Thursday, August 31, 2006

212/365 Another Stephen

buys Tim’s watercolor of the spot we all spotted a merlin—the first painting he’s ever purchased. Once home, we uncover Stephen’s true identity: Tim read his book in college, like, nine times. We’ve unknowingly spent the week with one of Tim’s academic heroes.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

211/365 William

He’s older than he looks, having inherited the height gene from his four-foot-ten-inch mother, who tells me he was conceived at Northbrook, most likely in the very room I occupy each year (alternatively, in canoe-accessible wilds). What luck to have your very beginnings here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

210/365 Elizabeth

Katrina took her Mississippi family home, where her brother still lived. Elizabeth went to dredge things from its remaining nothingness. She’s made many trips, tells us we wouldn’t believe it. Her sister’s home in New Orleans was spared. But what now is New Orleans?

Monday, August 28, 2006

209/365 Another Wayne

Geologist-turned-database-analyst, Wayne missed his true calling as massage therapist. With magic hands, he grinds the rocks my body holds, wearing them down like so much water over so many years. Our annual vacation provides opportunity for me to abuse my right to be rubbed.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

208/365 Another Tim

is bassmaster of Osgood Pond. An unfortunate treble-hook tangle with a pike he wasn’t going to keep left the fish dead. Tim felt bad, but threw it back in the water. He soon heard a splash. The local eagle had snagged it for breakfast.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

207/365 Rosemarie

Her boundless enthusiasm for everything is infectious. She is wonder personified. We hike around Black Pond, and she marvels at the many-sized toads I’m showing her. But I’m first on the trail, and they are just jumping clear of me as I lumber along.

Friday, August 25, 2006

206/365 Another Teresa

The justice of the peace looked alarmed. When she began, “Marriage is an institution not to be entered into lightly,” our sole witness began to laugh—and laughed throughout our obey-free vows. After, I reassured the JP, “Don’t worry. We’re having an October wedding.”

Thursday, August 24, 2006

205/365 A Fifth Tom

When his martini shaker sounded his arrival at the Osgood Pond point, and he could tell me where to look for black-backed woodpeckers, I knew I would like him. He loved lady’s slippers, winter wrens, merlins, Hilary Hahn Plays Bach, and his wife Jinki.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

204/365 Laura-Jean

When Bill left Northbrook to her, we were all relieved, hoping she’d run it for years to come. She’s now mother of three, professor, actress. She never rests. We hold our breath. Who could keep up the pace? I recall her athletics as Puck.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

203/365 Mary Lou

The widowed Bill got married. Mary Lou was no stranger to the outdoors and hard work. She commanded the housekeeping staff with grace and gave his daughter space to run the place. When Mary Lou died, a decade after Bill, we were all stunned.

Monday, August 21, 2006

202/365 A Third Bill

bought Northbrook Lodge in ’52. We knew him only a half-dozen summers. One night he sat down with us after dinner, explaining about his kidneys, the dialysis. It was goodbye. He looked like a sea captain to me: white hair and beard, wild eyes.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

201/365 Phoebe

is both practical and spiritual advisor who cared for me that commuter-marriage year. “I have to visit the Dürer bunny,” I’d euphemize at her house, where a reproduction of the hare hung in her bathroom. My going-away present: my own, to hang in mine.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


It’s the summer camp I never had as a kid, the one with the boathouse, a pool table, meals. A big stone porch. Adirondack chairs overlooking the lake. Friends you see every year. Canoeing, hiking, fishing, birding. Happy hour. And books. Lots of books.

Fellow 365ers: I’m off for a week but have posted ahead. I hope to return with 365s of Northbrook characters.

In the words of Christopher Robin:



200/365 Pierre

Could it be that on a dark night, in a cabin miles from the nearest road or neighbor, so many of us could entertain paranormal possibility in the face of strange sounds and dead phone lines? Pierre even dragged chains across an outside wall.

Friday, August 18, 2006

199/365 Margaret

She married Tom, but life hasn’t conspired to create enough time and space for us to know one another. Miles separate us, and kids, and competitive schedules. I envision us sitting by a lake, cold drinks at the ready, doing our own conspiring. Someday.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

198/365 Nancy

When Beth and I met Nancy and Cheryl, we had a great fourfriendssome going. In a sudden coup d’état, Nancy snagged Beth, turning against Cheryl and me. She insisted we were two and two now, enemies. Hadn’t we all been having a good time?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

197/365 A Fifth Dave

In college he had a motorcycle and a rabbit named Stew. Our minds were both in the gutter, and the double entendre flowed freely. He had right-wing politics, but Amy, the one-time anarchist, married him. That’s over now. Will I ever see him again?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

196/365 Artie

One contradance with him: He suggested that when we return to each other to swing, we make the face of the person we’d just swung. Creative? Mean-spirited? It’s amazing I could breathe well enough to dance through the giggles. Luckily, Artie could really swing.

Monday, August 14, 2006

195/365 Another David

When two introverts are in the same room, surrounded by a family generally stuffing itself into a coma, there’s often little interaction. But despite conservative family influences, I think I’d really like my nephew if I knew him: soccer freak, fellow Jon Stewart fan.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

194/365 A Fourth Dave

He’s always planned to retire at fifty. Four years away, he claims to still be on track. As someone who may never get to retire, I can’t imagine being in this position; nor can I imagine living the life he’s led to get here.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

193/365 Another Richard

He’s organist, pianist, composer, keyboardist for a McCartney tribute band. He’s had hymns published. There’s a beautiful woman with him when he shows up at the candlelight service, home from Chicago. That this relationship has lasted til Christmas has made him a happy man.

Friday, August 11, 2006

192/365 Beth

She was Queen of the Impossible Crush: Donny Osmond, our camp counselor Bernie. She’d create elaborate fantasies with faraway boyfriends, boyfriends no one would ever meet, but she’d show us the letters, in handwriting very much like hers. She claimed even Donny was interested.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

191/365 Robert

We had little in common. He was a maintenance guy; I, a lowly proofreader. But walking the halls of the formal mausoleum-looking building, we had a ritual. “S-H-I-T,” I’d greet him once a week: so happy it’s Thursday. “So happy,” he’d agree, and smile.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

190/365 Marty

Knowing what answer he wanted when he asked the question, I panicked, then lied. And if I needed to lie, we were already doomed. Our bond could never be as strong as the Clear/Blue Stren he’d playfully knotted into a bracelet around my wrist.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

189/365 Roseanne

My chiropractor’s back from maternity leave. After six months, my neck cracks with abandon. Jody managed only little releases with me, not big ones like I get with Roseanne. What? Well, yes, I know what that sounds like, but this is all cervical discourse.

Monday, August 07, 2006

188/365 Sheila

After seven years, I see her at an art exhibit. She still looks like Madonna. Her daughters—whose old room’s still home to their sleeping-animals mural and now my NordicTrack—aren’t little anymore. It hurt her to lose the house. Her house. My house.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

187/365 Howie

He calls his son with fish stories. It’s what they have in common. Not politics. Not religion. Not sales and insurance. Not sports. Bass, pike, walleye, muskie, the occasional striper or bluefish. It may not be much. But it may not need to be.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

186/365 Aidan

Both times I rode an elephant, I was with her. If I’m at the swimming hole, chances are she is. When I drink champagne, she’s often right there chomping Pirate’s Booty. She’s usually the only kid around, and she’s got dirt on us all.

Friday, August 04, 2006

185/365 A Fourth Martha

Holding her daughter, Martha laments the post-Emily state of her body; her four swimsuits no longer fit. A sweltering day and power outage have brought us all to the river, and in her curvaceous loveliness, Martha wins the silent wet T-shirt contest, hands down.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

184/365 Another Linda

Poet. Historian. Performer. Linda’s all three. Donning cowboy boots, I go to hear her and Ursula speak about Frontier House. Linda notices my footwear and is quick to tell me about her 1970s Tony Lamas. Tony or Dalai, either way, this woman’d be comfortable.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

183/365 Ursula

I can’t fathom her life as mother of six before she and Linda left Montana for Vermont. They tell the stories of pioneer women, in books and storied lecture. Ursula’s an editor, like me. There are many reasons to want to be like her.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

182/365 Heidi

When I find out she’s into roller derby, I’m enthralled. I get nostalgic over moving fast in a rink. We talk packs, jams, pivots, blockers, and jammers; I try to grasp it. Her team’s working on the revival. I have to see this game.