Post 41/2021 Saturday 9 October . . . Sometimes the threads that connect lives–past to present, in the moment, present to future–surface in unexpected ways. Here’s one: The day after I finished reading The Paris Library I read a column in The Newberry Times, titled “Just Bill,” Bill Diem wrote about his recent attendance at the annual gala in Paris of the American Library in Paris.
Bill Diem is a seasonal resident of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He wrote about the party but opened by noting that the board chair, Forrest Alogna, said libraries are the original think tanks. In Diem’s words, “In antiquity, collections of books attracted scholars who studied them and came up with new thoughts. The internet and the hand-held telephone computers that dominate urban life today are the result of basic research in the 1950s, he said. Those scientists had no reasons to think that their research might result in anything useful; they just wanted to understand.”
What’s happening in libraries today, Diem said, “is preparing social and scientific changes that would be obvious 70 years from now, and maybe not until then.”
Here I was in Curtis, Michigan, sitting next to our copy of The Paris Library, reading a column about the annual meeting in Paris of the American Library Board in a local newspaper, The Newberry News.
Good, happy, memorable threads to Paris, to the immigration of part of our forebears from France in the mid-19th century, to readings about WW 2, to visits to Paris, to a yen for a café au lait. Threads that draw us together through books.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
The week produced other threads of connection. Our visit to the north was to see the splendor of fall colors as we revisited favorite places where we’ve been before.
In addition to oohing and awing at the multicolored trees and forests, I was thrilled to read the book, The Hidden Life of Trees (borrowed from the Curtis Library). Sure, I knew that trees get their water and nutrients from their roots, but I had never been so directly confronted with the idea that trees are like human families, living together, communicating with each other, supporting their offspring and sharing nutrients with those who are sick or struggling.
If you’ve read the book you may feel like I do: aha moments are just a page turn away. I’ll leave it at that. I must further mull over the inner workings of trees and forests.
Curtis is a village located in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula, sandwiched between Little and Big Manistique Lakes. Our cabin was on the shore of the smaller lake, big by any other comparison.
Grand Marais is a village on Lake Superior. We spent a day in the village and surrounding area. The village has sidewalks, which Curtis lacks. Grand Marais has the air of a destination place, a spot to enjoy in its own right and a base from which to explore the area forests, dunes, rivers, falls, and lake.
A visit to the Ben Franklin store in Manistique gave me the “thread connection” notion. Seldom have I seen such a large number of bolts of cloth, thread, and other sewing supplies as were on offer at Ben Franklin. Marty got a Sudoku book.
We went to Manistique, an hour’s drive from Curtis, to get Covid-19 tests needed for our entry into Canada to visit family after two years. We subsequently filled out the online ArriveCAN document and crossed the border at Sault Ste Marie, with an overnight stay in Sudbury before heading to southwestern Ontario.
Words of wisdom