Saturday, April 16, 2016
Hartland Sundries, 4
Final installment of little series about my experiences in Hartland, Mich., where I went earlier this week for a few days to talk about Jack London and The Call of the Wild.
1. Well, I'm back home safely--weary but generally happy with the experiences I had in Hartland, where the people were uniformly generous and helpful--at the middle school, at the Cromaine Library.
2. On Thursday evening at the library I did a presentation on Wild (PowerPoint and chat) for a very nice group of adults, almost all of whom, I'd say, were in the Ballpark of Age where I play. Probably not time for yet another comment (cliche?) about how reading as entertainment/education is more and more becoming an activity of the older? I know: Lots of kids read--I met some of them at the middle school. But ... overall? The digital, social culture is far too powerful for many of them, just as it probably would have been for me had I grown up in such a glowing-screen world as this. Of course, in my youth, the (reading) adults raged about comic books and TV and Elvis, about how they were destroying the Youth of America ...
3. The town of Hartland itself is very small. Having spent my early and later adolescence in equally tiny Hiram, Ohio, I felt right at home geographically. But out near the freeway (US 23) where I stayed at the Best Western (a mile or so away), it was all big box stores, chain restaurants, madness and speed. It looked like anywhere and everywhere in the USA. With all the advantages and disadvantages of same. (When you're traveling, it's nice to know what's available, you know? So I knew I could get a McD's parfait for lunch; I did. For supper, I knew I could get a decent turkey sub at Subway; I did (honey oat bread!). But one grieves for the great difficulty of independent merchants to compete in such an atmosphere.
4. And I must say that when I left early on Friday morning (after the "free" breakfast buffet at the BW), and when I drove out onto US 23, I was weary, yes, but soon frightened. I could not believe how fast people were driving, how rarely they used their turn signals, how recklessly they veered in and out of lanes when someone ahead of them (yours truly) was not driving at a speed sufficiently NASCARian to satisfy them. I saw only a few patrol cars--not nearly enough, in my view!
5. Anyway, I had a grand time (if enervating), and I want to thank librarian Mary Howard for coordinating it all. Hartland, I learned, has hosted nearly 10 Big Read events (sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts)--quite an achievement. And well deserved.
Some scenes from Hartland, Michigan ...