Monday, August 4, 2014
It Can't Be August Already, Can It?
This busy past week, as time came to turn the calendar page from July to August, I did the following (a partial, not an inclusive list):
Observed Cherry Harvest in Progress
Got in a Bunch of New Books for Young People
Some of them, for young adult readers, were recommended to me. Others, like the Beezus and Ramona books (and others) by Beverly Cleary, were my own personal brain wave. Oh, the bright, happy colors!
Started Reading a New Book
World War I began a hundred years ago this past week. (Not such a happy thought.) It isn't a war that gets a lot of play in bookstores, where customers much more often look to the Civil War or World War II than to the “Great War” (WWI) or even the Revolutionary War. Why is that? Too long ago? But not as long ago as the Civil war. It's a mystery to me.
My own horrified fascination, beginning with Elliott Paul’s The Last Time I Saw Paris, focused for years on the interval between World War I and II. More recently I have found myself reading further back in history, back into the 18th and 19th centuries, but having received a review copy a few days ago of David Laskin’s The Family: A Journey Into the Heart of the Twentieth Century (now out in paperback), I plunged right in and on Thursday morning reached Chapter Eight, “First World War,” coincidentally with the historic anniversary. A review will have to wait until I’ve read the entire book, but the story is gripping, especially with the Eastern Front bisecting the Pale....
Had a Beautiful Friday in Northport
Last Friday morning, after home chores and country dog walk, began in town with the farm market, where I bought bread, croissants, lovely red onions, little striped purple-and-white eggplant, fresh fennel, two kinds of goat cheese, and some irresistible organic beef. It continued in the bookstore, selling out of the second printing of The Ice Caves of Leelanau, and wrapped up with Music in the Park, for which I was a co-sponsor, this time around, of the Claudia Schmidt Funtet. It was a “good day from morning ‘til night,” but I was too busy and relaxed—yes, sometimes both at once!—to photograph the passing hours.
Thought a Lot More About Writing
William Zinsser’s classic On Writing Well: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction is so lively, as well as helpful, that once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop, so I was glad to find it’s still available in paperback. Much of what he writes is applicable for fiction as well as nonfiction. After all, good writing is good writing (as bad is bad), so any writer can learn from good advice about the craft, whatever its genre focus. I’m ordering this for my bookstore, along with books on writing by Eudora Welty, Stephen King, and Anne Lamott. Any other suggestions for books on writing that have been important to you?
Started Reading Another Book
The Family is my morning book. At night, before sleep, I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel, The Signature of All Things. Fiction, history, botany – all in one book. Only thing is, the edition I’m reading is LARGE PRINT, and I’m finding the LARGE PRINT makes me read differently. It’s very strange and more distracting than I’d thought it would be, but I’m persevering.
Took Note of Spotted Knapweed in Bloom
I know, I know! It’s a horrible, nonnative, invasive species, and it doesn’t do our fields and meadows any favors at all. The feeling I most associate with the blooming of this plant, however, is a sense of poignant urgency, coming from my knowledge that we have now reached late summer. After that, of course, comes summer’s end. But before the end come waves of lavender and gold, soft living colors threaded through the green, and my breath catches in my throat. Is this a response to beauty or to the passing of a season that is never long enough?
Invited Four Friends for a Dinner, al Fresco
It can be hard to find time and energy for entertaining during the summer, but in other ways summer is the best time for inviting people, since we don’t have to be crowded into the tiny rooms of our old farmhouse but can stretch and spread out under the black walnut and basswood trees. But the weather was unsettled on Sunday, and as I was driving home dark clouds loomed. I found David in the yard, scanning the sky and making dubious noises about the dinner plan. Those clouds were going to clear off, I told him confidently. The sky cleared for a while, then more dark clouds came; in the end, however, we were able to have our dinner outside under the trees, with just a little breeze and a question of rain in the air but no falling drops.
Baked a Lemon Polenta Pound Cake
This recipe was from The Cake Chronicles, and I think the author said there that she’d gotten it from some other book, but I’m at the bookstore now, and the copies I ordered to sell are still on back-order. Anyway, heavenly smell! Heavenly taste! A bit overdone on top, but the nice lady who brought me a whole quart of fresh-picked black raspberries, after I mentioned that I’d only been able to harvest a handful from my yard – she’s the one who made this dessert a real glory! Now, the next time she comes in, I’ll have to get her name! Nothing like the excitement of raspberries distracting me while bookselling to make me forget the basics. Well, I did say “Thank you,” but that hardly covers it, do you think?
Felt Deep Gratitude
I love our old farmhouse and the surrounding farm neighborhood. I love all of Leelanau Township. I feel so very fortunate to live here, so blessed, so thankful for my life. I’m also feeling grateful for friends old and new, present and distant, young and old. And I can feel that our dog, Sarah, shares all these feelings. Sarah loves her home! She loves company! She loves the yard! She loves her life!