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Monday, May 4, 2015

Back to the Blue

A good friend here in Leelanau County commented that she didn’t care much for the Arizona high desert, all that “brown landscape.” It’s true, there is not a lot of color in the prismatic sense. I found, however, a lot of local color, to use the term in something other than its literal sense, and I loved being immersed in a culture so different from what I’ve known for most of my life. But it’s good to be home, too.

Home. Michigan. Coming home to Michigan from Arizona feels much more different from years-ago homecomings from Florida, the Southwest itself much more different, mostly in the absence of greenery and blue water (both of which are abundant in Florida), so that what strikes me most this spring on re-entry is seeing Lake Michigan again, Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Leelanau, even the little creeks running everywhere through the county. We were driving a few days ago on a road down by Cedar, and I remarked to David, commenting on a ditch running with fresh, clear water, “In Arizona, that would be considered a river.” More than that, in the Southwest I oriented myself by mountain ranges, whereas now, back home, I have returned to orienting by bodies of water.

Another friend reminded me, when I was rhapsodizing online about Arizona horses, that we have horses here, too. Indeed we do, and also cows, and I have been seeking them out in the landscape. To make sure I see horses every day is one of my personal "goals" for 2015. Cows are good, too. Horses: exciting. Cows: calming.

For yet another friend, who mentioned that I hadn’t posted any photos of the outside of our winter getaway cabin, here's one for Joanne, though it has nothing to do with anything else in this post.

Returning to the land of blue water has also brought me back to new books by Michigan authors, another refreshing source of joy. I have come home to In Pursuit of Birds, by Ladislav Hanka of Kalamazoo, and Testimony of the Senses, by Cory Oldweiler of Leland, to mention only two outstanding examples. There are many more, and I’ll be writing about some of them soon in this space.

My hours for May are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Memorial Day weekend, when we will be --unthinkably! -- closed to attend a family wedding. Stop by soon when we're open to put your name on the reservations list for the Hanka book, which I will have in stock later this month.

Books are alive and well in Northport, I am happy to report. The first day of the Dog Ears Books season, Saturday, May 2, was filled with friends and customers, hugs and sales. It is a rich life here in the Upper Midwest, on our peninsula on a peninsula in the Great Lakes.


Karen Casebeer said...

I really liked your point about how you oriented yourself by the mountains in AZ, and by the water back here. Wherever one is, I think there is something that anchors one to the sense of place of that location. I don't think seriously (yet) about going someplace else in the winter, but if I did, I think I'd want a place with water and greenery, although many friends love AZ.

P. J. Grath said...

Karen, it was interesting to spend time with old friends in Arizona and have one of them say she missed the woods much more than the water. I can understand that, since I seldom get out on the water but almost daily enjoy walks through or along the edge of woods.

Then there was this message in my morning e-mail:

"I hope this is the address where I can expect you to see my comments. I have so enjoyed reading about your summer trip, and had so many things to say about it that the fact that nothing got through to you irks me, to say the least. I spent some time in the southwest and visited a lot of the places you did. If this gets to you, please reply with a smiley face or some word that I know I have found a way to talk back with you. Thanks. Cheri"

Cheri, hi! :) The only thing I know for sure about leaving comments is that after you hit 'publish' you need to wait longer than you think it should take to see a message that your comment has been received. If anyone wants to experiment with that and see if it helps, please let me know.

Dawn said...

I think each place in the world has fascinating places or cultures or just new surprises waiting to be found. I love the SW, I love your peninsula. I'd probably love Florida if I spent time there. But I think the sheer extremes in the landscape of MI and AZ is what would make it the most fun to inhabit both.

P. J. Grath said...

Dawn, I agree with you about everywhere being fascinating in its way. We certainly found Missouri beautiful as we were traveling through it. But yes, Michigan and Arizona are very much two extremely different kinds of beauty and excitement.