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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Careening Down a Steep Mountain Road!

(We both took off our glasses!)

Everyone asks me questions I never get used to and never know how to answer: “How’s your summer been?” I usually reply that it’s been a blur, but most of the time questioners push harder, asking, “How’s business been? Have sales been good? Have you sold a lot of books?” A man we know in a nearby town answers such questions the same way, season after season: “Best year ever!” He says that regardless of his sales, whereas I often say, truthfully, that I don't take my business's temperature on a daily basis and only compare one year's figures to another's in January. Until then, I'm working as hard as I can, doing everything I know how to do, and I can't do more than that.

But now -- The end of August is almost upon us! September is coming fast!

This morning I told a friend that by late August I feel like I’m careening down a steep mountain road without brakes. There are welcome peaceful stretches when I can slow down and breathe and even look around to take in the view, like our Monday evening dinner at the home of a friend -- 

Our dinner trays ready to be carried to the deck

Lake Michigan from deck

South Fox, courtesy of the miracle of ZOOM!


North Manitou and sun on water

varnished Petoskey stone surface

South Manitou growing dark
diners at dusk

South Fox grows dark

Manitou afterglow

-- but more often reunions with friends tend to be brief and rushed. My friend Linda, up at the head of today’s post, popped up out of nowhere on Monday. Surprise! She had her wits about her and had her husband take pictures of the two of us together, and it’s wonderful when a familiar face appears out of the past! But then – because I am, after all, at work -- on the heels of the hugs comes a box of business (i.e., books), necessitating a quick change of gears, quickly followed by a long-distance phone call (I wonder -- do young people ever think to describe phone calls as “long-distance” any more?) and another sudden shift, then a UPS delivery, questions about the dog, requests for specific books, and maybe a crying baby or people needing directions or wanting a restaurant recommendation, etc., etc. One hairpin turn after another! No, it is not – ever! -- boring!

Even quiet stretches of stolen reading time are hardly soporific. As fictional bookseller Roger Mifflin put it,
“Printer's ink has been running a race against gunpowder these many, many years. Ink is handicapped, in a way, because you can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries.”
 Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookshop
As book after book comes to hand (much switching of gears and hairpin turns here, too), I find novels and history alike filled with tales of human desires and greed and work and effort and love and failure and success, so much that reading is sometimes almost too stimulating to bear for too long, and it’s been a while since I came to the last page of any given book. (Well, it’s been maybe three days.) Instead lately I’ve been book-hopping, going from Tony Judt’s Socialism in Provence to Karen Brzys’s Superior Land and the Story of Grand Marais, Michigan to A Beautiful, Cruel Country, Eva Antonia Wilbur-Cruce’s memoirs of an Arizona childhood, all rife with personal and political controversy and occasional violence, human nature being what it perennially is.

Goldfinch lure
Yet there are, too, moments of calm beauty – in the natural world, as well as in the pages of books. Along the driveway goldfinches flit in the sunlight, and sandhill cranes fly overhead, announcing their presence with a quiet, purring rattle, stroking through the air as if the sky were a placid sea.

September is coming, almost here.... Important to make time for a morning mini-vacation now and again.

Sittin' on the dock, feet in cool water -- ahhhh!

As September comes ever nearer, it’s getting to be apple time. There are wild apples –

apples on my small homestead trees –

and apples in the book we will be launching a week from Saturday in Northport. I’ve never done a bookstore event on Labor Day weekend, but we won’t have the book sooner, and after Labor Day the apple growers will be busy in their orchards and farmstand (and David and I will need a little break after our nonstop summer). So please be with us, if at all possible, on Saturday evening, September 3, beginning at 7 p.m. If you aren’t a local, you can come and mix with the locals, for sure, at the evening event!


Deborah said...

How I would love to be there mixing with the locals! Love the post and photos - thank you!

Kathy in Oz said...

Nice toe nails!