Baltimore was a much lovelier city than I had anticipated from watching all those episodes of THE WIRE. (And don't you just bet Baltimorians hate that? That 90% of the country's views of them were formed from watching a police TV drama?)
There were charming brick buildings and lovely brownstones with marble steps. And everything was much greener than I had imagined, with gorgeous dark pink rhododendron bushes. I also saw my first peony in the wild, on an actual bush instead of in a vase or bouquet. I adore those feathery, pale pink petals.
Ellen the Librarian was an incredible hostess and both schools were full of amazing students and dedicated teachers. It was aWeSoMe to get to connect with all those new readers!
Also? Ellen has the most adorable six year old daughter. If I were given to snatching children (which I am not) I would be sorely tempted to snatch up Miss Lilly and keep her for my own. She was a charmer. Six going on thirty two and with a knock-dead fashion sense. Loved her a lot. Her older brother, Dan, was an avid Theo fan and it was great fun to talk about the books with him. (He even hand sold a couple at the book signing!)
Then I got on the train for D.C.
So introverts, there is good news: The Acela from Baltimore to DC has a QUIET car. Awesome. It is as quiet as a library. There is even a sign that declares it the Quiet Care and forbids any but the most hushed voices and absolutely NO cell phones.
The bad news? I stumbled into it by accident, bumping into seats, juggling too much luggage, saying "excuse me" and accidentally dropping my jacket and causing one poor man to trip (thus necessitating a fervent apology) and generally being a Boarding The Quiet Car DON'T. In my defense, I've only ridden on a train twice, and the ones in California don't have quiet cars.
The ride from Baltimore to DC was lovely (and quiet!) and the whole time I kept remembering some books of my mother's childhood (Hi Dixie!) called The Little Maid books. I think there was a little maid of Vermont, and basically all of the thirteen colonies, and I was just so aware that I was riding through the exact same countryside that the Little Maid had inhabited.
Seriously, there are few things that influence us as much as our childhood reading material.