Lake & Island Notes                                 February 2014

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Featured Title

70% Water: Poems from the Great Divide 

by Rob Ganson

70% Water is a book in the tradition of the activist-poet - the spoken word advocate. While encompassing the human condition; the inner workings of the poet-citizen; nature; even love; it also paints a picture of an area under attack by mining interests and corrupt politicians. The Penokee Hills sit atop the great divide in far Northern Wisconsin. Its watershed feeds streams and rivers that feed Lake Superior, and an aquifer that supplies pure drinking water. More than anything, this book is about the efforts of a wordslinger to save that water; to protect Native Americans living downstream; and to safeguard 10% of the planet's fresh water.

Featured Title

Locally Brewed

by Anna Blessing

Locally Brewed celebrates the Midwest’s craft brewing movement with profiles of 20 of the area’s brewmasters and their breweries. These are entertaining and inspiring stories of the individuals who have been essential in the exponential growth of this movement, as told through vivid interviews, beautiful photography, and dynamic artwork.

Featured Title

Ways of Going Home

by Alejandro Zambra

At first blush this is a slight book – just 5” x 9” and 139 pages of fairly loose type. But deeper within it is the haunting story of the Pinochet legacy upon the generation of Chileans who were children or yet unborn (as in the case of Zambra) on September 11, 1973. Its four chapters swing back and forth between the “story” and the life of the author writing it. The boy is a 9-year-old living under the dictatorship with his family in a 1980’s suburb of Santiago. He is drawn into a mysterious intrigue by a 12-year-old girl with whom he has become infatuated. The novelist appears in the second chapter and, curiously, his life bears uncanny resemblance to that of the fictional boy. The stories wind themselves around each other and fuse until it is difficult to see where one begins and the other ends. Fundamental is the novelist’s point that, at the deepest level, revision is inherent in every description of one’s past. “That’s why we lie so much in the end," he says.

Featured Title

The Wildwood Chronicles

by Colin Meloy

Are your middle readers looking for another series to hold their attention? Author Colin Meloy, in collaboration with illustrator Carson Ellis, have created a trilogy to be enjoyed by all ages!

Prue McKeel is keeping out of trouble. Or trying to. Then her baby brother is abducted by crows and hauled off to the woods beyond the city. It is up to Prue to bring him back. On her mission she is plunged into the world of Wildwood and there she meets more trouble - and magic - than she ever thought possible.

This adventurous trilogy, set in modern day Portland, begins with Wildwood, and Under Wildwood. Wildwood Imperium is the third and final installment.
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Bayfield, Wisconsin
Island Notes Blog
“It’s like July!” gushed one of our fellow merchants.  The streets – notwithstanding the piles of snow – are teeming with tourists. Parking is scarce. Winter inventories are insufficient. Winter staff is nowhere to be found. But, the jangle of cash registers (or the equivalent digital devices) is music to our ear-muffed ears. Ah! – the miracle of the ice caves going viral! For the first time since 2009 the frozen mainland sea caves are accessible and spectacular. 
And so they came by the tens of thousands and from far and wide. First it was the local media, then the national media and finally the international media. Of course, the social media are driving our “likes” up exponentially. Today the ice caves were featured in El Pais (Spain’s leading daily newspaper). Australia’s premier TV channel was here this week as well. Word yesterday was of two charter flights from Japan. Many who have crowded into our shop had never been to Bayfield or the Apostle Islands before. No doubt they’ll be back come summer and that is a blessing for all of us trying to eke out a bit of business here in the northland.
It has been that kind of a winter. Temperatures have hovered around zero degrees (F) for the better part of two months. The snow, with nowhere else to go, has mounded-up on our roofs and in all available open spaces. The cost of propane has skyrocketed (Oh no! There has been no price gouging! No!) and delivery has been tough. We heat with wood from our own back forty and so we have been spared. But others have not been so lucky. The frost line has deepened to the point that faucets must be kept dribbling to avoid frozen, ruptured pipes. We keep a light on 24/7 for our hens and every other day they get a ration of hot oatmeal. The dogs choose to stay maybe five minutes outside. As Demaris said after the 1989 Loma Prieto earthquake in the Bay Area, “Everyplace has its faults!”  Today it reached 39 degrees!
Apinikan is an Ojibwe word meaning “wild potato ground." It is from that word that the Penokee Hills of far northern Wisconsin take their name. As we have noted (and will continue to note!) this special place is under dire threat from the planned GTAC open-pit iron mine. Lavished with special legislation, this out-of-state corporation, with a lousy record of environmental compliance elsewhere, is beginning to make its first gashes and drill its first wounds. Photographer Joel Austin has roamed these hills (remnants of a 1.8-billion-year-old mountain range) for the past 3½ years with his camera to document the unique beauty of the Penokees. We are proud to feature his new book, Discovering the Penokees. Very proud!

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What we're reading...

Discovering the Penokees
by Joel Austin

No issue touches our region so deeply as the potential permanent scarring of the magnificent Penokee Hills that stretch across Ashland and Iron Counties. They hover gracefully above the Kakagon Bad River Sloughs – some 16,000 acres of wild rice, grasses, sedges, trees, streams, and open water along Lake Superior’s southern shore. The threat is the proposed open pit iron mine 22 miles long, one-half mile wide and nearly 1000 feet deep cut through the heart of this unique and special place. While the splendid photos say all that needs to be said, the accompanying text from a variety of writers from Mike Wiggins, Jr. (Chair of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe) to Bill Heart (past Chair of the Wisconsin Council of Trout Unlimited) tells the story of the Penokees in graphic and loving terms. We recently visited the Chuquicamata open pit copper mine in the Atacama Desert in Chile. While the devastation of the pit itself is impressive, the most telling image is that of the abandoned city of Chuquicamata itself. It once had a bustling population of 25,000 people. 25,000! Now it is a ghost town. The last resident left in 2008 driven out by the effects of the still operating mine. Not here!
Brown Dog
by Jim Harrison

Summer in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (the “UP”) has been described as “three months of bad sledding." Brown Dog, “BD”, a bawdy, free-spirited, down-on-his-luck, maybe Native American lives there and is the protagonist of six novellas (one newly published here) that Harrison has written over the years. Harrison came from just south of that country and grew up there in Hemingwayesque style. In Harrison’s hands, BD becomes an everyman stuck in the grind, but defiantly alive and profane. His first caper is the discovery, deep in Lake Superior, of the perfectly preserved body of an Indian that he fantasizes might be that the father he never knew. He measures every expense by its equivalent in six-packs, but he spends his life trying in his way to keep himself and his family safe, sheltered, warm and fed. There’s a rough charm to it and it’s not for everybody, but Harrison fans are a special breed.
by Susan Cain

This is an intriguing look at a mostly overlooked and probably quite influential behavior pattern in our society – the marginalization of the third to half of our society who are introverts and who tend towards quiet and introspection. Our inclination is to listen and be drawn to the other half, who tend towards the big, entertaining, and magnetic personality. Whether you agree with Cain’s relatively broad generalizations or not, she reveals an important kernel of truth which in and of itself might behoove us to explore. What inventions and innovations might we have missed altogether by not listening to the clear, quiet, slower voices? How many possible young Einsteins, Margaret Meads or Michaelangelos (or just plain smart kids) are judged to be socially deficient because of their reticence? How many well meaning teachers, employers, and parents forcefully urge people of all ages to "come out of their shells" to satisfy our idea of what constitutes a successful personality? Cain includes quite a bit of science and an equal measure of speculation and imagination, all of which is perfectly suited to be mulled over quietly by the fire, cup of cocoa in hand.
We Need New Names
by NoViolet Bulawayo

NoViolet Bulawayo grew up in Zimbabwe and emigrated to the US at 18 to study law. The photo image of a child sitting atop the rubble of his bull-dozed home in her home country changed her mind and this debut novel is the result. The story is told from the perspective of a ten-year-old girl “Darling” who roams her corner of Zimbabwe with her posse of Bastard, Chipo, Godknows, Sbho and Stina stirring-up adventures each of which is a metaphor for the condition of her failing country under the rule of the aging Robert Mugabe. The writing is lyrical and captivating as Darling then finds herself an immigrant in “Destroyedmichygen” with a new posse of Nigerian and African-American girlfriends. Widely praised and prized, the book was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

Final Thoughts...

While this has certainly been a busier winter season than we are accustomed to, there are still those brief moments of silent beauty that remind us why we have chosen this place to live and work. This photo of the sun rising over Madeline Island was taken by our friend Bill Van Sant. It offers a feeling of solace and solitude that is rarely appreciated in this busy and hectic world. We remind you to find those moments in your world as well!

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