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“Are you sexually active?” The young woman asking does not look up from her note pad, writes Leelanau author Kathleen Stocking. I’m not sure in what capacity the questioner is asking.  Is this my doctor, a physician’s assistant, a nurse, an aide.  I am there for my eyes. The question catches me off-guard. I’m in a neck brace, walk with a walker, and part of my right leg is a prosthetic. I’m almost 80 years old, but look older.

In the summer of 1994, I met a northern Michigan writer—though not in person—who made a lasting impression on me: Leelanau County’s own, essayist Kathleen Stocking. I soon came across Stocking’s first book: Letters from the Leelanau: Essays of People and Place. After examining the front and back covers and conducting my open-any-page-and-decide test, I had to have it. Here was a writer who grew up in Leelanau County, whose family had a remarkable history in the area (notably, the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is named after her father), and who, as I would read, captured the essence of this special place. Little did I know that this would lead to an improbable encounter nearly three decades later.

The Glen Arbor Sun won seven awards in five different categories from the Michigan Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest among local news media for stories published between August 1, 2021, and July 31, 2022.

“Outside my window a crescent moon is slowly descending toward the snow-covered trees outlining the bend in the river. If my eyes aren’t deceiving me, the moon appears to become more orange the closer it gets to the earth,” writes Leelanau author Kathleen Stocking in this Christmas letter. “So much to know, so little time. We are all on the same path, just in different places, not only in the stages of one’s present existence—young, middle-aged, old—but in all the generations who have come before and might come later. This wild, unwieldy world. So much grief. The pandemic. The homeless under bridges. The Ukrainians, without bridges. The horrible wars.”

“What if we have lived, not just this lifetime, but millions since the earth began? Was I a leaf in a past life? What if we are truly part of everything that lives? Is it possible that there is no boundary between us and the world?” writes Kathleen Stocking in her latest essay. “When times are hard, like during a plague, sometimes people regress. What would late science teacher Mr. Bolton think of people taking horse de-wormer to protect them against the COVID?” Phil Deering, who has a small hobby farm, can’t get horse de-wormer for his animals. “Now they’re hiding it behind the counter,” he says, “So people who need it for their animals can still get it.”

Lynne Rae Perkins, an award-winning Suttons Bay author and illustrator, has released a new book, “The Museum of Everything.” The book, a kind of map—or as publisher Harper Collins calls it, an invitation to go on “an imagination-fueled journey through the living museum that surrounds us all—is the museum. And the museum has in it, among other things, a cloud, a shadow, an island that could be a stone in a puddle.

Photo: Fort Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City By Kathleen Stocking Sun contributor March is a dead month in Northern Michigan. In March 2020, when the pandemic hit, the snow fell like little gray feathers for days.  I live in housing for senior citizens in Traverse City, a tiny apartment two blocks from Grand Traverse Bay. Older people […]

We’re home. We’re self-quarantining ourselves. We’re practicing social distancing. The restaurants and bars are closed. Crowds no longer gather. What better way to spend these pandemic days than to read books newly published by Leelanau authors? Here’s a roundup of local books, or books by local authors, in 2020:

Traverse City author Kathleen Stocking’s new book, From the Place of the Gathering Light—her second book of Leelanau County essays—is the topic of conversation at the next Talk About Art interview June 9, at 2 p.m. at the Glen Arbor Arts Center, 6031 S. Lake St., Glen Arbor.

I heat with wood. Most of us up here do. Wood is still cheaper than any other fuel, and it’s available. Some of us cut our own wood, but to do that you have to have a woodlot, a truck, a saw in good condition, and time. My husband and I cut our own wood one winter, but in retrospect it seems like that’s all we did.