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Sunday, August 13, 2017

August Races Along, As Do Busy Days and Nights

Have I ever had a busier, more event-packed “day off”? Friday morning (after housework and dog walk) began with a drive to Traverse City to restock one of my best-selling (metaphorically hay-making) summer books, then a quick turn-around to get to Northport for the weekly farm market and to do errands before heading up to Arcadia Woods for the annual summer luncheon of a group of fiction writer friends. Four leisurely hours of shop talk and catching up over wine and salads and fresh fruit tart. It was refreshing to sit with friends on a rainy day while Grand Traverse Bay lay cool and blue beyond the windows.

I’ll confess that on the way to Traverse City I stopped to photograph fields of sunflowers (see more sunflower photos here), and between Arcadia Woods and Northport I detoured through the little Woolsey Airport parking lot to photograph the old dairy building against stormy skies.

After the extended lunch, I went back to the bookstore to give Bruce a much-needed break. He had been deluged with book customers all day, nonstop, and after his break the two of us carried on until closing time. (One of the children's book sections had been so depleted by shoppers that I had to move things around on Saturday morning to fill the shelves again.)

At five o'clock on Friday I hurried home to put a quick supper on the table before leaving with a friend to drive down to Holy Rosary in Isadore for a world-class chamber music concert. 

Isadore is literally nothing more than a country crossroads. What would its original Polish farmer settlers think to hear Mozart played with such panache so close to their fields? On the way home, we only had to dodge one deer in the road, and it was dark, so I wasn’t going very fast.

I closed my eyes for a minute or two, and suddenly it was Saturday, the day of the annual Northport dog parade. The twenty-first annual dog parade in Northport, mind you, and also the first time an agility competition has followed the parade. A red-letter day! David and Sarah and I were only spectators, but we enjoyed ourselves immensely. David thought it must have been the biggest dog parade ever, and Sarah wagged her tail throughout the whole event. I’m told the agility competition was also a great success.

Not sharp focus but great costume look...

and many attempted photos turn out worse.
We love little Rudy!!!
Parade participant greets spectator Sarah

And now another dog parade is over for a whole ’nother year. Hard to believe. 

Time is racing. Coneflowers and tall native grasses sway in my meadow, Eagle Highway is bordered in chicory blue, and modest roadside ditches are beautiful now with fresh cattails, Joe-Pyeweed blossoms, and – although it is a terribly invasive alien we do not want to encourage – the bright spires of purple loosestrife. August vacationers are cramming in their last weeks of fun before school starts again. 

The daughter of an old friend came by the bookstore, and my heart warmed to see in her face the features of her mother. It made me feel old but happy, too. When my friend died, it broke my heart to think I would never see her again, so I love seeing her in her daughter’s face. The other daughter has a new novel out, and I want to read it but don’t want to be rushed when I do. I want time to slow down, but no, it doesn’t. Time is racing.

I hear an autumn sound and look up to see a V of Canada geese overhead. No, not yet! Where did the sandhill cranes go with their young ones? Gone already? Thistle seeds are ripening, to the joy of the goldfinches looping along the driveway, and the branches of my little apple trees are heavy with fruit. There will be more dried apples this winter, I think with a happy sigh. But no, let’s not think too much of winter yet....

It’s still summer, still “the season,” and yet time is racing. I try to keep up with dishes and laundry, along with working seven days a week, and between us, David and I keep the grass mowed. “How do we do it?” he asks and then answers his own question: “A little at a time.” 

Not only have I fallen behind with my reading as time races by, but I’ve even fallen behind with writing about the books I’ve read. For instance, Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debby Irving. I commented on Facebook that this is probably one of the most important books I’ve ever read, and yet I’ll probably have to re-read it if I want to compose any kind of meaningful and persuasive essay. I’d love to have a discussion with other people about it – say, if the library book group read it in 2018 or if “Trinity Reads” chose it as their focal book of the coming year.

The coming year? There are still months left in 2017, I remind myself, and I can’t let September 13 pass without some special observance of the date. It will be the 10th anniversary of my first blog post, the 10th birthday of Books in Northport. Whoever thought I would keep at this for ten years? But whoever thought, back in 1993, that I might celebrate a quarter-century of bookselling in 2018?

The other evening, musing on time’s fleet passage, the disappearance of old friends, the way successive generations are coming along now at what seems like breakneck speed, and the difficulty of making time for remaining friends to reunite, I got out Mardi Link’s Drummond Girls to re-read. Drummond Girls is one of those accessible memoirs that can seem almost fluffy at first but then surprises by deepening as the chapters go by, much as, in the book, the women’s friendships and confidence and other relationships deepen as they mature.

Even as time races by and I am challenged to find enough reading time, I find myself picking up books I’ve already read – because for me re-reading any book is like a visit with an old friend. (If I didn’t enjoy it the first time, there would never be a second.) Never to re-read? I can’t imagine that. It would be like saying, "I’ve had lunch with those friends once, so why get together again?" Or, "I saw the dog parade last year, and once was enough!" When love and laughter and poignant insight are on offer, who would ever say no?


Dawn said...

And people ask me what people DO way up there in the north! :) I know, I know...the summer is speeding away at breakneck speed. I am trying to hold on to it, but it slips like jello through my fingers. Mid August. What happened? I say this every year, but every year it seems I say it sooner. Love the dog parade, wish, as always that I had been there to see it in person. Katie says she was happy to be napping at home. Have a wonderful couple more weeks of 'the season' and then hopefully you can take a deep breath and catch up on everything else.

P. J. Grath said...

Well, Dawn, this year the September calendar seems to be filling up fast, so it looks like we won't be doing any extended vacationing, but slowing down a bit, taking a day or two off now and then -- that much we should be able to manage. I remember a man from Grand Rapids commenting many years ago that life in Northport seemed to go at a slower pace than downstate, and I knew it was because he was on vacation when in Northport. When I'm in the U.P., life slows down for me, but it's still racing along for friends making a living up there. Maybe you can come up for dog parade next year. Katie would love it!