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Sometimes…well, often…I forget how nice it is to be read to. Not just by a recorded audiobook, but by a live person…in a dark room…close to bedtime.

Last night, as the sun set in October reds, fifty-some people, including the nine readers, crowded into the Oddfellow’s Mausoleum to enjoy this age-old tradition. Sitting in folding chairs, even on the floor, we encircled the podium topped with an oil lamp and were read to. We listened to all types of stories fit for the season…there were stories of changelings and horned devils, of frightened children and murders, of strange witches and bewitched men…all read, some even performed, by local writers. But it wasn’t frightening…it was comforting, soothing, almost cozy. It’s true the Mausoleum has no electricity and we sat listening with just the flickering of a dozen candles, and that bright oil lamp illuminating the readers’ faces and holding us all in its circle. But it was a warm evening and the alabaster marble held the day’s heat. A feeling of festivity and peace permeated the hundred year-old building…as if the souls laid to rest all around us were grateful for an evening of company and storytelling.

Mausoleum sepia

Window Urn

Reading

I’m glad I went. It was the first event to put me in the spirit of the season…to make that otherworld, just beyond a thin veil this time of year, feel tantalizingly close. It also reminded me of the tradition I’m participating in as I prepare to write my own story to be read aloud.

Now, I’m about to sit down and write a letter. This is something else that doesn’t happen enough, but my cousin and I have made a pact. Even though we text all the time, for the next year we will handwrite and send a letter, via post, to each other, each month. As my pen scratches over the surface of the paper, as I seal the envelope and affix the stamp, as I walk the thick folds of paper to the mailbox, I think of the all women of letters who came before me, who were scholars and authors in their own right. I’m grateful to my cousin, a modern woman with modern tastes, but also a heart for tradition.

After that…well, does anyone want to read to me?

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