Seattle is a fertile environment. Plants will grow on anything that stays still for too long. I’ve cleaned sprouts out from the crevices around the trunk of my car, and I have a friend who found a small carpet of moss growing under his windshield wipers.
The upsides of this include the lush greenery everywhere and the vegetable garden that delivers buckets of yummy tomatoes despite my black thumb. The downsides include things like mold, which is a real issue in many buildings. Today, I learned it is a problem in my home.
Unfortunately, the way I found out was by pulling a copy of Steven King’s On Writing from my bookshelf and uncovering thriving colonies of at least three different types of mold on the bottom.
The mold devoured most of one shelf of my favorite writing craft and reference books. Writing Down the Bones was another victim, and I had to perform some minor surgery on Bird by Bird to save it. I also lost nearly my entire population of books on spiders.* I wiped some diluted bleach along the sides of the few survivors, but only time will tell if I caught the infection in time to save them.
I know I can go out and buy another copy of each of the victims, and I probably will replace most of them. That did not change the panic, the fear, and the helpless rage I felt when I saw those awful brown and gray spots on the paper. I love living in Seattle, but in that moment I wanted nothing more than to leave, to pile my precious books in my car and drive off to a place where the air doesn’t eat the things you love. Somewhere like the desert, or maybe the Moon.
It’s strange and wonderful how books become old friends. I am sorry to lose these, even if it’s only for now. I want to whisper to the others on my shelves: “I’m so sorry. I promise to care for you better. It won’t happen again!”
*I wrote my first NaNoWriMo novel on sentient spiders. I don’t know if my husband ever fully recovered from this experience. It’s possible that he won’t mourn the passing of these particular books, particularly the full-color, 1000X magnified photos.