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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Is It Over?

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?


Jeanie Furlan said...

Hello Pamela! It was with such a pleasant feeling to see your description in comparison to other forms of writing. You blog is always such a well-chroegraphed dance among several different topics, gracefully meshing them so they compliment each other. You and David are in my thoughts, but I apologize in getting sidetracked into politics & newspapers, then audio books on history, and escaping into novels. I DO appreciate your comments on links and books, and our daughter Julia is sending Bruce Catton’s and Bonnie Jo Campbell’s books to us here in São Paulo. So your words have gone far and wide, and I am thankful for your thoughts.....on all and any issues. We here have Sept. 7th as Independence Day from Portugal, but with most people and places under restrictions, there aren’t many celebrations. We have traveled to Antonio’s sister’s house in the country, a gated community where we’ve visited before and haven’t had any infection risks. We love the two dogs who live here, so we’re lucky to be outside of our São Paulo apartment. Until next time, dear friend!

Angie said...

I love seeing pictures of your sweet, frosted face furbaby. They always have my heart. And horses---well, I'll just say I've never owned one, and have always longed to have one as my very own best friend. I adore them. I'm traveling the Pacific Crest Trail (by book--Bliss(ter)) and daily, for a while, bike riding with the Tour de France. I love these 3 weeks of the Tour de France and the fact that I can claim those mornings for my own to 'ride'. :D

My husband died last February, and I'm still struggling to have two cogent thoughts at once, but I am slowly trying to get back to my blog. It's hard to write when you feel like you can't hold onto thoughts long enough to get them into written form. :/ I love blogs, and my heart does a a dance every time I find one that is still being written and hasn't gone to the blog graveyard.

A lovely post. Namaste, my new friend.

Carol Cronin said...

Thanks for the reminder of why we blog and what blogging really is, and happy end of summer!

P. J. Grath said...

Jeanie, Angie, Carol -- a feast of comments this morning! What a lovely surprise! Bean, it's always wonderful to hear from you (other friends, Jeanie and I have known each other for over half a century!), and I am especially happy to hear that you and Antonio are staying healthy after your COVID experience -- AND that you will be reading Bruce Catton and Bonnie Jo Campbell! How wonderful! Angie, you will want to read a new book called HORSE CRAZY, which I haven't seen yet -- need to check the release date -- but I heard the author on the radio a few days ago and was moved to tears. She expresses so well my own feelings about and toward horses. I'm so, so sorry that you had such a terrible loss so recently! It's no wonder you are still struggling with that! Allow me to recommend a blog by poet Fleda Brown called "My Wobbly Bicycle." Fleda began her blog while undergoing cancer treatments and has continued through many other challenges. For some reason, her more recent posts are not showing up as links in my blog list, but look for her, and you'll find her and perhaps be inspired by her. I wouldn't be surprised. Carol, thanks for weighing in here, and a happy advent of autumn to you!

Barbara A Stark-Nemon said...

"In short, “Books in Northport” goes beyond books and far beyond Northport. It is my world – specific, particular, personal, idiosyncratic." And what a world it is, and how fortunate for those of us who travel along with you in that world. to answer your question about whose world we are reading in at the moment, I'm reading The Marsh King's Daughter,by Karen Dionne, in preparation for our 2-week RV trip to the UP.... more on that later...

P. J. Grath said...

Hi, Barbara! So you are traveling to the U.P. in a book and will travel there on roads soon. Give my regards to U.S. 2, please. And thank you!

Dawn said...

I think blogs have an important role in the world. Well, maybe not as important as editorials in major newspapers, or speechs by major candidates...but an important role. I like that you can go deeper in a blog instead of a tweet or an instagram post. I like that there can be continuity, or spontaneity, and as a reader you never know. (See Kathy's last post). I like that it's a form of journaling for some (me) and I can use it to remember things I might otherwise have lost. So many things about blogs I enjoy, not the least is the friendships I've developed over the years from reading other blogs, and having people read mine. Someitmes I think about stopping, and someday, of course, I will. But for now it's an outlet of sorts, for the writer and the reader alike.

P. J. Grath said...

Dawn, those are all things I love, too, which I guess is why I, like you, have persisted with this form and forum. I still miss the young woman blogger in China who no longer has time in her busy career and family life to blog any more. Glad you are still at it. Don't stop!