate, as befits a children’s librarian, but she also has a keen artistic sensibility, which is evident both inside and out. In the house—along with the light, some wonderful old furniture, and gleaming wood floors—are little collections of objects—mostly found, I think—that line her many window sills. These collections include shells filled with rocks and an array of metal objects, small and rusted, and arranged so artfully that they could be in a museum exhibit. Yet the effect is not that of a museum. Far from it. Pam’s house is warm and cozy and welcoming.
In her kitchen, in a corner hutch, is a picture of the outside of her house when she first bought it many years ago. Then, it was sturdy but drab. However, Pam’s artistic eye saw what could be done with this house. The kitchen was bumped out, a porch was added, and so were peaked dormers. Somehow, these additions come together to make the house look even more authentic, as though they had once been there and were just waiting to be rebuilt. Lucky old house to have Pam as an owner.
Linda McKee, another library supporter, also joined us, and we talked and talked and talked, literally for hours. Along with the library and the vital role it plays as the center of Winthrop’s community, we talked about books—Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, and many others as well.
I asked Linda, “Do you think people are either in the Austen camp or the Brontë camp but seldom in both?”
She nodded. “Yes, I do.”
And so do I.
Families were discussed, and all three of us were concerned about how hard it is nowadays for young people to find good jobs.
Along with the tea, Pam served Edith’s Tea Biscuits, which were oh-so-good and a lot like scones. She got the recipe in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, and she agreed to share it with me, even giving me permission to post it on this blog.
If you make these tea biscuits, picture eating them in a bright kitchen in an old house with a wood cookstove. Picture three women, drinking tea and talking about libraries and books. Picture the time of year to be Mid-March when the mud was deep, the sap was running, and the day was bright.