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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Catching Up -- Partway, At Least

Foreground: coreopsis. Background: Duck Lake.

When someone the other day told me she follows my blog, besides being surprised I was also chagrined to realize how far I’ve been falling behind on posting. It’s been almost two weeks. Yikes! That is not because nothing is happening! (Far from it. Quite the opposite.) Lots more news soon, but for now, here are a few notes from Northport and nearby.



First, the Blossoms

Old Dog Ears Books home, 1997-????

Coreopsis (opening image) are going crazy right now in Leelanau County. There is a corner down by Duck Lake (south of Leland, where M-22 meets M-204) that is almost solid gold, while in Northport, brilliant red poppies (immediately above) in front of Porcupine (once the home of Dog Ears Books, back in the late 1990s), on the corner of Mill and Nagonaba, are still vivid though beginning to fade. Spiderwort, on the other hand, will go on and on and on, something I really appreciate about spiderwort, along with the sculptural quality its leaves add to a vase of flowers, either wildflowers or blooms from the garden. There is more spiderwort in my old corner garden on the Nagonaba side, right next to this welcoming bench in front of Sally Coohon’s shop, Dolls and More (her building another of the many homes of Dog Ears Books over the years).


Other Northport News


Here on Waukazoo Street, our building is having a modest makeover. Fresh paint! Very nice! Deborah Ebbers, Studio and Gallery; Dog Ears Books; Red Mullein – all with a newly spiffed-up exterior as we head into the heart of summer.

Former Tribune, now Big Dipper

Ice cream! Northport will not be without ice cream this summer, as that wonderful Kevin Murphy (Kevin and Amy have New Bohemian Café on Waukazoo and the Omena Country Store in Omena) has teamed up with one of his café baristas to open the Big Dipper. Perfect name, isn’t it? Hard and soft ice cream, many brands and flavors. 

New restaurant, Faro, on SE corner of Waukazoo and Nagonaba


Meanwhile the folks who used to be in that building where you’ll get your ice cream this summer, the Tribune gang, have moved down to the corner of Waukazoo and Nagonaba and are serving meals as Faro. 


And did we mention (probably not yet) that Northport is celebrating its 175th birthday this summer? 


Today, For Me


Forty-four years ago, June 18, 1980, the Artist and I were married by a magistrate in the old downtown courthouse in Kalamazoo. I picked wildflowers in the early morning for our late morning civil ceremony. Our children were our witnesses. Afterward, a dear friend took us all out to lunch, and following lunch we, the newlyweds, went home to change into old clothes and work in the yard. You see, we had had our “honeymoon” trip to the U.P. long before (never mind how long), and working outdoors together on that lovely June day felt just fine – on a day very like today, with flowers blooming and sun shining…. 

Kalamazoo, June 18, 1980

All the Artist ever wanted to do was to make a living with his paintings, but we also fantasized for years about having a bookshop in a little town. Living in the country was another dream. Leelanau County? Could any of it ever come true? Years later, we made it all happen.



Reminder: Author Visit on Saturday


Bonnie Jo Campbell will be at Dog Ears Books this coming Saturday, June 22, signing her latest novel, The Watersbeginning at 1 p.m. We are fortunate that Bonnie found time in her busy schedule to come to Northport – her third visit to my bookstore! – so please come and make her welcome and buy a copy of her book. A few of you have already bought the book from me, so by all means bring it with you on Saturday, and she will sign it. If you have any pictures of donkeys, bring those along, too. Bonnie has donkeys, and they loom large in her legend (as Ringo said so memorably of his drums).

BJC at home as Lady Liberty! Isn't this the coolest?


Bonnie Jo Campbell, a master of rural noir, returns with the fierce, mesmerizing novel THE WATERS, a story about exceptional women and the soul of a small town.

On an island in the Great Massasauga Swamp-an area known as "The Waters" to the residents of nearby Whiteheart, Michigan-herbalist Hermine "Herself" Zook has healed the local women of their ailments for generations. As stubborn as her tonics are powerful, Herself inspires reverence and fear in the people of Whiteheart, and even in her own three daughters. The youngest, beautiful and inscrutable Rose Thorn, has left her own daughter, eleven-year-old Dorothy "Donkey" Zook, to grow up wild. Donkey spends her days searching for truths in the lush landscape and in her math books, waiting for her wayward mother and longing for a father, unaware that family secrets, passionate love, and violent men will flood through the swamp and upend her idyllic childhood. With a "ruthless and precise eye for the details of the physical world" (New York Times Book Review), Bonnie Jo Campbell presents an elegant antidote to the dark side of masculinity, celebrating the resilience of nature and the brutality and sweetness of rural life.

Bonnie Jo Campbell, a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, a Guggenheim Fellow, and the recipient of the AWP's Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction and a Pushcart Prize, lives outside Kalamazoo, Michigan, with donkeys. 


Anonymous said...

Looks like summer has settled in up there. I wish the artist was there with you to enjoy it.

Karen Casebeer said...

Great update on NP. I wondered what was happening with The Tribune building and business.

BB-Idaho said...

That Porcupine building looks real old. I'm thinking it may have been
Henry Schoolcraft's place, circa 1820s? But then, I blew the old ironworks
place to the south. 175 candles? Happy Birthday Northport!

P. J. Grath said...

The Porcupine building was built by the pharmacist who had his place just to the north on Mill Street, and originally there was a door between the two buildings. The corner store (I always called it "the bark-covered building) originally sold Native American crafts -- the real kind, baskets and quill work by Ojibwa-Odawa craftspeople. In later years, the store caved to cheap foreign imports, fake stuff, but Jean Dame (who operated a little restaurant and store in the former pharmacy building) for many years still had a stash of the good stuff.

P. J. Grath said...

Oh, and the bark-covered building isn't all that old. I think it might have been built in the l940s? I seem to remember the pharmacist's son, when he visited, telling me the building had cost his father $80.