Tag Archives: Traverse City

“Autumn on Lake Michigan,” the fourth and final limited-edition print in Glenn’s and Jerry’s series on the seasons of Lake Michigan, is officially launched. See it at our companion site  Big Maple Press. Jerry and Glenn have also released a treasure from the past: their very first collaborative artwork, “Winter’s River,” an ode to paddling in the quiet season that originally appeared in the New York Times and A Place on the Water, and has been in deep storage since 1993…If you’d like to receive early notification of forthcoming Big Maple Press prints, broadsides, books, chapbooks, and ephemera click on this link and we’ll be delighted to add you to the list….

DaybreakFinalCover10_30_14.inddThe good people at Alice Greene & Co in Ann Arbor have informed us that Jerry’s chapbook of prose and poetry, A Daybreak Handbook, is about to go out of print. As with most chapbooks, when it’s gone, it will be gone forever. We’ve acquired the few remaining copies and can offer them to good homes for $10 each, which includes shipping and sales tax. Take a look here

The Living Great Lakes audiobook is now available in all the usual places, in both digital and CD versions. Thanks to SoundCommentary.com for this terrific review…

Jerry is honored to be the inaugural author in the Great Lakes Author Series produced by Great Lakes Now and Detroit Public TV, who are doing important work on raising awareness about issues facing the Great Lakes and Michigan….

Jerry is now Tweeting about books, nature, and the writing life; if you want to follow him, you can….

Many thanks to Keith Taylor and “Stateside” on Michigan Radio for the fine review of A Walk in the Animal Kingdom….

While we’re tooting our own horn, a 5-star review of A Walk in the Animal Kingdom came our way (and another, here). The three titles in the Wonders of Nature Series are available at our favorite independent bookstores. If you can’t get to an indie store, visit the newly revamped and user-friendly Big Maple Press website or visit the “Books” page here on the J.D. site….

We hope you’ll sign up at the bottom of this page for Jerry’s monthly newsletter, which offers observations on the seasons, updates on works in progress, and insights about the writing life. We promise your address is secure and we will never share it.

Quiet Hours


(Drawing by Glenn Wolff. Visit www.glennwolff.com)

YEARS AGO, when my wife and young sons and I lived in the Old Town neighborhood of Traverse City, we often walked to the Carnegie Library on Sixth Street. On winter evenings we would bundle up in coats, boots, hats, and mittens and set out through the snow. If it was very cold and much snow had fallen, there would be no traffic and we would enjoy the novelty of walking down the center of Oak Street, breaking trail through the new snow. When we looked back the way we had come, Gail’s and my tracks always led straight down the street. The boys’ tracks meandered from side to side, for they were interested in everything, and everything required investigation.

By the time we reached the library we would have lost feeling in our cheeks, chins, and ears. The library was busier than we expected. Cars were parked at odd angles in the parking lot, and the lot was rutted where vehicles had gotten stuck and had to be rocked free. Inside were rosy cheeks and laughter, a festive atmosphere, everyone bumped out of their ordinary selves by the storm. We felt fortunate to be in that warm, bright building, surrounded by people who shared our appreciation. The library has never seemed a greater haven of light and knowledge.

I thought of those evenings not long ago, when a winter storm closed our little city for a couple of days. It was one of those storms that people complain about but secretly find energizing. Schools and government offices closed, and most of us took a time-out.

Late on the second night, while the storm was winding down, I took a walk down Front Street. The downtown district was deserted and so quiet that it seemed I must be the only person in the city who was still awake. Drifts clogged the street, and cars parked along it were heaped with so much snow it appeared as if they had been abandoned. The snow muffled all sound.

Somewhere along the way, as I broke trail on the street, I was joined by a stray dog, a long-haired mutt that might have had some border collie in him. He approached me, stopped a few feet away, and we made eye contact. I swear he gave a nod of recognition—You can’t sleep either? Well then, let’s walk—and we set off together, past street lights with snowflakes flaring beneath them and darkened storefronts with their windows etched with frost. It was like seeing the town for the first time. I’ve lived in or near Traverse City most of my life, but that night it seemed like a new place.

And isn’t that one of the pleasures of a storm? It shakes us from our routines and causes us to pay attention to the world again. There’s something deeply appealing about that. For a few hours everything’s quiet, and a bit of the wild returns to our lives.


(Originally published in Michigan Blue magazine, Winter 2015-16)


BEACHES TO WALK, rivers to paddle, trails to hike. The pair of red-headed woodpeckers that nested in our yard. Warblers. A red-eyed vireo laboring to feed a fledgling cowbird half again its size. Visits from friends and family (everyone wants to visit Traverse City in the summer). Neighbors’ lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, chippers. Women’s World Cup on tv. Book tour; print and radio interviews; road food; poor sleep. Fishing with my buds on the Boardman and Ausable and a spur-of-the-minute seven-hour drive north to fish with Tim on his secret river. The storm of the decade and a yard tangle-heaped with fallen trees. Cordwood to cut, split, and stack; enough for three winters. Piles of novels. The Detroit Tigers.

And I wonder why I haven’t written much this summer.


I was saddened to learn recently that one of my favorite literary magazines, PANK, is ceasing publication at the end of this year. Since 2007, M. Bartley Seigel and Roxane Gay have curated some of the most consistently engaging poetry and short prose in print and online. Some of it has been “experimental,” but in PANK literary adventurousness is never obscure. Every issue includes stories and poems that deserve to be read and reread. Their current online edition features this, the best thing I read today (the current issue also features “Anxiety Index” by my friend David Hornibrook; it’s the second-best thing I read today):

My Bliss

Bonnie Jo Campbell

First I married the breakfast cereal in its small cardboard chapel, wax-coated, into which I poured milk. Then I married a cigarette, for the gauzy way the air hung around us when we were together, then a stone, because I thought he was a brick or a block, something I could use to build a home. There was a bird, but flying away repeatedly is grounds for divorce. The shrub was a lost cause from the get-go and the TV gave me marital-tension headaches. The kidney was dull, the liver was slick, the car was exhausting, the monster in the woodshed scared the children (though I found his stink enticing). The teacup was all filling and emptying, emptying and filling. When I married the squirrel the wedding was woodland, the guests scampered, but all that foraging and rustling of sticks and leaves was too much. And the males sleep balled together in another tree all winter! How foolish, my marrying the truck, the shovel, the hair, the hope, the broom, the mail—oh, waiting and waiting for the mail to come! Marrying the cat was funny at first, and I luxuriated in his fur, until I heard his mating yowl, until the claws and the teeth, the penile spines, dear God. Forget the spider, the mask, the brittle bone. And then a slim-hipped quiet confidence leaned against the wall of the Lamplighter Lounge, chalking a pool cue, and I said, Lordy, this is for real. He ran the table, and I fanned myself with a coaster—this was going to last! I called home and divorced a plate of meatloaf. Confidence gave me a good couple of months. I learned aloof and not eating in public, but it did not last. He wasn’t from the Midwest, and besides, tied to a barstool across the room, some drunk’s seeing-eye dog was starting to chew the fishnet stockings off a lady’s artificial leg.

Bonnie Jo Campbell is the author of the forthcoming story collection Mothers, Tell Your Daughters (W.W. Norton, October 2015) and the bestselling novel Once Upon a River. She was a National Book Award finalist and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for her collection of stories, American Salvage, as well as a Guggenheim Fellow. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with her husband and two donkeys.