Labor Day is the traditional end of the summer vacation season, the day after which students return to school and tourist town streets turn empty. But this is 2020, the year of COVID-19, and who knows what fall 2020 will bring? Spring and summer were certainly not same-old, same-old!
With many students of all ages are taking classes online, and many parents are working from home, online or by phone, will that translate to more late-season vacationers? Or will cool air and grey skies send everyone back into their home bubbles for the duration?
This Is Not Social Media
I thought of using that subhead as my headline today. It probably isn’t as important to my readers as it is to me; however, it’s something I want to say. Facebook is social media. Twitter is social media. Instagram, I guess, and many other platforms with which I have no firsthand acquaintance are social media. On those platforms, people post (usually briefly), and others comment, and sometimes long threads “go viral,” resulting in (usual brief) fame or notoriety (infamy) for the person who posted and/or commenters.
A blog is something different.
Blog posts – amazing the speed of change in our virtual world! – have already become “old-fashioned.” Though they may include links to other sites, they are generally original writings and longer than most social media posts. Moreover, if the blogger sticks with the blog, it can develop over the years a distinctive narrative voice. Or voices, plural.
“Books in Northport” is sometimes casual, often discursive, at times meditative, and once in a while (I try to keep this to a minimum) a bit pugnacious, but it always comes directly from me. A blog, like a diary or journal, is a habit, albeit a publicly offered discipline, one to which the writer -- if no one else! -- returns again and again, essaying, seeking clarity, noting personal milestones, pinning down memories and thoughts.
Here you find news from my bookstore in Northport, Michigan, and mention or sometimes reviews of books I’m reading, but also reports and photographs from my husband’s art world, from our travels (presently nonexistent), from the woods and fields and beaches of Michigan to the mountains and deserts of Arizona. Here are frequent images of our old dog, with now and then images of other people’s horses (since I have none of my own), however tenuous or nonexistent any link between those horses and my Northport book world.
In short, “Books in Northport” goes beyond books and far beyond Northport. It is my world – specific, particular, personal, idiosyncratic. Once in a while someone leaves a comment, and when that happens I try always to respond, but most of the time I’m the only one “speaking” here, and when you come to read my posts, we are not rallying with hundreds or thousands of other people and shouting at each other on some allegedly neutral ground. You are visiting my world -- and I thank you for spending time here with me! I truly appreciate it.
And now I’d like to close today with a few words from the journal and letters of Lieutenant James Allen. Allen accompanied Henry Rowe Schoolcraft on an expedition to the source of the Mississippi in 1832, and his writings are included as Appendix C in Schoolcraft’s Expedition to Lake Itasca, published by Michigan State University Press (1958; 1993):
June 9 …We passed Twin [Two-Hearted] river, twenty-four miles from Whitefish point. It is a small stream, and its mouth is so much filled with sand that it can only be entered by very light craft, and in smooth water. We have travelled to day forty-five miles.
June 10, (Sunday.)—This being the Sabbath, by a rule of Mr. Schoolcraft’s, we do not travel, though the weather is fine. The rule however is convenient in observance, as it gives the men time to wash, bake, etc., which they have but little time to do when travelling. We are lying in a beautiful little bay, called the Grand Marais, from its having once been a marsh, which, within the recollection of some old voyageurs, now present, has been washed away to its present state. It is a safe harbor for boats, and is important for its being the only one between Shelldrake river and Grand island, a distance of near one hundred miles. It is half a mile in depth, opens to the west, and is difficult to enter with a strong west wind and heavy sea, which drive right into it. Traders have met with serious accidents in attempting to run into it under such circumstances….
You see, while the Artist and I (and our dog) are not today, as in so many other years the day after Labor Day, on our way to Lake Superior, yet I can travel there in the pages of a book.
Where are you traveling today, on roads or pages or simply in the world of your own mind?