Search This Blog

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Authors, Books, Birds, Bookmarks, Dogs and the NORTHPORT DOG PARADE!

Author and book-loving fan
Thursday was great fun with the Chickadee Man! Bill Smith, author of Chickadees at Night (northern Michigan’s current best-selling hardcover book, the paperback bestsellers being “shades” of some dull color...), did a recitation of his “fun” verse about chickadees (defending "funner" as "more fun than 'more fun'") and also gave his audience an insider view on how an illustrated book comes together, crediting his illustrator, Charles R. Murphy, and graphic book designer, Jenifer Thomas, for their contributions. There’s no doubt about the quality of the collaboration--the book speaks for itself—but the magic that happens between author and audience adds a dimension all its own, which is what bookstore events are all about, so here’s a little more of the flavor of Dog Ears Books on Thursday, for those who couldn’t be with us:

Imitating chickadee doing WHAT?

Explaining how the book illustrations evolved
Bill left behind a copy of his petition to make the chickadee Michigan’s new state bird, replacing the robin. Signatures welcome! Thanks to him, I have realized that the bird I heard on my first day sitting still in the woods in January was undoubtedly a chickadee, so of course I signed the petition. How about you?

Birds! On the back roads and close to home, one of my new bird friends this year is the Eastern kingbird, Tyrannus tyrannus. (Isn’t that a name? Wow!) All the guidebooks say the kingbird is “common and conspicuous.” Well, what can I say, as one who only learned to see it this year? All previous summers I was looking for a much smaller bird, and so I missed it altogether. Now I spot a kingbird and greet it as a friend and neighbor.

Kingbird, my new friend
We are also honored to have bluebirds nesting in a dead popple, close enough to our outdoor dining table that we can watch the parents feed their young while we ourselves are feeding. Saturday evening I could see (but was not quick enough to photograph) two gaping baby beaks at the nest hole entrance when the father bird returned with a grasshopper almost as big as his own head. One baby got that giant insect, and the other had to wait for their mother to arrive with a smaller tasty treat.

Papa at nest tree
Still on the subject of natural species, but switching from fauna to flora, I was intrigued to run across a couple stands of fireweed in northern Leelanau Township recently, up on the way to Christmas Cove. To me, fireweed is a U.P. wildflower, past blossoming by the time I get to Lake Superior for a visit in September, but here it was, close to home, and somehow that pleased me greatly.

Fireweed here in Leelanau Township

The third week of July will be busy for me. Mario Batali is the guest author on Tuesday evening, July 17, 7:30 p.m., at the Friends of the Leelanau Township Library’s Suzanne Rose Kraynik summer author series, and I’ll be there with a few of Mario’s cookbooks (four different titles) for those who want to purchase and get his signature and personal inscription after the formal presentation. (FOL president Suzanne Landes asks that everyone coming to the event bring a lawn chair, as the crowd is expected to be large, necessitating an outdoor evening!) Then the very next day, Wednesday, July 18, the author of the new Fishtown, Leland book, Laurie Kay Sommers, will be at Dog Ears Books from 4 to 6 p.m. to sign that exciting regional offering!

Bookmarks are a natural complement to bound books printed on paper, and a new addition to my bookstore inventory is a selection of beautiful, colorful, scenic (and laminated) bookmarks by local photographer Karen Casebeer. Karen urged me to carry “just the ones you like,” but there were none I didn’t like, and so my customers can choose wildlife, scenery, or sailboats on Grand Traverse Bay. There is only one photograph that was not taken here in Leelanau Township, and it will be up to you to determine which one that is, if you want to guess, when you make your choices. And yes, there is a snowy owl....

Last but hardly least important, let’s not forget the Northport Dog Parade. This year the parade will be a week earlier, taking place on Saturday, July 11--which is also the date of the Leelanau Township wine festival here in Northport, but let’s not get sidetracked. Dog Parade, Dog Parade. The theme this year, a nod to the marina improvements, is “Old Un-Salty Dog.” If any of you are going “Huh?” please recall that “salty dogs” are sailors and that Lake Michigan is “unsalted.” Now, start thinking about a costume or a float.

Dog Parade registration forms are available at Dog Ears Books, the Pennington Collection, and the Northport Bay Dog and Cat Company. Registration is $5/dog before August 11 and $10 on parade day. Parade day registration runs from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., with the parade beginning at 1:00 p.m., and JUDGING BEGINS AT THE MILL POND on 3rd Street at 11:30 a.m., so be there early, in costume!


Kathy said...

sounds like you had a fun time with the Chickadee Man. Wishing that the chirpy little fellow could be our state bird. As for fireweed...have been admiring it in the last week or so and thinking a photography shoot of its glory might be in order. Glad to hear you have some nearby.

P. J. Grath said...

Kathy, I would love it if you did a whole post on fireweed. It IS glorious, isn't it?

As for the chickadee-for-state-bird campaign, I have been surprised at the number of vehement supporters. One man said it was a "shame" that the chickadee is not already our state bird, and he couldn't understand the reason why it isn't. I confess I never gave any thought to an alternative, figuring what is, is, but change IS possible, isn't it? Sometimes CHANGE is glorious, eh?

Gerry said...

Well I certainly hope the friendly little chickadee achieves the crown. Even Tyrannus tyrannus would be an improvement over Turdus migratorius.

P. J. Grath said...

Leave it to Gerry to make a stunning point!