June 06, 2019

Owl Pen Books

Owl Pen Books
By John R. Greenwood

What is beautiful, yet covered in dirt?
"Riddle Road"
Day three of
retirement found me rumbling down an old dirt road in my pickup. The sign said Riddle Road—it’s across the river in Washington County, and it brought me to used-book-nirvana.
Owl Pen Books is a therapeutic blanket of knowledge and history, wrapped in old books and musty air, all encased in barn-red buildings, draped in a canopy of century-old maples, and surrounded by moss-covered stonewalls— a virtual, “Book Heaven.” I knew it was out there somewhere, and my heart knew it had to be a special place. I was not disappointed. I regret that it took me so long to get there. My search for yet another copy of Jack Lewis’ 1960s book “The Hudson River,” was what finally brought me there. An internet search in December revealed Owl Pen Books possessed a copy among its 100,000 plus book inventory. 

Edie's Checkout Counter
The problem with my discovery was, it was the dead of winter, and the Owl Pen Book Barns are closed until mud season. As much as I wanted another copy of my all time favorite book, I wanted to buy it in person, not via UPS. An email request to hold the book was as easy as pie, and the kind voice of owner Edie Brown assured me the book would still be here whenever I was able to make my pilgrimage. Talk about worth the wait. 

The mother of all book stores...
When you head to Riddle Road this summer, be sure to use your GPS or a map from the early 1900s because this treasure is buried deep. I’ve read some other online reviews of columnists who have written about their visit to Owl Pen. They all, including this piece, focus a large part of their observation on how much joy they derived just getting there. Even a well-traveled adventurer should plan to stop at the Greenwich or Argyle Stewart’s for a handful of Slim Jim’s and a few cold bottles of Saratoga Water as back up, on the off chance you end up in Hartford. Either way, you will pass through some of the most calming farm vistas known to man. 

Real. Live. Classics.
When the friendly voice on my Garmin signaled my destination was just yards away, I saw a sign that said, “Owl Pen Parking” and it was pointing to a small field surrounded by fresh-leaved trees full of chirping birds. There was one lone Prius parked randomly between the invisible lines of a make-believe parking lot. There was no paved walk just a worn dirt path leading to the main chicken-coop/book-barn. This place has history. Born in 1960 by Barbara Probst, and now run by Edie Brown and Hank Howard. Owl Pen oozes a sense of nostalgia and what-will-I-find-next-mystery. I was on a bit of a time crunch, so today’s visit was more exploratory than full day campout so when it came to cruising the shelves I barely scratched the surface. What I can relay is how this place made me feel. It wasn’t just shelves of books; it was a like a Thoreau retreat. There is peaceful calm that permeates the entire property. The never-ending rain of this spring had everything growing a deep green and to its full potential. If I hadn’t retired just a few days earlier, I would have asked for a job application. 

No Need To Knock
I can’t wait to return to Owl Pen on my motorcycle. This time I will pack a lunch, a fresh camera battery, and a pad and pen. I won’t need my Garmin or a watch, and I will be smiling when I get there. I will be book happy when I leave. 

When you go, be sure to tell Edie that Raining Iguanas sent you, My hope is; she smiles in return. 

If you aren't grabbing your keys yet, wait until you see the rest of these scenes from Owl Pen Books 

This is my Disney. 

"Can I wrap this to go?"

"View with a room" 

"Help Fight TV--Buy a Book" - Owl Pen Books

Where it all started

"Wood you miss this shot?"

"The End"

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