When A Notebook Falls Apart

Recently I wrote about how I like my notebooks battered and ink-stained. I really do. But sometimes, a notebook can get so battered that it begins to fall apart. We spent the long Labor Day weekend at the beach, and while there, the current Field Notes notebook I carried began to come apart at the seams. Below you can see where the cover started to split from the rest of the notebook.

What happens when a notebook comes apart like this? What do I do? It depends on how much of the notebook I have filled. If the notebook still has a lot of blank pages in it, I will repair the notebook with some Scotch tape and continue to use it. If, however, there are only a few blank pages left, I do what any regular notebook user would do, I retire the current notebook and pull out the backup.

I always carry a backup notebook, for just this reason. (Also, because I never know when I will end up filling the one I am carrying.) I don’t mean to say that I have two notebooks on my person at all times, but in my backpack, which goes on trips with me, I carry a spare. In this case, when we returned to our hotel room, I put the damaged notebook (which had about 4 blank pages left) into my backpack and pulled out the spare:

In this case, the spare happened to be one of the new Field Notes Trailhead editions, and this was the first time I’d used one. (I selected the Adirondack trail since I live on the east coast.) This served me well for the rest of our time at the beach. In a way, I think it was something of a lucky break (no pun intended): scanning the first four pages of the new notebooks, I find that I jotted down 9 blog post ideas. Was it the notebook, or my time off at the beach that produced so many ideas in such a short span?

When I returned home, I went through the usual routine of closing out a notebook. First, I repaired the notebook with Scotch tape, a low-tech solution that works fine, considering that now that the notebook in question is no longer a “working” notebook, but a reference document. You can kind of see where I taped it in the images below.

Next, I updated my Index to my Field Notes notebooks. This is just a simple index of notebook number, which I write on the back of a new notebook (see the image above right, for example), and the dates that the notebook spans.

One “feature” I’ve added to my index is that I’ve noted which notebooks I’ve filled during the pandemic. My thought was that when I was much older, or the kids were older, it might be interesting to go back and remind ourselves what life was like during the pandemic. I’m looking forward to drawing the second horizontal blue line that will represent the practical end to the pandemic. It can’t come too soon.

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