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A Storied Wilderness: Rewilding the Apostle Islands
James W. Feldman
Published: University of Washington Press, 2011
"Rewilding" - as Feldman conceives it- is not about simply eradicating the traces of human presence and activity in the natural world, but rather recognizing the shared roles of people and nature in restoring and maintaining wild places. His laboratory is the marvelous landscape of the Apostle Islands - once a bustling hive of human community and commerce - which came to be the only area in the continental United States granted "wilderness" status during the presidency of George W. Bush. One of the key "stories" in the book is that of the Noring Farm - an abandoned homestead on Sand Island . In his forward, the eminent historian William Cronon describes his own experience of the fading remnants of the old farm and points out how Feldman drew upon it to demonstrate his insights into the intertwining of human and nonhuman nature. This is one of many of his stories of the Apostle Islands and as Cronon puts it, "[These] stories will remain legible on these pages in all their poignant ambiguity for a very long time to come."
State of Wonder
Published: Harper, 2011
Patchett's Bel Canto has always been a hard act to follow, but this book gives it a run for its money. State of Wonder is part a jungle thriller (with the emphasis on "jungle") and part a pharmacological intrigue. The setting, in terms of the jungle flora and fauna itself as well as the grounds and village of a peculiar tribal culture, is exquisitely embroidered and its verisimilitude heightens the dramatic tension of the story itself. The science, however contrived it might be, is sufficiently persuasive to carry the story. The characters, from the Indian-American protagonist Marina Singh to Annick Swenson the research project leader to the elderly child-bearing villagers, are deeply and compellingly drawn. For Ann Patchett fans nothing less would be expected. For those who haven't read her, give it a try!
Gathering: Memior of a Seed Saver
Diane Ott Whealy
Published: Seed Savers Exchange, 2011
Diane Ott Whealy is co-founder of Seed Savers Exchange, a long-time leader in the heirloom seed movement and a fierce defender of the genetic integrity of our agricultural stock. This beautifully rendered volume intertwines the author's own family roots and history with the roots of Heritage Farm and the Seed Saver's Exchange and its hopeful ideology. She tells of the passion and perseverance of those with whom she has worked to bring her ideas and institutions to fruition. In a recent interview with Chelsea Green Publishing she related a bit of family lore regarding the "rooster step" - the slight, almost imperceptible increments of daylight as the Winter Solstice opens to the Summer Solstice - and how it is a metaphor for the growth of her movement. "The story of Seed Savers Exchange", she says, "is analogous to rooster steps - small focused accomplishments over a lifetime, day after day, year after year, added together created the organization we have today."
"Well, we outlasted Borders!" That might be heard as a boast of triumph if it were not sadly symptomatic of the state of the entire bookselling business. We hold on by our fingernails in our little niche market here in Bayfield and the Apostle Islands. We are somewhat fortunate - it's too late for visitors to go to Amazon, too far for Barnes and Noble and too risky (and dissonant!) for an ebook on the beach, canoe, sailboat or campsite. Besides, many of our splendid local, regional, photo essay, Native American, wildlife, art and similar titles don't really fit that format and are great souvenirs to bring home as an alternative to witty t-shirts. So, we're okay for now.
Not so for some of our colleagues in the small, independent bookstore world. Last winter our Duluth neighbor - Northern Lights Books - was forced to close. As Anita Zager wrote then, "I believe we are at a 'Guttenberg' moment in publishing...and I do not have the energy to figure out what comes next for profitable bookselling." We miss having her down the road at the foot of Lake Superior.
The same fate befell Conkey's Books - south of us in the Fox River Valley - which was the oldest independent bookstore in Wisconsin. After 113 years as a fixture in downtown Appleton, John Zimmerman gave up the business he had owned for 30 years. Aside from everything else, John's textbook contracts with the two local colleges were undercut by Barnes and Noble and that was the straw that broke the camel's back. "The combination of all this was too much for me to try to fight it," he said. 113 years!
Perhaps the most gratifying part for us in our store is the frequency of comments we hear from dedicated book readers about the pleasure of being in a "real" book store. They like the smell of the hardwood shelves, the tin ceiling, the pine and maple floors, the throw rugs and, above all, the feel of a good book in their hands. They appreciate our bringing interesting, successful authors to the community for readings and booksignings. It is their patronage and loyalty that will see us through. There may be a little more cost and perhaps a little less convenience, but we offer something more than dollars and cents and the 0's and 1's of the digital world. Join us!
Apostle Islands Booksellers
Sunday, August 14th, 1-3pm
Author Diane Ott Whealy Signing
This is the story about Seed Savers Exchange, the nation's premier nonprofit seed-saving organization, that began humbly as a simple exchange of seeds among passionate gardeners and how the membership has grown from a small coterie to more than thirteen thousand. This story captures what is best in the American spirit: the ability to dream and through hard work and perseverance inspire others to join the effort.
is a non-profit, 501(c)(3), member supported organization that saves and shares the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage, forming a living legacy that can be passed down through generations. Please stop by Apostle Islands Booksellers on August 14th from 1-3pm and meet Diane, buy this beautiful book and help support a worthwhile organization.
Diane Ott Whealy is dear friends with musician Greg Brown, and it is rumored that Greg will be making an appearance as well during Diane's visit. Greg Brown will be performing at Big Top Chautauqua on August 14th as well at 7:30pm.
Thursday, August 25th, 5-7pm
Author Jim Feldman Booksigning
A Storied Wilderness traces the complex history of human interaction with the Apostle Islands. In the 1930s, resource extraction made it seem like the islands' natural beauty had been lost forever. But as the island forests regenerated, the ways that people used and valued the islands changed - human and natural processes together led to the rewilding of the Apostles.
Jim will be joining us on Thursday, August 25th from 5-7pm. Stop in a visit with the author and get your signed copy of A Storied Wilderness: Rewilding the Apostle Islands.
Thursday, August 25th 7-8:30pm
Authors Stephen Wilbers & Al Watts Booksigning
After our time with Jim Feldman, we will be joined by two authors from the Twin Cities who spend a great deal of their time sailing the Apostle Islands.
A Boundary Waters History: Canoeing Through Time, by Stephen Wilbers
Teasing out the history of a place celebrated for timelessness--where countless paddle strokes have disappeared into clear waters--requires a sure and attentive hand. Stephen Wilbers's account reaches back to the glaciers that first carved out the Boundary Waters and to the original inhabitants, as well as to generations of wilderness explorers, both past and present. He does so without losing the personal relationship built through a lifetime of pilgrimages (anchored by almost three decades of trips with his father). Navigating Integrety: Transforming Business as Usual into Business at Its Best
, by Al Watts
Time and again, companies have landed permanently in the red and their practices often fail to align with their aims. With an economy in danger, surviving and thriving in the coming years will require a paradigm shift in modern business practices, starting with integrity.
With growing consciousness of employee engagement and work-life balance, Watts' call to redefine integrity breathes new life into business as we know it and leaves readers with the tools to successfully navigate through the rough waters ahead.
What we're reading...
South of Superior by Ellen Airgood
A debut novel full of heart, in which love, friendship, and charity teach a young woman to live a bigger life.
When Madeline Stone walks away from her Chicago life and moves five hundred miles north to the coast of Lake Superior, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, she isn't prepared for how much her life will change.
Charged with caring for an aging family friend, Madeline finds herself in the middle of beautiful nowhere with Gladys and Arbutus, two octogenarian sisters - one sharp and stubborn, the other sweeter than sunshine. As she is drawn into the dramas of the small, tight-knit town, Madeline learns that it's a place where times are tough and debts run deep, but where friendship, community, and compassion run deeper.
A debut novel full of heart, South of Superior shows that there is a deep reward in caring for others, that one who is poor in pocket can be rich in many other ways, and that happiness often comes from the smallest gestures.
Published: Riverhead Hardcover (June 9, 2011)
It's no secret this has been a very warm summer. With those hot summer days comes those amazing summer storms. This poem, from Raving About Summer, Fussing About Winter, written by local author Ros Nelson sums it up beautifully!
Good Sleeping Weather
Everywhere the are is hot and still.
The box elder bugs run jittery paths.
Perhaps they have sun stroke.
The dowager peony, browning a little,
droops against the fence
unable to hold her head up
on such thin legs.
Her ants have all crawled away,
drunk on sweet juice.
The night was hot too and lowered itself on the town.
When you thought you could no longer breathe,
dull, angry thunder rolled in
from far across the lake.
And like an army searching for an enemy,
it bounced off the lid of the sky
then regrouped, and spent itself
trying to take heaven.
This is a good night to be invisible,
a time to keep your eyes closed,
except for a quick look
to savor the cheap thrill of
watching lightning hit somewhere else.
You knew it all along,
that rain would come.
And when it did, it turned the are thick and dense,
erasing the shoreline and making
the sky and lake one muffled color
where the line of island lights hovered
like an unidentified flying object.
This is exactly when you must fall asleep.
Before this ends.
With the window open.
Savoring the rain
that would be making your squint
if you were a peony, or a box elder bug,
or an unidentified flying object
like a human on the wing.
© Ros Nelson