Search This Blog

Friday, January 20, 2012

I Am Not in Louisiana or Florida

The pictures on the wall do not really curve like a tropical horizon!

I am in and around Northport, Michigan, commuting between home and my bookstore in the village. Others are in warmer places.

Robert Gray, who writes for the trade newsletter, “Shelf Awareness,” is in New Orleans. Matt Norcross of McLean and Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Michigan, is there, too, and so is best-selling author and novice bookseller Ann Patchett. The occasion for the gathering in the Big Easy is the Winter Institute of the American Booksellers Association. “Could we have gone?” David asked on Thursday evening, as temperatures dropped into single digits and the wind howled fiercely around our old northern Michigan farmhouse. Yes, if money were no object, we could have gone, but that’s always a mighty big “if” in our lives.

Only one coloring book left!
Today’s mail brought a postcard announcing the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair in St. Petersburg, March 9-11. More than 115 book dealers will participate. We attended this fair a few years ago when we were in Florida for the winter. Both of us had secret misgivings about going to “the Coliseum,” picturing an enormous football stadium and many square miles of parking lot, but we had agreed to meet friends, and so we hit the road for the Tampa Bay area. What a lovely surprise! The Coliseum is an old, Spanish-style dance hall, with beautiful dark woodwork inside, and strings of lights added a festive note. It is beautiful and small enough in scale that it fits perfectly into the surrounding residential neighborhood. We even found a close parking space on the street with shade! (I don’t remember if Sarah went with us, but traveling with a dog makes one very conscious of the importance of shady parking spaces.) The books at the fair were wonderful, too, so we had a great time and were very glad to have gone. –But not this year.

Here at home for the winter, though, the days pass quickly, as David noted when we huddled under the covers for our nightly movie, after he pried himself away from Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken and I put aside Carol Gilligan’s Joining the Resistance, our respective after-dinner reading. Weeks pass quickly, too. With the bookstore closed Sunday through Tuesday and loyal Bruce at the desk on Wednesday, my only regular days are Thursday through Saturday, and that’s a short week. Not that I don’t do any bookselling work on the other days, but the hours are more flexible, and my leash is longer, too.

The table by the door is focused on nature this month.
Last week was an unusual whirlwind in the winter life of bookseller and artist: We had a dinner out with friends on Friday and the opening of a big area art show in Traverse City on Saturday, and I had a breakfast gathering of friends on Saturday morning, one of my book clubs on Sunday evening, the media launch of the 2012 season of the National Writers Season for Tuesday lunch, and another book club meeting (Dante) on Wednesday evening. During any given week, there are books to read and blog posts and book reviews to write, not to mention getting outside with my healthy, young, born-to-run little dog.

Then there are my bookstore days. They may be short (only four hours long, 11-3), but somehow I keep busy and the hours fly. Making, taking, and returning phone calls takes time, as does rearranging furniture, making up book orders, visiting with friends who drop in, and reading book catalogs and reviews--all of which has to wait until after the snow is cleared from the sidewalk.

Paperback beach books to leatherbound treasures--
All images in this post are from my bookstore, and all, as you may have noticed, are of books because I want to remind my readers that buying a book from an independent bookstore is never just “buying a book.” Whenever you “shop local,” whenever you make purchases in your local community businesses, you are participating in a community and doing your part to keep that community alive. We are all connected, in more ways than are obvious at first glance.

Very new to very old, we cover all the bases.
I remind myself of how many people remain Up North all winter (or most of the winter), and I don’t mind at all clearing the snow from the sidewalk in front of my bookstore. This is my little place in the frozen north, and I’m happy to be here.

Was this an advertisement? At least it wasn't spam e-mail or a telephone robo-call.


Dawn said...

Never spam! I love your bookstore, and I'm certain everyone that stays through the winter is glad you are open.

P. J. Grath said...

Thanks, Dawn. At this time of year, a lot of shopkeepers and restaurateurs have many lonely, soul-searching hours. People who do come in, though, are appreciative, and I remind myself that I'm lucky to have this great place to hang out, too.

Gerry said...

This was not an advertisement. This was a visit to a bookstore. 'Morning PJ!

P. J. Grath said...

Thanks for stopping by, Gerry--good to see you here!

Kathy said...

I would like to be in your bookstore. I would like a good book to read in the airplanes tomorrow, if they decide to take off. If the snow doesn't come.

P. J. Grath said...

Oh, Kathy, I hope nothing gets in the way of your travel plans to the Destination Wedding! We are only going as far south as Traverse City tomorrow, and we're relieved that there is no blizzard in the forecast. Hope you don't have one, either.

helen sica said...

Pam, I so enjoyed your blog re sketching in nature. You have inspired me to start sketching again. I think you might enjoy our tuesday morning open studio at the OAB? Of course, I'm on my back with broken leg propped up so I won't be there til May. Go to FL on the 7th and can't walk til the 4th..can't wait.

You are sooooo talented and you have so much to give ....and you DO give, give, give...and we all appreciate it.

P. J. Grath said...

Helen, thank you so much for visiting and for your kind words. I just finished a book I think you will enjoy. I'll phone you about it, and maybe Nick can pick it up.... said...

Your days seem busy, indeed; and for all the joys of warm weather, there's nothing quite like the beauty of snow in winter....

P. J. Grath said...

We had the beauty of snow the last couple of days and will now have the joys of warmer weather for a spell. This has been a very strange January, Helen. A fast one, too--flying by!