Saturday, June 25, 2011
The photo above was taken in early morning in early June, which explains all the empty parking spaces. We’re much busier now. In fact, mid-June felt like July in a business sense, I'm happy to say (and I'm also happy that the weather was not yet midsummer broiling), but I decided to open today’s post with this photo because I like the light coming over Grand Traverse Bay and always enjoy the view from the top of Nagonaba Street. If you came into town this way, you’d be coming by the back streets, and down at the corner by the Filling Station you’d turn right to reach Dog Ears Books.
“This is the beating heart of Northport!” one of my fans exclaimed the other day as he walked in the door with a big, gusty, satisfied sigh, happy to be here. Welcome as the compliment was, I couldn’t help thinking I knew better, and I sighed, too, but with less satisfaction. My sigh was, in fact, a bit wistful. There are some people—many of them summer visitors--for whom my bookstore is important, but it’s hardly the community hub, as the long "off-season" makes painfully clear.
Then I got to thinking further about about the question. What would you say is the “heart” of our community or yours or of any other? In Northport, some people identify Barb’s Bakery, their daily social contact place, as the community heart or hub, and for some it is. Yet there are other locals who never sit down to gossip at the coffee table at Barb’s.
Our small but beautiful township library, where Deb Stannard, the librarian, has a gift for making everyone feel welcome, must be the heart of Northport for many, while for others the school or one of our five churches would be the most important place, the center of social and/or spiritual and/or intellectual life.
I posed the question of Northport’s heart to a former NPS teacher, someone whose family has been in the area for a long, long time, confiding in her that at times I feel like a real part of the community, and other times not at all. She shook her head and gave this answer:
“The heart of the community is the lives you touch,” she said, “and you touch people’s lives!”
Her words touched me. I was grateful to her for saying that. As an individual in business in a small village, it was good to hear, but her formulation is good, I realized later, in a more general way, too, because it means that any community will have many hearts. What would it mean, after all, for our town or any other if there were only one beating heart and that heart stopped? No one is indispensable, but we can all be important to others by giving of ourselves.
Community reminder: June is the third month of the second quarter of the year, so Tom’s receipts for the Northport Promise scholarship program need to get into Promise boxes by the end of the month.