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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Dear Friends, Nearby and Faraway

Moist, misty, marvelous
Saturday morning is here, overcast, softly rainy, still, and with this rain, my freshly mown grass will need mowing again in a couple of days. It might have needed mowing that soon, anyway, of course, since spring is when grass grows most wildly after its long winter sleep, but at least I am saved by the weather from trying to mow this morning the last areas we haven’t gotten to yet. I can use a little break. I am trusting the rain to soak my straw bales this morning, too (on days two, four, and six of their conditioning cycle, they don’t get fertilizer, only water), so that’s another chore not needing to be addressed immediately.

Some of Thursday's progress
The other day at a local coffee shop, the barista asked in the course of our conversation, after I’d admitted having spent the winter in Arizona, “So you come here for the summer?” Come here for the summer? Like a summer person? “No, we live here,” I  said gently, “but some winters we go away.” The way I figure, it’s about one in three winters we’ve been gone, two winters out of three we’ve toughed it out in the farmhouse. One way we rationalized going away is that we generally save money by living somewhere else when the snow is flying in Michigan. One January plow bill of $1,000, added to heating costs, convinced of that. But I will admit that, much as I have loved winters for most of my life, much as I longed for years to go all the way to the Arctic — Michigan winter in those years was not challenging enough to my soul, despite paralyzing blizzards — I’ve reached a point in life where I love being warm. And not just any kind of warm, either: I love being in the sun.

“If you’re not careful, you’ll turn into a wrinkled old tortoise,” the Artist cautioned me. “And what about skin cancer?” he added, to strengthen his case. 

I told him I would be indoors, in the bookstore, all summer while “everyone else” (a slight exaggeration) would be at the beach, and those April days in the high desert were my substitute for summer days at the beach. No water, of course. No waves. No fresh-fishy smell of the Great Lakes. (I love that fresh-fishy smell!) But over the winter I grew to love the smell of dust and cows and was not pining to be anywhere but where I was. 

Home now in Michigan, outdoors yesterday morning, mowing and gardening, I thought at ten o’clock how warm the day would already be back in Cochise County, Arizona. It would be time, if not to seek shade, at least to stop working hard in the sun. One woman who grew up on a ranch told us she and her siblings had been rousted out of bed at three a.m. in the summer. Three o’clock was breakfast time, so they could get their work with the cows done before the heat of the summer day. There are ways around the limitations of climate, adaptations, and not all of them involve fuel oil or electricity. Rather than simply dash between heated houses and heated cars, winter in Michigan makes more sense with a lot of warm clothes, from good boots to earmuffs and mufflers, layers that make outdoor exercise possible. Enjoyable. Exciting! As for the desert, I have never been a fan (really — really, no pun intended!) of air conditioning, and there’s no air conditioning the range! So getting up in the dark to work and napping through the early afternoon makes sense to me. 

I won’t be doing a lot of napping this summer in Michigan. It’s the 25th anniversary year of my little Up North bookstore, and I’ll be focused on business and working every day. Since retirement is not an option for me, I’m fortunate to be still in good health and also to have the kind of work that, like farming, lets me be my own boss, even if “my boss” sometimes works me harder than I would like!

And so, the plan: I’d promised to be open by Memorial Day weekend, “if not sooner,” and so I will be, but I’m also going to have the bookshop open today, Saturday, May 19, with a — here’s the surprise — big one-day sale of everything in stock. I’ve got my flowers planted out front and made my first pass through the shop with broom and dustpan, and it’s too wet a day for you locals to stay home and mow your grass and plant your gardens, so come on down and see me on Waukazoo Street. Everything in stock, including all new books, will be 25% off today!

Thanks for the sidewalk comment, Erika!
One of the challenges of a bookstore, whether the business deals in new books or used or a combination of the two, is inventory control. Dear Prudy Meade of Leelanau Books told me that years ago, when I was just starting out, and I think of her often when I’m pruning my stock. Books have to go out to make way for other books to come in. Hence the periodic purging, and hence today’s sale. 

Faraway friends, I know you won’t be able to drop by in Northport today, but I appreciate having you drop by Books in Northport. It’s important for me to keep in contact with you, too. I live in Michigan. Michigan is my home. But Arizona, where we own no property and have no family, has somehow become my second home, a second heart home, and I miss all of you out there. So welcome to Michigan! You’ll get a good dose of it here on my blog, along with book and bookstore happenings. 

Another cup of coffee. Helen, thank you for the mug with first lines of well-known works of literature! It will keep you in my thoughts every morning!

Reminder to local Leelanau friends: Today only, Saturday, May 19, all books in stock, new and used, 25% off. Rainy days are excellent reading days!

From one bookseller to another: Good morning, Helen!

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