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Friday, February 17, 2012

I Was “Laid Up” a While, But Now I’m Back



First there was a twisted ankle that kept me off my feet as much as possible, also keeping me indoors. Sigh! Then there was the "technical difficulty" (failure to recharge) necessitating a total of three round trips to Traverse City. Good parts of all this bad stuff were getting more reading done, writing several letters and notes to friends, and having meals cooked and served to me, but I missed time outdoors with Sarah and my virtual connections. And photographs! Taking, reviewing, posting! So I have a lot of catching up to do.

This morning I got new posts up on “A Shot in the Light” and “Home Ground,” my photo and outdoor nature meditation blogs, respectively. Sarah’s cuteness (in case anyone missed it) served here on “Books in Northport.” She is more than filler, after all: she is, for many, the heart and soul of my bookstore, and certainly she is my constant companion here, as everywhere else. But what direction to take now as I get back into the groove? Maybe a partial review of what people are ordering these days at Dog Ears Books? Sure, why not?

Looking at my recent special order lists for new books, I see that they fall into a few unsurprising categories: fiction; food/health; and history/politics.

Under the fiction heading, here are some of the titles requested by customers since the first of the year: Betraya;, The Tenderness of Wolves; Dead Man’s Brother; and The Tiger’s Wife. In the food and health category, representative titles include Weightwatchers’ One Pot Cookbook; The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook; Healing Spices; and The Patient’s Checklist.  Among requested historical and political titles were In the Garden of the Beasts; The World America Made; and What It Is Like to Go to War.

A few people have ordered children’s books, including Extra Yarn and Brother Sun, Sister Moon, which was so charming that I put another copy on my next order to have on hand for someone else. I also ordered both hardcover and paperback 50th anniversary edition copies of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

Oh, and then there are the nature and nature drawing books I’ve written about before and ordered for store stock, hoping others will be enchanted by some of the same things that enchant me. And last but not least, by any means, let me mention the book I have presently in my new “Highlight” feature in the right-hand column, The Heirloom Life Gardener, by Jane and Emilee Gettle, cofounders of the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. It’s food, it’s farming, it’s nature, it’s gardening! Sections on individual vegetables feature, besides growing advice, seed-saving tips and how this vegetable fits into meals. It’s a book and pursuit for the rest of your life! That’s how I feel about it, anyway.

Now, since I’ve made that smooth segue from books to gardening, let me close today’s post with more of the wisdom of Wendell Berry:
...In a healthy community, people will be richer in their neighbors, in neighborhood, in the health and pleasure of neighborhood, than in their bank accounts. It is better, therefore, even if the cost is greater, to buy near at hand than to buy at a distance. It is better to buy from a small, privately owned local store than from a chain store. It is better to buy a good product than a bad one. Don’t buy anything you don’t need. Do as much as you can for yourself. If you cannot do something for yourself, see if you have a neighbor who can do it for you. Do everything you can to see that your money stays as long as possible in your local community. If you have money to invest, try to invest it locally, both to help the local community and to keep from helping the larger economy that is destroying local communities....
 -      Well Berry, “Conservation Is Good Work” (1991)
We still have a local school and preschool in Northport. We have a hardware store and grocery store, a post office, bank, library, several churches, and many, many other businesses and services. Soon spring will be here, with the return of our local farm market, a sign both of dedicated new growers and a responsive local public. We are so, so fortunate! Becoming and remaining fortunate is in our hands to a greater extent than we sometimes think!


This message comes to you from your local neighborhood bookstore!


7 comments:

BlakeHerz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dawn said...

Agree we need to realize how much of our own future is in our hands and not take the easy way out by figuring one person can't make a difference in what will happen. Personally I can't wait for spring and the farmer's market, though I am not convinced our big farmer's market is entirely local. I'm a bit suspicious, will have to do more research.

P. J. Grath said...

Ours really are local. I know that in some big city ones, there are vendors who've made long trips to bring back loads, but if they were regulars and I knew where their produce came from I'd probably still buy--if it looked good and if what they had wasn't being harvested locally.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to see the concept of the farmers market growing, it was very missed when I moved to the northwoods.

P. J. Grath said...

Ours wasn't much the first couple of years, but it has really come into its own now and is DYNAMITE. Very high-quality produce sold by friendly local people. What more could we ask?

Helen said...

The Wendell Berry quote is absolutely perfect! Some of it would make a perfect "signature" on a bookseller's correspondence...

P. J. Grath said...

Helen, I've been reading a book of Berry's essays, the collection entitled SEX, ECONOMY, FREEDOM & COMMUNITY, the title that of the final essay in the volume. Saying anything substantive about it will require an entire separate post, but one point he makes is that typical American wrangling over public vs. private generally leaves out community, which would be the (so to speak) mediating term. Perhaps in most places in our country today, it an empty term. "A community, unlike a public, has to do first of all with belonging...."

It isn't always easy. In fact, it's rarely easy, save for those few, graceful, beautiful moments that come from time to time and make it all worthwhile. The reason it isn't easy is because we all have and always will have our differences. But recognizing that we're all in it together--that's what can save us, if anything can.

More later from Wendell Berry, I promise!