Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bird by Bird

One of my favorite books is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, one of my favorite writers. The book addresses the writing process, but it also applies to life in general. (If you haven't already read it, you really should add it to your list.) The title comes from a family story. Her 10-year-old brother had to write a report for school about a whole bunch of birds. He was completely overwhelmed, not knowing where to start. Dad gave him an encouraging squeeze and told him (if I remember correctly), "Just take it bird by bird, buddy, bird by bird."

Lamott also says that good writing is about telling the truth. Well, the truth is I'm a bit overwhelmed right now by lots of little things, and posting thoughts and photos from our fabulous vacation overwhelms me more. But it's important to me to record the trip, not just for my friends but for me and our family. So, I'm going to take it bird by bird, posting a photo or two a day if I can. And then, when I've done a few, I'll feel accomplished!

These two photos are from either end of Acorn Street in Calumet, Mich. If you know me well, you know how much my mom's parents mean to me. Grandpa, who died six years ago this December, was born in a home on 10th Street, and he grew up in a duplex on Acorn. This was my first trip to his hometown. (We suspect his home was torn down, but I'm not sure, as the buildings were renumbered in the past decade as the area got 911.)

Acorn Street is short. On one end is 10th Street. On the other is an abandoned train depot. The neighborhood is a short walk from downtown, where we stayed. Its also within walking distance of an abandoned copper mine. Calumet was a boom town during the Upper Peninsula's cooper rush. My great-grandfather worked in the mines, and I'm guessing he worked at one he could walk to.

The mines closed decades ago, and there's not much left for folks to do now. But it is a charming town, with many original buildings; folks who are friendly but keep to themselves; kids biking, walking and playing in the streets without any fear; colorful front-yard gardens; and plenty of pasties, my family's special treat, favored by miners for their tastiness, durability and hardiness.

Cooper and I at the old train depot

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