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Thursday, May 20, 2010

If You “Love Northport” What Do You Love?

We live halfway between Leland and Northport, and my husband has a “Leland person” since 1950 or so, although he’s oftener found in Northport these days. One of our friends, born and raised in Leland, calls herself a “Leland person living in Northport.” Old affinities never die. People, however, do sometimes change their habits.

I first came up to Traverse City in 1970 and began living in Leland (after interim years in Kalamazoo, Cincinnati and Champaign-Urbana) in 1993, establishing my bookstore in Northport that same year. Our home base has been out in the country now for nine years, and I have never lived within the village limits of Northport, but when a good friend who is a native of this place introduced me to newcomers as a “Northport person” it made me happy. This village, this township—this is my home. I have pledged allegiance to this place with my bookstore, in the face of long odds.

Nothing is perfect. Taxes and sewer assessments have recently strained tempers and pocketbooks in Northport, with the result that some old friends are no longer on speaking terms. (The same thing happened years ago when Leland got its first sewer system; this is not a phenomenon unique to Northport.) Business owners are always nervous about staying in business from year to hear, while willing volunteers with time to spare are tapped over and over, and school board members, administration and teachers are rarely unanimous on any given issue. That’s just life.

Today, though, what I want to do is to love everything and everyone in Northport—those who shop locally and those who drive to Traverse City; those who smile and greet (the majority) but also the occasional scowling grouch, who may just be having a very bad day; the wild, scruffy, untidy corners it is in my deepest nature to cherish and the spit-polished and manicured areas in which people take much pride, as well.

We are all here for such a very short time. Some will be remembered as long as the town has memory, and some will be quickly forgotten. Today, though, the sun is shining, swallows are building nests, gardens are being tended, and the light on the water of Grand Traverse Bay is blinding in its glory. We are lucky to be here. I am lucky to be here.


Dawn said...

Way lucky. I was lucky to be there for 3 weeks in March, so I recognize it as a special place. Enjoy!

P. J. Grath said...

It is a special place, Dawn. Sometimes the difference between being home and being on vacation obscures the special qualities of everyday life, but I did have a lovely day today. More about some of the reasons to be revealed in future....

P. J. Grath said...

Deborah, I'm recopying your comment on this post, which I think is where it belongs:

"Joe and I love the beautiful land, the friendly people in the town who create a wonderful atmosphere, Dog Ears Books - should have said that first! I love that my sister and brother in law are there, there is a dog beach etc. We love visiting so much we often consider moving there."

No doubt I'll be asked about the dog beach. I think Deborah is talking about the beach off Lake Michigan Road. If you take Bohemian Road west to Lake Michigan, north of the road end is "no dogs," south is dog-friendly. This is part of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore and one of our most beautiful Leelanau beaches.