Friday, April 12, 2013

Payne Hollow Primer

 This is a writing for young children-an introduction to Payne Hollow.  Each text is for one page and one illustration.  Something I plan to do.  I plan a combination of calligraphy, painting, sewing, and use of a vintage printing set.  I also like the idea of an altered book; modern illumination.

·         Magic is a word sometimes used to describe a feeling we have when we understand                 
          something special.

·         The story of Harlan and Anna Hubbard is special.  They chose to live in a secluded 
           river hollow.

·         A river is ever changing and always interesting.

·         Walking the steep trail down into Payne Hollow was like finding a secret garden.

·         Close to the river, they built a cottage of stone and wood.  It was peaceful, so the   
          birds stayed too.

·         Without electricity, the house was always kept neat and orderly.

·         Harlan enjoyed hard work. He collected driftwood and managed the woods where                     
          trees harvested allowed others to grow strong.

·         They made wood fires every day for cooking and keeping clean and warm.

·         The garden was the center of their living-a green growing place full of butterflies and 

·         A large part of the garden was preserved.

·         They delighted in the goat herd and beloved dogs.

·         Anna was a careful homemaker.  She prepared tasty meals with whatever became 
          available, including wild foods.

·         She enjoyed reading to children and writing letters to loved ones.  To her, moonlight 
          on the river was a gift.

·         Who could be bored?  Best of all was the time left for playing music or reading 

·         While one person read, the other did handwork like knitting or shelling nuts.

·         Harlan painted pictures or made woodcut prints of the river and hills.

·         He made things in the workshop, like the handy wheelbarrow he used so often.

·         There, with a hand turned mill, he ground grains into flour for their daily bread.

·         Plastic milk bottles scavenged from the river became candled lanterns.

·         They never stopped learning, and made use of what was at hand.

·         The Hubbards treasured their family and friends.

·         They crafted a rich life they made for themselves.

·         He wrote books about the things they did.

·         Then people tried to find them, coming in their boats to search behind the willows.

·         Payne Hollow became well-known, as in the days when riverboats stopped there.

·         Harlan Hubbard, with Anna at his side, lived most of his life happily in the deep 
          woods.  Success was found in common hours.

·         Now, more people understand something special was hidden and found in a hollow.  
          Maybe you understand something of the magic already.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Anna in Michigan

Anna Hubbard grew up in Grand Rapids, and spent many vacation hours on the sands of Michigan.  The atmosphere and terrain is very different from the Ohio river valley, but it gave Anna a good background for the camping and boating she would do with Harlan.

When we took a trip around Lake Michigan not many years ago, we kept an eye open for the small lakes Anna's family enjoyed.  The following essay came out of our finding the dunes of the Sleeping Bear Dunes Nation Lakeshore.  'The Legend of Sleeping Bear', by Kathy-jo Wargin is a beautiful and touching telling of the story.  I highly recommend it, as it will enhance your understanding of my wonderful experience.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Finally I've come to a low spot in the road where I might make it to the beach, and it's opening out to a small parking-lot within view of the water.  Earlier along this scenic drive I stopped at a lookout point and stood there with my feet solidly planted into fine white sand...but the rest of me reeled with surprise.  I wasn't expecting to see such sweeping views from a dune, but this was a mountain of sand so immense that gulls flew below me, skimming the rippling sapphire of the lake.  And the wind!  The wind tugged and buffeted at me so that my spirit soared with the gulls and I felt that I too should by flying.

There is a story about this beach I stand on, and about the two islands I can see from here.  Many moons ago a mother bear encouraged her two cubs to swim after her to escape from a fast moving forest fire.  Across the great lake, all night, the mother bear swam, calling her cubs after her. When the exhausted mother bear made it to shore, she waited, but sadly the cubs were lost.  Ojibwa legend explains the two islands off shore rose in memorial to the cubs.  As the wind blew, the mother bear continued her vigil until until her own life drained away on the beach.  It is said a small unmarked dune remains in her final resting place.

Now I scan the horizon in search of a bearlike mound.  I am conscious of the shared experience of dedication, loss and hope, so my energy surges.

Kicking off my shoes feels so free and good that I pick up pace, enjoying every sinking strenuous step in the soft cool sand.  This I can do.  Sand blows in my face, but it can't stop me now.  I see her! A small eroded dune covered in fur-like grass, but strangely surrounded by bare, clean sand. I circle around to the other side where no human can see me.  Waves pound along with my heart as I throw my arms wide open and allow myself to fall into the full round of the hill.

Sunny childhood days spent on the shores of this beautiful lake are still with me.  It's been a long time since I've played in the sand, and today I am content to be hugging a sleeping bear.

*Above:  The young Anna on a Michigan dune.  Photo courtesy of George Bartnick
*Nancy and Judy play on the shores of Lake Michigan.