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Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Begins: One Weekend Up North

David and I stayed at the bookstore until 5:45 on Saturday evening—not, I’m sorry to say, because business was so brisk but because we had decided not to go home before the children’s choir concert but to stay in town and have dinner with friends at the Eat Spot. Sally wouldn’t be ready to leave her store until about 6, her husband said. So we stayed on as darkness fell, Dog Ears Books becoming cozier and cozier by the minute, and I couldn’t help imagining some busy university town, with lots of foot traffic and graduate students hungry for an evening literary adventure. But no, I have cast my bookselling lot in a small northern village, where I struggle to keep body and soul together. Ah, well! A lot of people are struggling these days, many of them not living their dreams as they struggle, so I still count myself a lucky woman.

The concert by the Leelanau Children’s Choir and Leelanau Youth Ensemble was beautiful, as always. The old English carols (a few French, also) sung by lovely young voices, the singers all in colorful period costume, make for a festive, joyous occasion, just the thing to launch the holiday season. And this year’s concert was dedicated to the memory of our recently departed friend, Claudia Goudschall, a long-time supporter of the LCC/LYE, as she was of so many local groups, so that made it even more special for us.

Snow, snow, snow! Would we be able to get in our driveway? Would we get out again on Sunday? Yes, we did! We went first to an open house at Circa Estate Winery, where artist friend Charlie Murphy was exhibiting paintings for the season, and where vintner Margaret Bell had my wine purchase gift-wrapped so I could take it to our next destination.

Then we pointed the car toward Omena, where Amanda Holmes and her husband, Dan Stewart, were hosting a Christmas tree pickup weekend. Amanda’s father, Herbert Holmes, who died six years ago Sunday, planted the trees that Dan and Amanda are still harvesting. I remember the last blue spruce that Herb cut for me years back, so being there as a young couple came to cut their very first Christmas tree, a blue spruce, and engineer it into the back of their car—that brought back a lot of memories. We sat around the fire with Dan and Amanda, then with Dan as Amanda and the young couple went to cut their tree, and I took some video footage of their triumphant return. Here are a couple still photos of the event.

Monday morning Sarah and I were out early, as I had a busy day ahead and needed to get started on it. Dog walk first, then coffee, then a flurry of e-mail correspondence as I moved from the heartbroken, demoralized, reactive stage of a certain recent event to the next phase, i.e., proactive education. This last month has given me a 1-2-3 punch, and I was briefly down, but 36 hours later am back on my feet, moving on, moving ahead, seeing what I have to do next. If not for the punches, I might not have seen at all the way I need to go, so bravo, crisis! Your Chinese ideogram is, I’m told, the same as the one for the English word ‘opportunity.’ Chinese does not, in other words, split this double-edged sword of reality.

The barn below was crashed into by a wild turkey on Sunday, Dan told me. You’d think he might have seen it and flown around. Are we all like that? Sometimes crashing into the obvious because we didn’t see it coming? The bird, slightly dazed, regained flight. That’s my wish for the whole human race. May we get back up and fly again!


Gerry said...

These are seriously difficult times Up North, and many other places as well. But we hunker down together, warm ourselves around bonfires of friendship and neighborliness, and muddle through.

I think turkeys don't fly much unless they're in a panic. Maybe the lesson is that if we panic we're likely to run smack into the broad side of a barn - or maybe not. Good for the turkey, getting up and getting on with it.

I am prone to studying the message board outside the Eastport Baptist Church as I make my rounds. One day it read "God can do wonders with the pieces of a broken heart." My mind flew to a stained glass artist making something extraordinary from shards of broken glass. And to Mark White's mother painstakingly reassembling "Grandpa's special board" after it was splintered in the Great Barnfalling of 2008. Rebuilding is creativity at its stubborn best.

P. J. Grath said...

Another deeply true and helpful comment from Gerry Sell. How much richer my life is for having discovered Torch Lake Views!

(Dan thinks a neighbor boy had been chasing turkeys.)

Anonymous said...

Your book store does look so cozy. How I want to be there right now! I would buy at least two books from you. There are always books whispering to us, aren't there? We've just got our first coffee shop in L'Anse and I am so worried they are not making it...that our town is too small to support a "real" coffee shop. I know we couldn't support a book store. Our unemployment is somewhere around 25%. Sigh... Sending you a big hug for whatever is paining your heart, Pamela.

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Raph G. Neckmann said...

To struggle while living one's dreams is much better than struggling along the wrong road of life.

P. J. Grath said...

Raph, we are in total agreement.