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Lake & Island Notes                                            February 2013

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Featured Selection


The Tiger

by John Vaillant

Perhaps the only thing more fearsome than a Siberian tiger attack is life itself in the post-Soviet taiga of Russia’s far east. This book covers both in exquisite and frightening detail. The story line – all true and meticulously researched – is basically that a tiger goes rogue, begins to hunt down human pray with a vengeance, and finally is hunted down itself. But there’s more to it than that. There is much about tigers generally, rogue or not. Mysterious and illuminating. There is much about life in the taiga – “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” as Hobbes would say, with the tiger as Leviathan.

Featured Selection


The River Swimmer

by Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison is one of those authors we call “regional” up here because of his frequent settings in the north woods of the nearby Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is also one of those “regional” authors of “universal” appeal and scope. These two small novellas span the lifetime of this fictional memoir-writer - Thad, the “River Swimmer” is 17; Clive, the art professor returning to “The Land of Unlikeness,” is 60. Both play out in the hardscrabble farm country of the western Great Lakes. The land and water have much to do with both, as do the tragic longings and wanderings of his human characters. The New York Times noted that, “Harrison is a writer of the body, which he celebrates as the ordinary, essential and wondrous instrument by which we measure the world. Without it, there is no philosophy”. Nicely said!

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Bayfield, Wisconsin
Island Notes Blog

What a glorious winter! Since early January we have been covered with broad sweeps of meringue-like snow criss-crossed with the long shadows of winter. Temperatures have rarely gone above 30 degrees – more often below zero. Yet we miss nary a beat as our heroic snow plowers are out day and night and the rights-of-way remain wide and clear always. The sun is better than in the earlier winter, when it is not seen much, and it’s higher and feels warm through the window glass.
Earlier this week we snow-shoed from Roy’s Point to Basswood Island and the old quarry.  It’s about a four-mile round trip over now-firm ice.  The same ice through which we lost one of our best young men, Jim Hudson, just weeks ago. And then today two more! There can never be enough said about Lake Superior – its capricious fury, its frozen stealth. Just be very, very careful! This has got to stop!

Our reading groups are going full bore.  The Big Water Group (all women, but not by design) is reading The Round House by Louise Erdrich. Other choices have included Lighthouse Road by PEter Geye, Driftless by David Rhodes and Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer. The Bayfield Library Group (all men, but not by design) is reading River Swimmer by Jim Harrison for next week.  We have already read Driftless and Young Men and Fire, by Norman MacLean. It’s a winter thing.
Gorgeous days and plenty of snow and cold for the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Races which brought 65 teams – from the 8-dog 80 mile to the Family Run – for two days of competition and camaraderie in the North Woods.  Book Across the Bay attracted close to 4000 cross-country skiers, snow-shoers and hikers for the beautiful night trek across Chequamegon Bay from Ashland to Washburn. And the Blue Moon Ball.  And the Bayfield Winter Festival. Why, it’s enough to keep a bookstore open all winter! Come visit!

Happy Reading!
All of us at AIB

What we're reading...

Things That Are
by Amy Leach

So, what shelf do we put this one on?  Humor? Science? Poetry? Nature? Essays? General Non-fiction? Fantasy? We should probably get seven copies and put one in each. Leach’s range is cosmic – from tiny warblers weighing a third of an ounce to the Pinwheel Galaxy twenty-two million light years away; from thirteen billion years into the past to the year 3,000,2012 in the future. This is an absolutely original, totally idiosyncratic book. We have not read anything quite like it. It is mainly in the realm of the biological sciences, but, as David Abram puts it, it is "Loopy, mad-hatterish, infernally addictive writing that makes you sneeze.” Yup!

Thresholds: Connecting Body and Soul After Brain Injury
by Lawrence M. Pray with Dr. David Gumm

Our cousin, Larry Pray, who spends a lot of time up here at the family cabin near the sea caves, has written a new and important book about healing after a stroke or other brain injury. He writes from his personal experience as a life-long Type-1 diabetic who has survived two heart attacks and two major strokes. Larry is a writer, painter, teacher and pastor. His story addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual side of what it’s like to experience, heal from, and live with brain damage. Dr. Gumm places that story in the context of how the brain works and what happens when it is injured. Inspiring and moving!  Check it out

Extra Yarn
by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Jon Klassen

This is a heartfelt book about the happiness a little girl can bring to a dark world. Annabelle finds a box of yarn that seems to be never-ending. She uses the box of yarn to knit sweaters for everyone and everything in her dreary town. This magical box of yarn brings light to this little girl, her dog, and the world around her. She is not even phased when a rich Archduke comes to offer her millions of dollars for her box of yarn. It will only work for her as she does the job of lifting this town up with a little bit of extra yarn. With beautiful illustrations, this book is perfect for a dreary winter day!

Closing Thoughts...

Bayfield Winter Festival
March 1-3, 2013

Come to Bayfield for a wild weekend of winter fun, with a variety of activities to celebrate the end of winter.  Scramble over obstacles at Mt. Ashwabay Ski Area's Winter Dash, race on the frozen lake in the Run on Water, play broomball, or even take the Polar Plunge to help raise money for the Rec Center. For those with less cabin fever, try a candlelight walk on the Brownstone Trail supporting the Bayfield Regional Conservancy, ice golf, a luminary ski, shopping, or a sleigh ride.  Everyone will love the Freeze Your Glass Off Deck Party on the outdoor deck of the Bayfield Inn, and the rocking Winter Bash at Mt. Ashwabay.  Experience Bayfield's winter wonderland, with area skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, snowmobiling and dog sledding at its finest.

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