Search This Blog

Monday, November 30, 2009

Last Day in November

(Last day of firearm deer season, too.) Where did it go? Where they all go, but it was a good month in northern Michigan, with mild temperatures and lots of sunny days that made life easier than it could otherwise have been and gave us lots of reasons to greet each other with “Beautiful Day!” “Gorgeous!” Now the temperatures have dropped, snow clouds are moving in, and there was a dusting of snow on house and barn roofs this morning.

Saturday’s warmer weather was easy on the village band as they gathered in front of the big tree on Nagonaba Street, and when the lights came on the tree, it was splendid! Everyone had a pretty stress-free walk or drive home after the open houses, too. Still, I think the first week in December, when we held these events in 2007 and 2008, worked better. More people go elsewhere for the Thanksgiving holiday than come to Northport for it, for one thing, and there’s also a post-holiday fatigue factor. (No, I refuse to discuss Friday!) December may be cold, a blizzard may arrive, but that’s part of the excitement, and most people are eager to brave the elements to make merry in the cold. And doesn’t Thanksgiving deserve to be kept separate? I love that it’s a national holiday, something all of us share. Post-holiday activity: shopping spree or relaxing with leftovers? What’s your opinion?

That said, I still have signed copies of Mardi Link’s and Barry Marsh’s books, along with Claudia Goudschaal’s, and these are first-come, first-serve. There are beautiful 2010 calendars at Dog Ears (Ken Scott & Thad Koza), and Jim Harrison’s brand-new book, The Farmer’s Daughter, has also arrived. And, of course, lots, lots more....

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Today's the Day!

The sun was already high and bright when Sarah and I went to run around Peterson Park before picking up the mail, buying a new string of tree lights, picking up more reception supplies and opening the bookstore..

In town the sky was bluer than blue, the air warm and balmy, people shedding layers, having put on more sweaters and coats that they day called for.

Things are all set for the authors coming this afternoon--though people have already started purchasing books and asking to have them signed for later pickup, in case they can't get back between 4 and 6, so what if we run out? I guess that would not be a worst-case scenario, would it?

And later in the day, as the sky darkens, the tree lights will shine and sparkle all the more. Wish you all could be here with us.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Thoughts and Wishes

For husband and home, family and friends, city and country, for dog and books and art and music, for woods, orchards and wilderness, lakes and hills, for road trips and new places and coming home again, for work and rest and talk and silence, for apple blossoms and bottle gentians, for dragonflies and spiders, horses and chickens, for bread and cheese and apples and chocolate, cinnamon and curry and maple syrup, for sunshine, rain, fog, clouds and starry nights, soft lights at dusk, warm blankets at night, for falling asleep and dreaming and waking to another day, for memory and anticipation, joy and acceptance, for men and women of goodwill with loving hearts and open minds, for holidays that give me time to reflect on what’s important—Thank you, thank you, thank you!

To my readers, I wish you love and laughter, gratitude, joy and peace. And if you are traveling, safe travels!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism), by Frank Schaeffer.

Frank Schaeffer is the son of Francis and Edith Schaeffer and grew up in an evangelical-fundamentalist environment. He was well on his way to being one of the pop stars of the Republican-fundamentalist coalition movement when he “began the process of escaping” both far right-wing politics and strict, literalist and fundamentalist religion. He did not, however, become an atheist. In fact, one of the claims of this book (he has written others, both fiction and nonfiction) is that what he calls the New Atheists—what I would call militant-scientific atheists (with an accent on ‘militant’)—and the evangelical fundamentalists (not all ‘evangelicals’ are fundamentalist or literal in their interpretation of the Bible) have a lot in common: both groups are certain that they are right and everyone else is wrong; both groups are intolerant of those who do not share their views; both groups engage in “conversations” with those of other views only for the sake of converting them, “listening” to heretics and apostates only insofar as to find the best way of effecting a conversion.

Full disclosure: as soon as I heard on NPR the introduction to this author and his book, before the interview even began, I said to David, “That’s me!” I resist and am always annoyed by efforts to convert me, whether to atheism or to some particular brand of religion. To the atheists I want to say, “What’s in it for you? I’m not against science, but science deals with facts, not values, and there’s more to living than having facts.” I have said these things to atheists on occasion, but their convictions are rock-hard and impervious to argument. I understand them, more or less: I just find their views narrow and rigid, more a posture of rebellion and defense than scientific objectivity. They seem stuck in their undergraduate years. Religious proselytizers, on the other hand, downright amaze me. To them I would say (if I didn’t try instead to avoid such exchanges entirely), “You believe in God (or so you say), and yet you think God can be contained in a single creed, God’s ways and purposes comprehended by mortal creatures? What hubris! I don’t care what people say they believe: I only care how they live their lives.”

And now along comes Frank Schaeffer’s book, expressing my feelings with his much wider experiences and in his much more potent language.
The New Atheists, like their evangelical/fundamentalist counterparts, aren’t on an intellectual journey. They are already at their destination, all i’s dotted and all t’s crossed. Everything they encounter is run through a fixed ideological grid. To them there are the good guys—smart atheists leaving appropriate comments on their websites—and the bad guys—dumb religious believers who must be answered with the correct arguments handily provided in the lists of debate points found on Dawkins’s and other atheists’ websites on how to deal with the other.

Schaeffer knows the evangelical, fundamentalist, literalist religious right from the inside, having grown up in his parents’ religious community in Switzerland:
To be a worker in L’Abri, you had not only to be saved, but the right kind of saved. Mom and Dad would talk about this or that person being “our kind of person” or “real L’Abri material.”

There is a lot of humor in this book. One funny chapter comes near the beginning, where the author asks why New Atheist Richard Dawkins opposes faith with lapel pins. (I always wonder why he has so much time to spend on opposing faith rather than doing science and why he has to focus on the United States rather than on the United Kingdom.) Apparently Dawkins offers a “Scarlet A” lapel pin for five dollars on his website (along with a “God Delusion” t-shirt for $20), and the purpose of it is to “start conversations.” People will ask about it, presumably, and then look out! Schaeffer is bemused and recalls:
When I was a young child, and to my eternal mortification, Mom used to carry something called the Gospel Walnut. It was a hollowed-out actual walnut shell filled with ribbons of different colors sewn together into one thin, shoestring-like, yard-long band.... You cranked it out with a little handle attached to the walnut shell, and the ribbon would seem to emerge from the nut magically. The point of doing this was to invite questions from strangers.... In other words, both the Gospel Walnut and the Scarlet A pin offer a chance to witness to potential converts.

Patience With God is not memoir, but there is a lot of Frank Schaeffer’s life in it, from his childhood in Switzerland to his schooling in England to his present-day happiness with a marriage that has lasted since he was 17 years old and has given him, along with a soul mate, children and grandchildren. His granddaughter Lucy appears early and often in the book. Childhood was a time of being closed off from the world of unbelievers or those with the “wrong” religious views (including his wife’s Roman Catholic parents) and of being neglected by his parents, who put their religious work before the work of raising (or even educating) their children. The boarding school he attended in England taught him tolerance for others and kindness to them—not as lessons to be memorized but through the example of the couple who ran the school. This was a way of living rather than a confession of belief. He also learned to read and write and spell at last.

Though he “escaped” fundamentalism, Frank Schaeffer has not rejected religion. He converted to the Greek Orthodox faith, drawn to and comforted by its ritual and mystery and a refreshing lack of emphasis on theology. The point for him, as well as for others who “don’t like religion or atheism” is not, after all, to find “The Answer,” not to find certainty, not to become necessarily a Unitarian, a Quaker, Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Buddhist or anything else in particular. The point is to find a way that has room for religious mystery and independent thinking both, a way to embrace paradox, a way to be able to say “Thank you!” and also ask, “Why?”

I found this book a breath of fresh air.


Late-breaking P.S.
The Leelanau Independent Women for Democratic Action have launched a “Shop Local First” campaign. Their flier begins by observing, “Small town merchants set the tone for our towns. If we want our town to thrive we need to support their businesses.” They list eight reasons for supporting local business, which I won’t copy in this post (I’ve already argued my own case), but if you’re interested in a “Shop Local First” bumper sticker you can get one at Dog Ears Books for one dollar. Cheaper than a cuppa coffee! May I note, self-servingly, that proceeds from bumper sticker sales go to LIWDA to pay their costs and thus do not count as a bookstore purchase? I’d love to sell you a book (or more than one) and a bumper sticker, but if I had to choose one or the other, the book sale would trump.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Recently Near Home

The wide landscape images today are from last Friday, as afternoon merged into evening. The closeup shots of warm brown pine needles (pinestraw) on a paved driveway (not ours!) were taken Saturday morning and show how even "civilized" settings are softened by unexpected natural patterns. These were formed by a combination of the forces of gravity, wind and water.

I'm trying something here that I haven't tried before, so we'll see if it works. The mutual friend (hers and ours) who made the slideshow for Claudia's memorial has sent me the code, and I'm going to try to upload it here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tarrying Alongside

Being “in the moment” is a Zen ideal become pop cliché, easier to assimilate (though infinitely harder to put into practice) than our usual human ways of being, or, as Heidegger put the matter, “being-in-the-world.” The philosopher Martin Heidegger identified two of those human ways as “leaping ahead” and “tarrying alongside.” At the risk of egregious oversimplification, I will paraphrase Heidegger’s view by saying that, because human beings have projects and goals, we are always leaping ahead into the future. We are, in fact, “thrown” into it, whether we will or no. To live completely in the moment (does “the moment” even exist?) would mean to live without projects, plans, goals—without imagination!--and while it’s wonderful on occasion to still the fretting, squirrel-caging mind and simply breathe, it’s difficult to imagine that anyone would choose to give up visions of the future, even if that were possible.

Another aspect of being human is that the dead remain with us for as long as we remember them. We tarry alongside them, feel their presence, dream of them, and continue in imagination our relationships with them. Again, while some memories are painful, would we really want to live without memories altogether? With that rhetorical question I am circling around to my destination, which is that while I find Heidegger’s insights on leaping-ahead and tarrying-alongside both constitutive of humanity and very poetic, I think his own insights argue against his claim that each of us tries to hide from the fact of our own ultimate death. It isn’t that we hide from the knowledge of death: it’s just that human knowledge cannot encompass death. These are thoughts I've had before, but they are very much with me these days, especially today, which was the occasion of Claudia Goudschaal's memorial service.

I’m going to make a little digression here, so anyone who wants to skip over it can simply scroll down....

Let me bring in a scary word here: epistemology. Introductory undergraduate classes call it theory of knowledge, so as not to scare off the undergrads, but epistemology textbooks are still among the most boring on earth, and thinking about why this is so can be heartbreaking. What is knowledge? How do we know anything? What kinds of things can we know, and what are the limits of knowledge? These burning questions have been made boring by 20th-century philosophy’s jealousy of science. Oh, let us become technical! Let us have obscure jargon and sleek formulae! Let us quantify and formulate and symbolize! Basically, however, despite renegade movements off on the fringes, most people if asked would assent to the pedestrian proposition that knowledge is “justified true belief.” (1) I believe something. (2) What I believe is true. (3) I have good reasons for believing it true. Bingo! One problem often cited is the case where we believe something true without having sufficient justification. This is generally seen as not really knowing.

But okay, let’s flip the problem of knowledge around in ways that epistemology texts don’t usually do. What about the case where we know something is true—and we have all kinds of evidence and no doubt whatsoever—but we can’t make ourselves believe it? Believing without knowing is a problem philosophy has recognized for years. But what about knowing without believing? ...Sometimes, it’s true, we do refuse belief and defend ourselves against truth we do not wish to acknowledge (echo here of “The Music Man”), but other times it seems more as if the truth refuses to fit into our hearts and minds, no matter how hard we try to accommodate it. That, I believe, is our relationship to death, and all the dead bodies in the world are not evidence sufficient to counter the living spirits that persist in our memories, dreams and reflections.

What about you? Would you have it any other way?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Warm November Light

Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post, as well as to all who didn’t comment but read it and took it to heart. As a reward to all of us (yes, me, too), today’s post will be mostly pictures, with only a few words.

Often we think of November in cold terms. The temperature is usually colder than it has been this year, but I don’t mean just that. Is it an exaggeration to say that we think of November as a little heartless? Bright autumn leaves are swept away by cruel winds and driving rain, leaving the woods paradoxically dark and bare at the same time, and many’s the day we have to make a special effort to make ourselves “open the door and walk outside” (quiz question: what is my reference here?), as well as to find color in the landscape and reasons for cheerfulness in our own hearts. At the end of the month we have the warmth of Thanksgiving, and that helps a lot.

But when a November morning is lit by the low, raking sun, and the skies behind that brightly lit world are heavy with dark clouds—oh, then the land looks warm! The forest floor covered with dead brown leaves, bare branches of fruit trees glowing rosy, red barns shouting proudly that they are still in service, soft yellow willows and bright yellow road signs--all these gave us, this morning in northern Leelanau County, reasons to smile and sigh.

I was lucky to be out in the light, to have errands in Suttons Bay and Lake Leelanau, giving me a wonderful excuse to drive some different roads for a change. And when I stopped at the Enterprise office to arrange for an ad in next week’s paper (for our book signings on Saturday), fortune did me another good turn, sending me back to Northport with Ken Scott calendars for the bookstore. Because, as you all know, photographer Ken Scott brings color to every month of the year.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Please Read This!

I’ll try not to go on and on and on and on, but there’s no way I can squeeze this into a pithy paragraph or two, so please be patient. Bear with me. This is important--important to me, yes, but it may be more important to you, too. More important than you realize.

The other day at our local library book discussion group (only my second time attending, but the book under discussion was one I’d urged the group to read, Conrad Richter’s The Trees, which I’m pleased to say they enjoyed so much that they voted to read the rest of the trilogy before spring), someone recommended purchasing a certain book online, from the large online behemoth seller of books and everything else that shall here remain unnamed, because why should I give it free publicity? She had gotten a copy, she said, for only nine dollars. “Sorry!” she said next, turning directly to me and making that half-smiling, half-sad face people use when they say this kind of thing in my presence, which is way more often than I find comfortable. But this time, instead of freezing or burning (or both: a physical freeze followed by a slow burn!), I let the words in my head come right out of my mouth: “Well, those dollars will never come back to Northport, but you can send your money wherever you want.” And then we moved on. I had no desire to embarrass or scold, and I don’t want to scold now or get on a resentful high horse, but I am (finally) realizing that people don’t know why “Buy local” is important, so I need to start speaking up and educating. Because it’s a lot more than the survival of my little bookstore that hangs in the balance.


First, imagine this—and I’ll start with my bookstore because this is my blog and because I’m here at Dog Ears Books in Northport day after day, wondering how to get more local people in the door to buy—imagine that you live in Northport or Omena and you stop by Dog Ears to do a little holiday gift shopping. Let’s say you spend fifty dollars. Where will that money go? A chunk of it, naturally, goes to publishers and book distributors, but another chunk will go to my landlord, who pays property taxes that support our K-12 school. I’ll take a few dollars to the Filling Station to put gas in my tank and to Tom’s Market for groceries: that’s a couple more local businesses that pay property taxes and support our school (and library!), as well as providing local employment.

The beautiful new bookcases in our spacious Waukazoo Street location were made by local craftsperson Mark Voight. Deb and Tom Wetherbee designed the Dog Ears Books website. Bruce Viger of the Eat Spot and Drive-Thru Bar-B-Q made the cookies for our recent book launch reception on March 30. A lot of supplies for the bookstore come from Northport Ace Hardware and Tom’s Market. It’s true I don’t have paid staff, but in my own small and indirect way, when you think about it (which is what I’m asking you to do), I am providing local jobs. So when you spend money at my small business, you’re contributing to the financial health of the entire community, school and library included. The same is true when you buy groceries at Tom’s, gas at Scott’s, paint at Ace, yarn at Dolls and More, etc., etc. One friend tells me that, on average, a dollar spent locally circulates seven times in its local community before leaving. I wouldn’t lay odds on the magic number 7, as population size, commercial health and diversity of businesses must factor in somehow, but--.

--Now imagine a contrasting scenario. Imagine that instead of buying books on Waukazoo Street you order them online from way out by the Pacific Ocean. How many of those dollars sent outside Michigan, do you think, will ever find their way back to our state, let alone to our local community? What percentage of that purchase will support Northport School, the Leelanau Township Library, the Leelanau Foundation, the Northport Area Heritage Association, etc., etc.?

(I usually try to avoid “etc.” but really, do you want to read through long lists? I didn’t think so.)

Local businesses are constantly asked to donate to community causes, and those of us in business are eager to do so. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t love this place. What’s hard for me (and I know it’s hard for other business owners) is to have someone walk in the door, hat in hand, who has never visited before to see what my business is all about. (I often wonder at organizations that don’t vet their volunteer solicitors more carefully. You’d think, especially in a town as small as ours, that groups would want to have people asking for contributions be regular customers of the businesses they’re asked to visit.) And it’s even harder to have to say no when any other answer would be a bad business decision, because the bottom line for me is that my business has to pay its own expenses, buy household groceries, and let me go to the dentist and doctor and take my dog to the vet before it can contribute to nonprofit organizations, however worthy the cause.

There’s a saying, “What goes around, comes around.” It means that, sooner or later, you’ll get whatever it is you dish out, e.g., if you hurt people’s reputations by gossiping about them, you shouldn’t be surprised if the same thing happens to you. The phrase suggests something a little different to me. Doing business in a small town trying to keep a lot of charitable, civic, cultural and educational balls up in the air, I often think, “If it don’t come around, it can’t go around!” I’d rather be a turnip than a stone, but turnips need rain to grow, if you catch my drift.

Well, I woke up early this morning with all this churning around in my head, and then I got a call from a woman who works down in Glen Arbor at Barbara Siepker’s bookshop, the Cottage Bookstore. Seems a group is getting together to produce a bumper sticker about buying locally (“It makes cents”), and they want me, that is, Dog Ears Books, to be the Northport outlet for this one-dollar item. What a coincidence! You bet! My bookstore will be closed January through March--so as not to go in the financial hole; “The trick to a seasonal business is to keep it seasonal,” said my landlord of many years who had operated a lot of seasonal businesses himself—but Jill thought the big push with the bumper stickers would be the first month they’re available, so I told her I’m on board.

Are you on board? Please think about it long and hard.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Looking for Color

More and more trees are bare, but a few clutch remaining foliage. A patch of cherry orchard gold glows against leafless dark woods near our home, holding winter at bay.

In Northport this morning, wrinkled crabapples against a bright blue sky sounded another colorful note.

At day's end, the sky over Lake Michigan was subtle, and as darkness fell I turned to the magic words of James Joyce to color my evening.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Guest Book Review: EX LIBRIS

Ex Libris, by Anne Fadiman. Penguin, 1998. Hdbk. Nonfiction, Biography.

This small volume (129 pages) contains the reminiscences of a middle-aged mother of two, describing her own growing up in a famous literary family, surrounded by books and immersed in all facets of the publishing business. The book is subtitled “The Common Reader,” a term borrowed from Virginia Woolf, who originally defined the common reader as “a person who reads not as a critic or scholar, but for his own pleasure in an attempt to create for himself some kind of whole.” Fadiman obviously felt the phrase described her own life with books.

Ex Libris is handily divided into chapters of seven or eight pages in length, which is perfect for reading in bed at night. (At least, I have found that eight pages is about all I can get through before falling asleep.) Each chapter covers a different topic. Some examples are: Is it OK to mark your place in a book by leaving it open and face-down? Is it OK to write notes in a book? How much can a writer borrow from other writers before it becomes plagiarism? There’s even a chapter providing instructions for two people moving from separate accommodation into a single apartment on how to merge their libraries into one without precipitating a major battle.

While the author uses memories from her earlier years to illustrate the influence of her family on her reading habits, this book can’t really be categorized as biography or even memoir. The emphasis, rather, is on each individual chapter topic about books, and the author gathers a variety of views and comments from friends and relatives on that topic before adding the experiences from her own life. These family experiences are, however, fondly remembered by the author and make meeting this famous family particularly enjoyable, especially for those who like “books on books. “

- Bruce Balas for Dog Ears Books

(Thank you again, Bruce. Will you please come home from Spain now? The bookstore misses you!)

Saturday, November 14, 2009


We were very fortunate to have Claudia Goudschaal for a friend and neighbor. Knowing that she had health issues with uncertain outcomes motivated Claudia to put her years of research between covers in Destination Leelanau, and I was honored to be able to host her book launch in Northport two weeks ago.

Claudia's visit to the bookstore this past Monday while our friend Thad Koza was visiting was a fortuitous encounter, as the two had met on previous occasions and shared a deep love of sailing vessels. It was good to be together on a sunny, balmy November day. We lingered outside on the sidewalk next to her car. Never one to shirk or be idle, on Wednesday Claudia worked at her volunteer job at the Leelanau County Historical Museum in Leland, as usual. She faced her surgery on Thursday without fear or indecision, without misgivings or regrets, ready for whatever came. "I'd like to have more time, but I've had eighty good years, so whatever happens will be okay."

Claudia Goudschaal was one of those wondrous, rare individuals who lived every day of her life, generously and fully. We will all miss her very, very much. Our southern exposure will always, to me, be "Claudia's hill" and "Claudia's woods," and I wish she were still there.

Friday, November 13, 2009

An Evening Without Any Big Ideas, New or Old

We are waiting to hear news of two friends in the hospital in Traverse City, both post-surgical, and I’m distracting myself with Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks. I found this Charlevoix stone (favosites) far from the beach, close to the bed of geologically much newer rocks (following), the latter so close to being soil soil that they are easily split into layers by freezing, thawing and percussion. Any of these, the fossil rock or the sharp-split layers, would have been polished smooth by waves had they been resting on the Lake Michigan shore.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More on Memoir

(Images in this post have been altered from the original photographs taken two days ago.)

“When I was a child I thought we lived at the end of the world.”

That line appears early in Alfred Kazin’s memoir, A Walker in the City, a book that can make a person nostalgic for someone else’s childhood. Not because Kazin idealizes the East Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville where he grew up. He does not do that at all. It was a place, in childhood, that he couldn’t wait to escape and to which, in manhood, he would never dream of returning. Still he begins his literary remembrance by saying, “Every time I go back to Brownsville it is as if I had never been away.” Familiar aspects of Brownsville seem to comfort him (though he never says so) even as they repel the sophisticated writer who has made for himself the life in “the city” that he always wanted.
Actually, I did not go very far; it was enough that I could leave Brownsville. Yet as I walk those familiarly choked streets at dusk and see the old women sitting in front of the tenements, past and present become each other’s faces; I am back where I began.

I turned hungrily last night to Kazin’s memoir. As a reader, I felt somewhat in the position of a chef coming off a long week’s work and dying for a cheeseburger. The last two books I had just finished reading were (1) a dense and difficult (though rewarding) work of political philosophy (Fear: The History of a Political Idea) and (2) a brilliantly written but emotionally grim new collection of short stories (American Salvage), by the author of Q Road, a novel I read recently and loved. So now I wanted something that wouldn’t make demands on me, and while A Walker in the City is hardly the literary equivalent of a cheeseburger its pages did open welcomingly. I would not have to work to form an opinion, since my love for this book established itself when I first read it, and I would not have to take notes or research background. Escape reading? Why not?

Then I started thinking again about memoir and its perennial appeal and how it is easier on a reader than fiction, in a way. Strangely, though someone’s real life, memoir lacks the immediate force of a short story or novel. We are not there, as in fiction, but only remembering (with the author) having been there. Time has passed, leaving room for reflection and reevaluation, so that the memoirist’s perspective, and therefore the reader’s, has the advantage of hindsight added to experience. Even in true stories of terrible childhoods or tragic events, the reader knows that whatever happened is now safely in the past. When we read a novel, on the other hand, it feels as if the events are taking place as we encounter them.

Well, this is a good case, Pamela, but what about that book Moscow, Farewell, by George Feifer? Don’t you remember how you kept reading more and more slowly, not wanting to come to the end, afraid of how it would “turn out,” even as you knew the events had already taken place? And weren’t you there on every page of that memoir, just as if it had been a novel? Maybe the comfort I am finding in Alfred Kazin’s writing is more in the fact of re-reading than in the particular genre. And now I’ve argued myself out of my own thesis with only one counter-example-- enough literary speculation for one day!

Picture Potluck Again

Today will be my potluck of picture leftovers, a few images that deserve their turn, though they don't fit together as a story. The brightly painted cat at the Old Art School Building in Leland, for example, caught my fancy earlier in the year, but somehow I never got around to posting any pictures of it. Never did work the horse below into a post over the summer, either. I love the flirty way she was whisking her tail around. I know, I know, just keeping flies from landing....

There are always so many things to see on any given day, so many stories to be followed, that a lot of them don't make the blog. This is a kind of downtown traffic that always brings a smile to my face:

One more autumn foliage picture? While 2009 was not the most colorful Leelanau fall on record, we did enjoy some lovely days and beautiful scenes.

That ordinary-looking rock there? Look closer. It holds a patch of Hexagonaria (Petoskey stone) fossil. Everyone in this neck of the woods has a bowl of Petoskey stones around the house somewhere. One friend of mine has them around the foundation of her house.

Sarah has a way of leaning on her "elbow" that makes her look almost like a human passenger in the car. Or a chimp, at the very least.

Old wooden chairs look so good in the landscape that there's no need to break them up for firewood. Some are visible to all in mowed yards, while others wait in the woods, unseen, until a walker comes upon them.

Now, time for me to hit the books again....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Life in the Round

The form of this beautiful David Austin rose is almost that of a globe, petals held tight to circumference rather than loosely furled. This is one of Claudia’s roses, posted today for friends in the hospital, soldiers overseas, and all veterans of the confusing, complicated, sometimes joyful, sometimes tragic ground of all experience and effort we call Life.

The natural world seeks the perfection of globes and circles, and when we feel our affinity to it all, our membership in the natural world, we too return to circles.