Still no snow here! Sigh! General disappointment is balanced by relief at not having to shovel or plow and by thoughts of fuel supplies (wood, oil, propane) stretching further into the future, due to present unseasonably warm weather. The first guided snowshoe hike at Sleeping Bear is scheduled for December 29, and the official site says you can borrow snowshoes if you don’t have your own, but they don’t say what will happen if there is no snow. Surely we will have snow by then, right?
Even without snow, however, we don’t lack reasons and ways to be cozy indoors. Hike in the rain? I don’t think so! Much better to be inside, warm and dry, curled up with a good book! Were you too busy earlier in the year to read Ellen Airgood’s South of Superior or Bonnie Jo Campbell’s Once Upon a River? These are a couple of strong Michigan novels you’ll want to read again and again once you’ve given yourself the initial pleasure. Have you yet to discover John Mitchell’s Grand Traverse: The Civil War Era, an engaging look at what was happening in our own part of the country while battles raged elsewhere? Or have you thus far postponed taking the imaginary 1922 road trip from Chicago to the Straits of Mackinac in Vintage Views of the West Michigan Pike? Now might be just the time to make that armchair travel drive.
There are exciting new looks at history beyond the boundaries of our state, too. The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt, and The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, by David McCullough, are a couple I look forward to exploring.
Simple, happy holiday stories to share with children are perfect for this time of year. Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes and The Night Before Christmas are both a lot of fun.
Perennial favorites to rediscover (holidays are a time to indulge yourself) include Wind in the Willows; The Phantom Tollbooth; The Little Prince; and The Secret Garden. Are you ever too old for these books? (That is a rhetorical question, and I hope no one gets the wrong answer.)
Books, as any bookseller would remind you, are gifts that can be opened again and again. Bill Coohon of Northport shared a wonderful article with me the other day from his Popular Science magazine that put the matter in even warmer terms. Lawrence Weschler, in his article entitled “And Yet...And Yet,” writes of books this way:
They have a spine, which in turn implies a pair of outstretched arms and an enfolding embrace, or at the very least a dance.
My bedtime reading for the last few nights has been The Spell of the Sensuous, by David Abram, a prose joining of wild nature experience to phenomenology, all in the service of ecological commitment, by an author who is both a philosopher and a sleight-of-hand artist. Here is an example of what results from his point of view:
From the magician’s, or the phenomenologist’s, perspective, that which we call imagination is from the first an attribute of the senses themselves; imagination is not a separate mental faculty (as we so often assume) but is rather the way the senses themselves have of throwing themselves beyond what is immediately given, in order to make tentative contact with the other sides of things that we do not sense directly, with the hidden of invisible aspets of the sensible.
Too philosophical for you? Nonetheless, you are doing it all the time, and the sensuous feel of a book in your hands, opening to invite you into another world, those lines of type presenting themselves to your imagination not as symbols on paper but as mental images and voices—oh, this is magic for any day of the year!