It was a spectacular trip Up North. I hadn't realized how tired I was--from working so hard, trying to get all my work done while taking time off, and from driving all over the state doing talks and signings for the book. But once Up North, I relaxed. Napped every day for the first three days. One morning I took a nap before lunch. Yes, it's come to that. Bring me a cardigan and a lap shawl... I am old and feeble.
The weather was eerily spectacular, so warm and mild for mid-October. Clear blue skies every day but one; no rain; bright starry nights that were unseasonably warm. The moonlight shimmered on the black water.
Doug had found us a log cabin right on the shore of Lake Superior. You could hear the waves splashing against the rocks all day and all night; a soothing sound that I miss now that I am home. (And last night, in bed, tried to persuade myself that the whirring of the ceiling fan was actually the murmur of the lake.)
We strolled--"hiked" might be too vigorous a word--through the woods every day with the dogs. Riley raced around. Boscoe trotted along so well. We had planned to limit his walks to very short outings, but he was happy to be outside, and had no trouble at all.
The first day, we went ninety minutes. He was great. He was happy. He was frisky the next morning. So the second day, we went nearly two and a half hours. We gave him one day off--Doug and Riley took to the woods, and Boscoe and I stayed home and read. But Boscoe was back at it the next day. It was lovely lovely lovely to see him trotting along, even jumping over streams. (Yes, he fell a couple of times. But no harm done.)
So we glutted on the outdoors, and on naps, and on sunshine. And we glutted on books, too. I read, I think, seven books. Some novels--"Vestments," by a St. Paul author named John Reimringer, which I liked very much. It's the story of a priest struggling with his vows and his family, and it's intensely St. Paul. I could picture all the neighborhoods and the little divey bars and the dicey Frogtown neighborhood. It was a lovely read.
And "Wicked River: The Mississippi When it Last Ran Wild," was a spectacular book, written by a Chicago journalist who takes us down the Mississippi from the days of the explorers to the days when steamboats are phased out and the corps of engineers begins dredging to try to tame the wild river. It's filled with seedy colorful characters, and great stories, and it gave me a lot to think about. So well done.
I finished Lionel Shriver's "We Need to Talk About Kevin," which got more and more chilling until the ending absolutely astounded me and I had nightmares that night. It's not a horror book, not a mystery, but a skillful, brilliant novel, told in letters by a woman whose son has shot up his school. It's unflinching. I know the book got a lot of attention when it first came out, but I think Shriver is underrated and her books are more powerful and more tautly written than, say, that Mr. Franzen guy's.
I am about to leave for work. I am trying to keep the lake, and the sunshine, and the quiet in my head and my heart as I drive out into what will almost certainly be a busy and hectic day.