My Sweet Encounter with Mrs. Fig
A few weeks ago, while I was driving to Ojai, I got off the 101 Freeway at Las Posas in Camarillo for a wee little break. In the shopping center there is a Taco Bell, Starbucks, and See's Candy. Be still my heart.
I was in the presence of the Holy Trinity of road food, but then I noticed something even better - a sweet and inviting bookstore - Mrs. Figs' Bookworm.
Oh, blessed books! Of course, I had to go in.
The owner, Mrs. Fig, greeted me and we instantly started chatting - our conversation jumping all over the place whenever my eye caught the cover of a beloved book, or one that was new to me and all sparkly with anticipation.
I was greeting books like I was seeing old classmates at a college reunion. Mrs. Fig was the same. "Lorrie, have you read this? Or this? Follow me. You need to see this one!"
She showed me After the Fall by Dan Santat.
It's the story of what happened to Humpty Dumpty when he decided to get up after he fell off that wall. It's got a surprising ending that I didn't see coming.
Nor did I know, in that moment when Mrs. Fig put After the Fall in my hands, that reading it to my daughter when I got home would be the beginning of a wonderful summer memory. Even though Anna is 15 years old, she loved snuggling with me and being read a picture book. It reminded her of being a little kid again. Ever since that day, I've read her one of our favorite picture books - a treasured chance to go back in time when my girl is so close to leaving the nest.
Mrs. Fig and I kept talking - only interrupted by customers walking through the door whom she greeted with their first names. She told me the story of traveling solo, all the way to Minnesota, to hear one of her favorite authors, Douglas Wood, speak. While I browsed, Mrs. Fig stepped out for a minute to deliver a customer her wrapped purchases at the sandwich shop next door.
Then, Mrs. Fig came up behind me and said, "Lorrie, I want to gift you a book."
"Are you serious?"
I hugged Mrs. Fig, feeling blessed by this chance encounter.
As I walked out, I asked, "Is Mrs. Fig your real name?"
She said, "No." Then, she leaned in close and said it stood for Faith In God.
Later that night, I celebrated the graduation of a dear friend. On the way to the ceremony, I noticed an abandoned book on a bench.
May you greet people by their first names. Find connections with beloved books, and be blessed by chance encounters.