Look at this week’s Northern Express cover, and you’ll see Bob Butz. Inside is a piece by Anne Stanton, who interviewed Bob on his upcoming book Going Out Green (due out in July) that tells you how to plan your own environmentally sensitive burial. Sounds fascinating, eh? Until we have that book in hand, we’re happy to recommend another by Butz, a widely published outdoor writer for many years, An Uncrowded Place: The delights and dilemmas of life Up North and a young man’s search for home, a book of essays that will ring a chord with many a would-be Northerner, as well as those of us already here. I can’t help choosing ”Fishing with the Boy” as one of my personal favorites from this book. First of all, I remember my son’s first fish, caught in a little roadside lake between Delton and Prairieville in Barry County, Michigan. Secondly, Bob’s son’s first fish was caught at the millpond in Northport during the annual Scott Brow Fishing Derby, the event one local man recalled from his youth as “better’n Christmas.”
A week or so ago I was reading the essay “Mining for Morels,” but today I find myself turning to “Gray Days.” In that piece Butz reminisces about days in the fall, “leading the hoary edge of winter.” We’re months away from hunting season right now, but there’s still something to what he says about overcast skies:
Gray days put me in a mood to try drifting through the woods without a sound, to perhaps for a moment feel as light as a nuthatch perched on the tip of an arrow and, maybe, for a little while pretending to be not altogether of this earth. Gray days remind me of how easy it is to disappear for a while and move with a stillness of body and mind that seems effortless when the forest is rapt with silence, when inside you feel enveloped by the clouds.