The Warmth of the Y and Agatha’s Trip

I’ve really warmed up to my new routine at the Holyoke Y. Entering the building and seeing mothers and tots and then entering the fitness center, that’s filled with people of all ages is heartening. I used to go to a gym in Northampton where everyone was either bulging with muscles or a harsh-looking lesbian. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…it’s just that at the Y there are no attitudes, and I think I have the Christian in the name to thank for that.

When I get up on that elliptical I finally get a chance to read books. Unlike at home where the distractions of the laptop, the iTouch, the television and my grandchildren steer me away from the printed page, here I can concentrate and enjoy just a few of the many books that are generously bestowed on me by my pal Kent. (Kent made a grand entrance the other day, debarking into the waves from a seaplane at a beach on and island in the Great Barrier Reef. I told him it was very Howard Hughes of him).

I’ve begun enjoying The 8:55 to Baghdad, which follows the trail of a semi-retired Agatha Christy who loved Iraq and other places in the Middle East. Andrew Eames, a British writer, has a wonderful way of describing places and people. He describes Ljublijana, Slovenia as a “pocket-sized little city, in a pleasant pocket-sized little land. The River Ljubljanica threads right through the cobbled centre, a lurid green ribbon perpetually bandaged by little bridges. At its heart the city is reminiscent of Saltzburg: cobbled, tea-shoppy, with flurries of art nouveau and overlooked by a castle on an outcrop of rock.”