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Monday, July 25, 2016

More and More and More

Repeating Itself (Another Summer of Wildflowers and Cherries)

Certain aspects of life capture my attention year after year, so much so that I know my blog posts and letters to friends become filled with repetitions. Same words, same photos: first spring wildflowers (again), succession of summer blooms and fruits (again), fall color (again), winter storms and snow (again). Do I repeat myself? So does Nature, and that is my excuse. Snow, thaw, spring beauties, cherry blossoms, daylilies, cherries, loosestrife, black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, fall color, frost, and back to snow. Rain, shine. Sunrise, sunset. But for me the seasons never grow old. Each one is new and exciting when it comes around again.

And that's good, because the details of particular days are not always too exciting. For instance, this morning:

5 a.m. Up to read on the front porch, finishing Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child (more about this another time).
6:30 a.m. Started another load of wash, folded yesterday's dry laundry.
6:40 a.m. Walk up the lane with Sarah; come back to water garden and start coffee.
7:15 a.m. Hang another load of laundry on line.
7:45 a.m. Leave for Traverse City errand, stopping in Lake Leelanau to get a croissant for the road.
Etc., etc., etc. You see what I mean.

More Authors Visit Northport

What is exciting is having authors visit Dog Ears Books, and from mid-July to this past weekend, I’ve had writers visiting Northport from Grosse Point, Newberry, and Suttons Bay, Michigan. Both Kelly Fordon (see next-to-last post) and Lynn Kimball have new collections of linked stories published by Wayne State Press. Here is Lynn’s from this past Friday with her book, Seasonal Roads:

It was interesting to hear Lynn explain that she likes to present her characters through the places they inhabit, rather than with lengthy descriptions of their personal looks. She read three selections, focusing in turn on the three main characters in her collection of linked U.P. stories, and it made perfect sense.

Even when authors are making repeat appearances, it's usually because they are presenting readers with a new book. That was true of Lynn Kimball and also of Lynne Rae Perkins, who came up from Suttons Bay with spice cookies in the shape of dog biscuits to go along with her reading from her delightful new illustrated children's book, Frank and Lucky Get Schooled. The story and pictures, however, rightfully held first place in the audience's attention.

Lynne Rae was asked if pictures or story come first with her books, and her answer (I hope I'm reporting this correctly) was that sometimes it's one, sometimes it's the other, but usually she's working back and forth between the words and the images. However she does it, it certainly works, all agreed.

Each visiting July author maintained gracious good humor and infectious enthusiasm despite heat and humidity, as did audience members who came to celebrate Michigan writing and art and enjoy behind-the-scenes glimpses into the creative process. As always (another repeating theme) I was struck by the generosity of writers. My authors! That's how I think of them that way and am so grateful to them for their work, as well as for sharing time with us. Similar in having talent and a strong work ethic, each author works differently, and that is fascinating, too.

More Memories: “Was it really that long ago?!”

The words burst from me as I read an item in this week’s Leelanau Enterprise. Under the heading “35 YEARS AGO” I read about boxer Thomas Hearns training at Sugar Loaf Resort. The “Motor City Cobra” (I liked that nickname much better than “Hit Man” Hearns) was in training at Sugar Loaf from August 14 to August 28, and David and I were in the audience one day as part of a group brought together by Leelanau poet and friend Jim Harrison. We had all been up late the night before, dining and drinking together, and the space where the training was set up was not air conditioned that August of 1981. The idea, we were told, was to simulate the conditions Hearns would meet when he fought Sugar Ray Leonard in Las Vegas. Impressed as I was with the fighter and his entourage, including wife and children, it’s chiefly my own misery that stands out in my memory of that day. Worst hangover of my life – a sad confession.

Here is the Las Vegas fight from September of the same year:

Summer Again -- But Don’t Say “Hot”

A local friend of mine chides anyone who dares to complain of “hot” weather here in northern Michigan. The most he will allow is that sometimes the temperatures are “warm,” but we should remember winter’s cold and be grateful for warm, he maintains. That has been the challenge of the past week: remembering winter cold to be grateful for summer warmth. How did you do with the heat wave?

I felt cooler when I heard of other parts of the U.S. that were 20 degrees warmer than here in Leelanau County – and without a lake breeze, too – and the realization that summer has passed the halfway mark reminded me of my mother’s words, “Don’t wish your life away!” These warm days too are beautiful days. And they are flying by, faster every year....


Dawn said...

We were in NYC last week. 98 degrees on asphalt. Was very warm. Glad to be home. Also glad your author events are going well. Love the grass image.

P. J. Grath said...

We are surviving warm days and warm nights. The authors are as much gifts to me as are their books. And what is more beautiful than sunlight on grass?

Linda Roth said...

You write beautifully. Your ho-hum mornings read delightful. I love ho-hum repetition. It keeps me balanced and reassured. As some might think, ho-hum is not boring. It is the natural flow of life unshaken by catastrophe or hiccup. It is a peaceful flow--until we're knocked over by an outlaw wave and forced to swim back to tranquility. I am glad the weekend reading was a success. I am glad I read your blog this early morning instead of sketching. It shook up my ho-hum just the way I like it shook. Now I can't tecall,if it's the clematis that blooms after the periwinkle or the iris?

Barbara Stark-Nemon said...

Looking forward to hearing what you think of Snow Child... it has stuck with me for months.....

P. J. Grath said...

Linda, I enjoy seeing your drawings and paintings, and now, from this comment, I see you write delightfully, as well. Thank you for your kind words. I can't help you with clematis, as I have none. And my wisteria (while we're on the subject of vines) now blooms so high up the side of the barn, up just under the roof, that it's barely part of my visual world any more. Yes, I like peaceful, mundane days, too.

Barbara, I have written up my piece on THE SNOW CHILD and will post it in a day or two. I'm eager to find more readers for this wonderful novel but don't want to pull the rug out from under the generous Michigan authors who have visited my bookstore this summer by pushing them offstage too soon.