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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Is It Possible to Steal Time? If So, Is There a Penalty?

Wednesday was busy. With my first author event of the season scheduled for 7 p.m., I was up and out the door early, with many errands to accomplish in Leland, Lake Leelanau, Northport, and back at the old farmhouse. All the silly fretting I’d done about the weather, though, had been so much wasted energy. It was absolutely a glorious day!

With Bruce at the bookstore helm in Northport, I returned home early in the afternoon to tend to cleaning, cooking, dog, and laundry. Then about 2 o’clock I took a deep breath and decided I’d earned a break. Took a book out on our front – what is it? a deck? a walk? – wooden walkway, where a couple of big wooden chairs now invite lounging. Having already opened a cold beer, I sat down and opened my book. How marvelous!

Scolding chipmunks (scolding Sarah, I believe, not me) had me looking up every few minutes, as did birds singing high in the trees, and then I would notice all over again the blooming flowers visited by bees and admire once more my pretty dog lying in the grass and feel a shiver of delight to be sitting there outdoors with book and beer and dog, chipmunks and flowers and sunshine and green things growing all around. It was a distractingly beautiful day. I was not, that is to say, completely focused on my book to the exclusion of the world around me. But then, I didn’t want to be. The experience made a perfect whole.

Were those stolen moments? Was it a stolen hour? I could have been pursuing household cleanliness more thoroughly, but I knew my houseguest, author Ellen Airgood, taking a couple of days out of her very busy life to come to Northport, would understand and condone my indolence. I trust her that much.

Ellen has a hard time finding 10 minutes a day to spend outdoors, so when she arrived her first request was to sit “in the sun,” and accordingly we moved from shaded walk to sunny table, and there we enjoyed a few bites and sips before coming back to Northport for Ellen’s reading and book signing.

What can I say? She is a wonder – wonderful writer, wonderful friend, wonderful worker. “Her books are about real life,” another friend of mine says with deep appreciation.

That appreciative, book-loving friend and others found time at the end of their own busy days to come to Dog Ears Books last night to hear Ellen read (from her new book, The Education of Ivy Blake, and from a personal essay in the new anthology, Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) and to ask her questions about her writing, her books, her characters, her life. It was good conversation, relaxed and honest. Afterward, Ellen and I took the long way home via my favorite back roads, and then this morning we had more time for quiet conversation over leisurely breakfast and coffee.

I thought again – actually, several times – how fortunate I am in my rich literary life. Ellen says about her hard work at the West Bay Diner she and her husband own in the U.P. exactly what I feel about Dog Ears Books in Northport: “Without the business, look at all the wonderful people I would never have met!”

Our leisurely morning, time that could be seen as “stolen” for both of us, felt good. I felt rewarded rather than penalized for having stolen that time. I hope Ellen also feels rewarded having seized yesterday.

As we sometimes say here in the Leelanau, “Seize the carp!”


Dawn said...

Happy happy happy for you both!

Ellen Airgood said...

I loved my time with you and with your book loving friends at Dog Ears. Seize the carp indeed! Thank you, Pamela, David, and Sarah, and George too, for a wonderful interlude.

Dawn said...

PS: I'm certain there is no penalty for time stolen.

P. J. Grath said...

Love having your comments, Ellen and Dawn, as well as being stopped on the sidewalk this morning by a local telling me how much he loved this post -- and then finding an e-mail from someone else, who writes: "can't be stolen....they're free...(ok...kind of)." It's good to store up heavenly times in memory.

Karen Casebeer said...

I find it real wisdom to finally be able to take time to just sit and relax with a book and a beer, or whatever. As someone who's always been very work-oriented, it's sheer heaven to finally be able to listen to that inner voice that says: You've worked all morning. Go sit on the porch and read and listen to the sounds of the woods.

P. J. Grath said...

Karen, you and the other Karen and other members of your writing group will want to think about coming to hear Holly Wren Spaulding next Thursday and take advantage of the free workshop she'll lead after her reading. Should be great fun! I asked her if I could call it a "low-threat" workshop, and she said "NO-threat" would be better. :)

Karen Casebeer said...

NO-threat sounds right to me, a non-poet! I will pass this along to my group, which meets on Tuesday.

BB-Idaho said...

'Seize the carp' in Leanlauise? I think I got it:
"fugerit invida aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero."
-if the walleye escaped and the carp is left-seize it, you'll have
a minimally credible story for the kids? (sorry, Horace)

P. J. Grath said...

You may be giving us too much credit, BB. The Leland River used to be called the Carp River. And then there were lots of Richard Guindon cartoons about carp. See