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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Allow Me to Recommend a Book For Your Consideration



I have never asked a bookseller for a book recommendation. Disclosing desires and expectations to a stranger whose only connection to me is, in abstract, the book, seems too much like Catholic confession, if only a more intellectualized version of it. Dear bookseller, I would like to read a novel about the banal pursuit of carnal desire, which ultimately brings unhappiness to the ones who pursue it, and to everyone else around them. A novel about a couple trying to rid themselves of each other, and at the same time trying to save the little tribe they have so carefully, lovingly, and painstakingly created. They are desperate and confused, dear bookseller; don’t judge them. I need a novel about two people who simply stop understanding each other…. 
- Valerie Luiselli, Lost Children Archive

As a bookseller myself, I am perhaps oddly cautious about recommending books. I absolutely never tell anyone they should or, worse — God forbid! must read something, but my reticence goes further than that. Even when directly asked for to make a recommendation, I counter gently with a general question of my own, such as, “What kind of books do you like to read?” Because there’s no point in recommending a tome on history or economics to someone looking for light fiction or vice versa. And I cannot think of a single book, no matter how extraordinarily wonderful, that would do as a recommendation for anyone and everyone. Often I’ll go so far as to say that I enjoyed or even loved a particular book and to suggest that the person looking for something to read might also enjoy or even love it because, giving a few of my reasons, which might or not be reasons for that other person, but I never insist. There is no better way, I believe, to put someone off a book by trying to trap or shame them into reading it. Years ago, a man visiting my bookstore who learned I had not, at that time, yet read Kristin Lavransdatter told me, in these very words, actually (I kid you not!) shaking his finger as he scolded, “You should be ashamed of yourself!” Rather than rushing to mend this fault in my character, I avoided reading the book for years, seeing that horrible man’s scolding face whenever the title came up in conversation or a copy of the novel came, briefly, into my hands. 

No, no, there are books I wish more people would read, but I refuse to present reading them as a duty.

I will, however, if asked — and occasionally without being asked, as I do in today’s post — recommend a book for someone’s consideration on the basis of my own fascination with it. So if your interests and reading tastes preferences are similar to mine, you might be moved to try it, and if it’s not up your alley at all, for whatever reason, you’ve saved time by finding that out, too. Although I’m not sure, now that I think about that…. Maybe if it sounds like something you wouldn’t care for, I’ve somehow misrepresented it? I certainly hope that won’t be the case today!

…We order four hamburgers and four pink lemonades and spread our map out on the table while we wait for the food. We follow yellow and red highway lines with the tips of our index fingers, like a troupe of gypsies reading an enormous open palm. We look into our past and future: a departure, a change, long life, short life, hard circumstances, here you will head south, here you will encounter doubt and uncertainty, a crossroads ahead.

Brief digression: Years ago I sat at a table in a bar with a group of other graduate students in philosophy, and one of the group, a student from another country (the young man from Spain or Otto from Finland?) asked innocently, of a song playing on the jukebox just then, what "City of New Orleans" was about. Well, ask eight philosophers what anything in this world is about and prepare yourself for a perfect storm of disputation! 

I think of that evening and the philosophical discussion that ensued because Lost Children Archive could be characterized in so many ways. In the most basic and simple sense, it is the story of a road trip, as a couple married for four years, his young son, and her even younger daughter set out on a cross-country road trip from New York to the American Southwest. They travel first in a southerly direction, then in South Carolina begin their westward trek. Their progress is unhurried, as they take time to sight-see along the way. In the car they listen to audiobooks and music but always remain attuned to towns and landscapes they are passing through, parts of the country they have never seen before. Road trip. That’s the simplest, shortest way to describe the book.

Of course, there’s much, much more to it.

Right at the beginning we learn that the man and woman share an unusual career. She is a sound “documentarian” (her word), he a “documentarist” (his word). Both record and assemble documentary soundscapes. They first met on a project in New York, where their assignment was to go about the city and record as many of the world’s spoken languages as they could find. The different names they give to what they do, however, indicate differences in both background experience and what kind of projects they want to take on in the future, differences that put their future as a couple in doubt. Will they remain together or part to go in different directions? That is one of the relationship questions posed by the novel.

At Chiricahua National Monument
Their travel destination is one the man has chosen for a new project he has conceived on “echoes” of the Apaches who lived in the Chiricahua Mountains in southeast Arizona, and the woman has realized that she can expand new work she began with immigrant children in New York to an exploration of the situation of undocumented children along the border with Mexico. In that way, their separate projects can be pursued in parallel, at least for a while, once the family reaches the Southwest. As they makes its way toward what they mistakenly believe to be Fort Still, Oklahoma — learning of their error only when they arrive, which seems strange, because wouldn’t they have seen it written as Fort Sill on their maps? Yet we often see what we expect to see rather than what is before our eyes — the woman begins to see a way in which the separate projects may actually overlap, at least for her. As the man tells the children about the Indian Removal Act,
I don’t interrupt his story to say so out loud, but the word “removal” is still used today as a euphemism for “deportation.” I read somewhere, though I don’t remember where, that removal is to deportation what sex is to rape. When an “illegal” immigrant is deported nowadays, he or she is, in written history, “removed.” I take my recorder from the glove compartment and start recording my husband, without him or anyone noticing. His stories are not directly linked to the piece I’m working on, but the more I listen to the stories he tells about this country’s past, the more it seems like he’s talking about the present. 

art on border wall at Douglas, AZ
And so, the novel is also about American history and American current events, Apache history, history of the Western frontier (and the myth of the frontier and the vanished frontier), about U.S.-Mexican history, the current situation on the border, immigration, and more. With makers of sound documentaries at its center, documents and documentation and archives form another general theme of the book, specific needed documents also being what the immigrant children, at risk of being “removed,” too often lack. And it is about what makes families and what holds them together. There are also two very specific "lost children," two girls, undocumented, that the woman has been asked by their mother to look for in New Mexico or Arizona. 

The main characters are referred to simply as “the man,” “the woman,” “the boy,” and “the girl” throughout the novel. We are never given their names. The woman tells the story -- thus we have more physical descriptions of the other three, more of the woman’s thoughts as they travel -- but we see and hear them all as they interact. The boy, ten years old, is learning to use a camera, undertaking his own documentation of their trip. The five-year-old girl, full of life, brings a fresh perspective to many moments. [Later note: Halfway through the book, the boy takes over for a while as narrator, and later still voices mingle, in ways and for reasons I leave you to discover for yourself.]

All this “about” talk, though, tells you nothing of the spellbinding narrator’s voice. Indeed, it tells you nothing of the spell cast by the the story of the trip itself, deepening with every mile as we learn more of what has brought these people to where they are and what propels them forward into their uncertain future, as we share their experiences along the road. 

For a reader without deep concerns about immigration or border security or lost children (though I ask myself, who could that reader possibly be?), Luiselli’s novel can/could be read for the innovative and yet somehow timeless beauty of the writing. That would be reading at the level of enjoyment. Deeper still, one can read the story (as I’m sure most will) for both its contemporary and historical context. 

Finally, then, a personal note, one that comes very early on in the novel:

Finally, one night, my husband spread the big map out on our bed and called the children and me into our room. He swiped the tip of his index finger from New York all the way down to Arizona, and then tapped twice on a point, a tiny dot in the southeastern corner of the state. He said:
Here. 
Here, what? the boy asked.
Here are the Chiricahua Mountains, he said.
And? the boy asked.
And that is the heart of Apacheria, he answered.

There it is, you see, for me. It all comes together for me, as it seems to be coming together (I am as yet not halfway through the novel) for the woman telling the story: the Chiricahuas (Echo Canyon), the Dos Cabezas, the Dragoons (Cochise Stronghold); Cochise and Geronimo and Lozen and U.S. policy with Native Americans from the beginning of our country's history; the U.S. border with Mexico; immigration and immigrants without documents and the lost immigrant children; where we’ve been as a nation, where we are now, and where we’re going; the sights and sounds and roads and small towns and big cities across this land. It’s all here. It’s all in this book.

north of border

south of border

You might want to think about reading Lost Children Archive. If you love it only half as much as I do, it will be well worth your time.



July 1 postscriptThe only part of the book that really bothered me was reading about Cochise being buried at Fort Sill. He wasn't. His grave is not there and never was. Cochise died in Arizona and was buried somewhere in the Stronghold, by Apaches, in an unmarked grave. When the fictional family in the book is on the road, on their way west, they think they are going to Fort Still — they have the name wrong — and that took me aback, but it’s their mistake, and when they see the sign they realize their error, so I kept thinking they would correct the part about where Cochise was buried, too, but apparently the author is the one who misinformed her characters on that score. Did she visit Fort Sill? I’d say not. There is so much Apache history in the book, how did she miss the fact that Cochise died before Geronimo and the others were “relocated” by train to Florida? In biographical/historical terms, it’s a serious error. In literary terms, in terms of the length of a book’s life span, maybe it doesn’t matter quite as much. Who am I to say? Historians, as well as living descendants of Cochise today, cannot have the viewpoint of possible heirs of world literature centuries in the future — if civilization lasts that long.

The thing is, I haven't even begun to describe for you the lyrical beauty and the interweaving of life, literature, and documentation that make this book worth your consideration. Please give it a try!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Recent Reading Serendipity


There as many kinds of readers as there are kinds of people and as many different ways to sort them into groups, too. Today I’m thinking of the preferences readers exhibit when it comes to new vs. old books. Some want only new releases and disdain anything old, while others restrict their reading to works on “classics” list, the older the better, and find nothing worthwhile in current literature. Some seek only books fresh and crisp from publisher or distributor, while others may prefer rich leather-bound volumes or even content themselves with dog-eared paperbacks, as long as they can find a book that has passed through the hands of various owners. Many are the happy approaches to building a personal library!

Personally, I can never rule out a book simply on the basis of its age or even its condition. That beat-up paperback volume of Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle that accompanied me across the Great Plains and prairies of the continent on our spring odyssey home to Michigan from the Southwest conveniently broke along its spine into two separate pieces, halving the bulk I needed to carry — first the first half, and then the second as I progressed through the book — in and out of the car and at various stopping places along our route. A large, handsomely bound Voyage would not have suited my traveling needs nearly as well. When at last, home again, I finished with the story, I made the two halves fast together with a rubber band and set the whole aside for a friend, having promised it to her as a hand-me-down. I hope she appreciates its condition suits her as well as it suited me. 

On the other hand, every year sees the advent of wonderful new titles, and I wouldn’t want to miss a treasure simply because it wasn’t available in an old form. It’s always a holiday when Dan the UPS man arrives with a new book order from my distributor. A box of books to open! Though I made out the order myself, when the box arrives I am as excited as if I hadn’t been expecting it. And then, sometimes, a new book comes “over the transom,” as it were. Do you know that expression? Does it bring an image to your mind?

Two recent book discoveries have brightened my reading life, if I can call “discoveries” what it was my good fortune to encounter when not even searching. One was a new book, the other old.

Flesh and Stones: Field Notes From a Finite World, by Jan Shoemaker, came to me as an inscribed gift from the author after she visited my bookstore for the first time. Ms. Shoemaker (coincidentally, the same last name as a writer friend I have known for several years now) writes personal essays, and as essays are a favorite genre of mine, and as the book came to me as an unexpected gift, I was eager to begin reading, and her book, I’m happy to say, pleasantly exceeded my hopes and expectations. Many of the the writer’s experiences will be familiar to other women in our general age range, but she brings a depth of reflection and a writerly sensibility such that every piece is gracefully and thoughtfully achieved. A trip to shop for bras with and for her aging mother, who in need of constant care due to Alzheimer’s, offers Shoemaker a startling vision:

I glimpsed the web of my future in the straps and clasps of that impossible bra. Who is less capable than I am of working any apparatus? I have never walked, by my own wits, through a turnstile in any city subway. Where does the token go? I can’t replace an ink cartridge, hang a picture evenly, or reset the clock in my car to daylight saving time. I can just barely manage a bra myself. All those loops and hooks — it’s like playing cat’s cradle just getting dressed. It was no wonder I was crabby when my mom asked where her parents were, why I winced when she whispered, “Am I an orphan?” 
- Jan Shoemaker, Flesh and Stones: Field Notes From a Finite World
Will you be surprised to learn that I ordered copies of Flesh and Stones for my bookstore? Icing on the cake: Shoemaker lives in Okemos, so she’s another Michigan writer I can happily support.


On one of my bookshelves at home I found a slim little paperback I’d apparently begun long ago and set aside during a busy season, so long ago that I had no memory of the pages leading up to my bookmark. So it was fortuitous, this second coming into my life of Where Nests the Water Hen, by the Canadian writer Gabrielle Roy, the author’s charming story of the Tousignants, a large, happy French Canadian family residing on an island in northern Manitoba. The mother is a particularly engaging personality. Here is Luzina coming home from a trip she makes away from home roughly once a year, happy with the success of her journey and grateful to the driver carrying her toward home:

When they were tired of talking, they rested by reflecting on the pleasant things that had been said. Her life, at the only times when she could give it much thought, while she was jolting along on her travels, seemed truly wonderful…. 
Abe Zlutkin [her driver] took advantage of an interval when the road was a trifle less slippery to show her a photo of his wife. It portrayed a plump young Jewish woman of dark complexion. Abe bethought himself that he loved her dearly. For a moment the business he was in such a hurry to transact ceased tormenting him. Such was Luzina’s power. She disposed people to become aware that they had reasons for being happy. 
- Gabrielle Roy, Where Nests the Water Hen

It is not at all irrelevant to my delight in these two books that both authors describe settings in detail, Shoemaker her natural surroundings wherever she travels as well as at home, Roy the familiar habitat of her native Manitoba. That means a lot to me in much of my reading for pleasure. 

Here is another snippet from Jan Shoemaker:
…If you climb behind Olson Waterfall in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, you hear the brash staccato of water vaulting before your glistening face into a big half-kettle hollowed from shelves of sandstone. Later, retracing your steps below fifty-foot ledges of mossy rock, you pick up the slippery vowels of its creek, chuckling over pebbles and fallen limbs.

And from the wilds of northern Manitoba, in the words of Gabrielle Roy:
Hippolyte … went off to take a stroll along the shore of the Big Water Hen. At its middle the river ran free; outside the current it was encumbered with sedges. They spread everywhere, gaining ground from year to year, just as did the crops elsewhere, the tilth, the forest — a country really made for the birds. Each year they came from the depths of Florida, two thousand miles as a bird flies, hastening and following a cunning course in order to reach this sure asylum! Perhaps more than two thousand miles! The mother birds must have remembered the water which came halfway up the length of the rushes. Here were the finest hiding-places in the world in which to have their ducklings when they first began to swim….
Two very different books -- one fiction, one nonfiction -- set in two different north American countries, one in Manitoba’s remote North, the other in Michigan’s most populated corner. Both beautifully written by women with a strong sense of character and of place, and it was only by serendipity that their paths crossed as they came into my early summer reading life this year. 

May you have similar good reading fortune! And remember that the best way to find these surprises is to put yourself in a promising environment....

Monday, June 17, 2019

A Bookish Look Back: In Defense of Lists

Seems like just yesterday that Sarah was a pup
Conversation in the bookstore occasionally turns to the question of lists. The question, more specifically, is: “Do you keep lists of the books you’ve read?” I did not always do so but have now for quite a while, because it’s just too embarrassing to be a bookseller and be unable to remember the title of a book or name of an author one wants to recommend! This morning I looked back at my first list and see that I began the practice in 2009, about 15 months after my first post on “Books in Northport.” 

Bonnie Jo Campbell and me
Since I have been a re-reader almost as long as I’ve been a reader, there are old, familiar names of favorite authors on that list from 2009: Alexander McCall Smith, Farley Mowat, Georges Simenon, Louis Slobodkin, Elizabeth Enright, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Barbara Ehrenreich, Alfred Kazin, and Annie Dillard are there, and so are Michigan’s Mardi Link and Jim Harrison and Bonnie Jo Campbell. James Joyce’s Ulysses is on the list, telling me that 2009 must have been the inaugural year of a little reading circle that will discuss pre-World War I Vienna this July. 

Trudy, Steve, me at one (raucous?) reading circle meeting
Novels Forever Island and Allapatah, by Patrick Smith, remind me that we spent a couple of late winter months that year in Aripeka, Florida. Bleak House, by Charles Dickens, is on the list, and I recall my grudging reluctance before that thick volume with the forbidding title — taken on only at the bidding of another book group to which I belonged for a couple of years — and my subsequent delight in the story and gratitude to the friend who had urged it on the group. U.P. Hedrick’s Land of the Crooked Tree was a book the Artist and I read aloud to each other, transporting ourselves nightly from the Florida Gulf Coast to the America’s other “Third Coast,” that of the Great Lakes. Which is third and which is fourth? I’ll leave that quarrel to others. 

It was in 2009 that I read Lisa Genova’s brilliant novel, Still Alice, a book I have not (yet) re-read but one that remains vivid in my mind for the way the author manages to convey the confusions of Alzheimer’s disease from the viewpoint not of a family member but of the sufferer herself. I also read Doug Stanton’s extraordinary Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan, the images Doug’s writing conjured up in my head much clearer still, at ten years remove, from the movie version of the book. 

I read Harrison’s In Search of Small Gods, which came out that year. There would be still more poetry from Jim following that collection, for we had Jim among us (in a literary sense, although he no longer lived in Michigan) for several more years.

A few classics stand out: Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons; The Count of Monte Cristo, by Dumas (the Artist’s favorite story when he was a young man); Stendahl’s Le Rouge et Le Noir (not at all what I expected), all first readings for me; as well as the careful group re-reading of Joyce’s Ulysses. There were several books about dogs, both fiction and nonfiction (Sarah was still very much a puppy then), and one about a woman’s pioneer experience in the American West, a theme that has recurred in subsequent lists. I read Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks — and went on to read three more novels by Brooks in subsequent years. I read J. B. Priestley’s English Journey (1934) for the first time and have re-read it since. I rediscovered with great pleasure a favorite from my adolescence, Mrs. Mike

Besides serving as a record, my “Books Read” lists for each year take me back to where I was at that time in my life, vicarious experiences from books, always, blending with the experiences of my “real” life. Thus titles from 2009 take me back to Aripeka, Florida; to Sarah’s young-dog days; to the beginnings of one book group and the memory of another no longer active; to first acquaintances and deepening friendships with various Michigan writers; and to Sunny Schwartz with her Dreams from the Monster Factory and Rebecca K. O’Connor’s Lift: A Memoir. With Schwartz I met incarcerated men looking for redemption; with O’Connor I flew hawks! And there was Gustav Niebuhr, who urged me (and other readers, of course) to go Beyond Tolerance in building bridges with Americans of different faiths and opinions. 

Most of the titles on my list from ten years ago stir memories. A few, I admit, leave me blank. I see a certain title and ask myself what the book was about, and I may never remember, but it’s also possible that I’ll run across the book again someday and a little light will turn on to illuminate some dark corridor of memory. 

In general, my life is not organized enough to qualify as compulsive, and much of what I thought of (or tried to ingrain in myself) as habit has fallen away over the years, but my “Books Read” lists have acquired increased value to me as time has gone by, and I am very glad to have them. They are like photo albums or like physical books lined up on my shelves, a harvest of pleasure and learning it would be painful to lose. 



Friday, June 14, 2019

Tree-Hugger Travels

[Re 'tree-hugger' - Since the term is so often used as an epithet, I've decided to embrace it as part of my identity.]

You’d think I’d have had enough road travel to last a while, having settled back home less than a month ago after another Odyssean cross-country adventure stretched out over nine grueling days. But that was just the trouble: by the time we got to southern Michigan we were feeling the bite of the calendar urging us homeward, with the result that I had nowhere near enough time there with my son and none at all with a couple of my oldest friends.

One of the best things about June, though, is the length of the days, long enough that even someone who on the job until 5 p.m. can set out after work and have hours of daylight driving time. So that’s what I did last Saturday — and had a beautiful, sunny trip over the rivers, through the woods, and across the counties of Michigan from Leelanau to Kalamazoo.

Dark was falling by the time I arrived at the home of the friends who had offered to put me up, and by morning the rain had arrived. My friends’ home is surrounded by woods. The sky was overcast. All day long, therefore, morning, afternoon, and evening, the light was the same, a murky, underwater green, overabundant foliage pressing in like tangles of seaweed or like a jungle intent on devouring everything human. Mayapples were happy, though, and azaleas and peonies in riotous bloom. And it was ideal weather for sleeping late and catching a nap later on still.

When I was fully conscious at last, my son took me out to breakfast downtown at the very hip and trendy Food Dance. It’s a Kalamazoo institution, I’m told, though I’ve been gone so long that it was new to me. After our leisurely breakfast, we left town behind to venture up into Barry County, aiming first for our old farmhouse to see how tall the pine trees had grown. We continued north after that stop and proceeded to lose ourselves for at least half an hour — and maybe a full hour, because we lost track of time, too — on Barry County back roads. We wandered slowly and wonderingly through old forest, past secret, hidden-away lakes and ponds and wetlands, all of it undeveloped land, much of it open to public hunting. At one point a great blue heron swooped low across the road in front of us, followed minutes later by a flash of oriole. The forest was tall and far-reaching, without cabins or paths other than the roads that would around and around and uphill and down dale. It was a magical world, and we were under its spell. 


Before starting back on Monday I visited other friends, and their old country home too was wild with vegetation. Trees I remembered as new plantings had shot up like green and blue-green skyscrapers, the view of the lake across the road had almost vanished behind a thick screen of maple branches, and in the gardens out past the dining room windows, shouts of color brought hummingbirds.

After all my forest visitation, I could not face the high-speed expressway maze through Grand Rapids and chose instead to come back north closer to the Lake Michigan shoreline, from Kalamazoo to Allegan to Holland and north past Grand Haven and Pentwater. Old, familiar paths and names. Beautiful, overflowing rivers. A pair of young steers running and frisking in their pasture. Two horses standing with their rumps to the road, tails swishing flies away. A turtle crossing the pavement between one pond and another. These were paved roads, but they were roads less traveled nonetheless. 

I thought a little bit about the perennial question of where Downstate leaves off and Up North begins. Which is Holland? Which is Muskegon? What about North Muskegon? But quickly my thoughts turned to more general musings, i.e., what a wonderful state Michigan is from north to south and west to east. Prairies, farm fields, pastures, orchards — forests, shorelines, and dunes — lakes, ponds, and wetlands — a lifetime of exploring will never be enough to experience it all. 

Two book recommendations for today, reflecting my recent travel and reflections on the state of Michigan, come to you from your bookseller here in “Treeland” Up North. They are:

The Overstory, a novel by Richard Powers with characters whose lives are affected in one way or another by the great trees and forests of the United States;

and 

The Marsh King’s Daughter, by Karen Dionne, a novel set in our own beloved, wooded and wild Upper Peninsula.




Friday, June 7, 2019

Round Two Goes -- Again! -- to Jennifer Clark

I’m so happy that poet Jennifer Clark contacted me this past winter about her new book of poems, A Beginner’s Guide to Heaven, and that she will be my first Thursday Evening Author of 2019, because Jennifer Clark is extraordinary. You think you know what to expect from poetry — and then you read Jennifer Clark. There’s the natural world, of course, in her work, a world traditionally mined by poets since poetry began, but from the heavens above to spiders close at hand, Clark’s eye sees nature anew, drawing connections and analogies as original as the ones she finds in ghastly newspaper tragedies or, to pull back to a happier scene, in the event of a young boy acquiring his first athletic protector. Is there nothing this poet fails to notice and give back to us in a strange and wondrous new light?

Original vision and an original voice are the gifts we receive from a genuine poet. That is, we experience writing that presents the world anew, in a voice on the page that is as individual as a face in a portrait. Clark paints pain wearing with a shock of humor, while in other poems the humor has its own sharp edge. 

Usually when writing about a book of poetry I give a few sample lines. Somehow with this work, I don’t want to take anything out of context. As each poem a unitary whole, so is the collection. As is always the case with the best poetry, each piece merits and rewards re-reading. Others demand it. There’s no way I could take in all the details of “Optimal Foraging Theory” my first time through, but my bafflement did not stand in the way of delight.

Poet and bookseller with poet's previous collection

But you don’t need to take my word for it or wait for June 27. Come in and pick up the book today, and then you will definitely not want to miss Jennifer Clark in Northport.

Her previous visit to Dog Ears Books

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Are You Tired of It Yet?


Are you tired of spring? Impatient for summer's heat? Do blooming cherry trees begin to bore you. Is your eye satiated with the leafing-out of fresh green everywhere? Impossible!

Unlike the white settled blanket of winter or the satiety of full-blown late summer’s dark green, Michigan shoulder seasons, spring and fall, change their appearance almost from hour to hour. Look closely at an open cherry blossom and notice a tiny brown edge. More obvious is the dandelion’s decline from bright yellow flowers to globes of ghostly seeds. 



Every footstep of every road’s vista is unique. Do you prefer the long view or the intimate perspective? To be lost at child’s-eye level among tree trunks or to soar overhead like a bird?




My advice is not to miss any of it. Take every possible opportunity to look about you. Take, take, take your time, but don’t take it for granted!