Rainy Morning in Houghton

April 18, 2012

It’s a cold, rainy morning in Houghton, Michigan.  I’m looking out a fifth floor motel window at the canal that divides Houghton from Hancock and at the Ranger III, which will start taking visitors to Isle Royale National Park soon.  Across the canal there are some  old red brick buildings that make me think of copper mining and ore boats, and a steep rocky hillside behind them.

I love this view and could sit here all day, but soon we’ll be off to practical things like taking our truck to get serviced.  In the meantime, I’m sipping a latte from Cyberia Cafe and feeling content to be in one of my favorite towns anywhere.

I wonder what it is about places that makes us love them.  In Houghton I’m in love with the rocky hills, the old brick buildings and narrow brick streets downtown, the canal and its boats, the history that seems to lie around everywhere like chunks of rock on the ground.  It’s the kind of place that makes me want to write a story.

I felt the same way giving a book talk on the second floor of Peter White Public Library in Marquette last night.  Outside the windows, Lake Superior stretched out forever under the evening sun.  Inside, a crowd of readers treated me with warmth and kindness.  I felt lucky, and happy.  I felt like trying to express the inexpressible:  how much I love the U.P. and its people.  I want to thank everyone who came  for making my first appearance this year feel like a big family reunion.  I also want to thank the Michigan Notable Book program for choosing SOUTH OF SUPERIOR as a Michigan Notable Book this year.  I’m honored, and thrilled.

Category: Life 18 comments »

18 Responses to “Rainy Morning in Houghton”

  1. Tim VanderVeen

    Ellen; What a pleasure it was to chat with you last night. I am thankful for the inadvertant nudge you gave me to resume my own writing. At least 10 minutes a day.
    I continue to enjoy “South of Superior” and find myself reading well into the night. I know there is some prime time TV I might enjoy, but I am enjoying the trip your book has taken me on. Keep up the writing and thanks again for sharing your experience last night at the Peter White Library, It was my first exploration of the library as well so for that I thank you. ‘Safe travels and may the ink continue to flow, putting your insight and feelings on the page.
    Tim VanderVeen

  2. Mary Airgood Vecellio

    I was so excited to see you hit the Michigan Notable Book list!!! Our initial order for your trade paperback release is 12 copies… That is a lot!!! I plan on handselling it when it comes in!!!

  3. ellenair

    Tim, I had a wonderful time at the library and enjoyed talking with you. Keep writing!

  4. ellenair

    Thanks, Mary! I’m thrilled about the Michigan Notable Book award. And thank you for the hand selling, too!

  5. Pamela Grath

    Ellen, we (David and I) are so excited about the Michigan Notable Book award! Not surprised, of course–how could SOUTH OF SUPERIOR not be chosen?

    As for Houghton and the canal, I have thought, when there, that I could live happily in that town, watching traffic on the canal and climbing the steep, rocky hills.

    Sending love to you and yours–


  6. ellenair

    Pamela–and David–thank you so much! I love hearing that you love Houghton like I do. XO, Ellen

  7. Suzi Banks Baum

    Ellen, I would love to explore a UP town with you…write parallel tales set in the same camp or something. Twin Birches it could be called. My friend Gen O’Leary wrote the story of her mother’s early life in the UP titled “Northern Lights: Sassy’s Story”. See if you can find it and if not, let me know and I will send you my copy. My Grandma was born in a building along the train tracks in New Swanzy where her father, my Great Grandfather, I guess, was in charge of the track there. I love hearing about the UP from you. Have you glimpsed the Aurora Borealis at all? Love, Suzi

  8. ellenair

    Suzi–sounds great!

  9. Lori

    Ellen, I just read this and got the biggest smile! I love Houghton and I’m sure I’ve looked out the same window as yourself. The old copper mines are amazing and the tours really set you back. Our oldest daughter lives on top of the hill in Hancock and the view is incredible. I would love to have the time to swing through to see you on our way up but each trip we don’t have much time and the drive is already close to 9 hours. I’m so happy for you and wish you as much success with your next release.

  10. ellenair

    Thank you, Lori!

  11. Marion Gilles

    Can’t wait to read South of Superior. I picked your book up at Costco in Glendale, Az tonight and will be reading it on our trip back to the UP this weekend.

  12. ellenair

    Marion, It’s fun to hear of the book from such a faraway place as AZ. I hope you will enjoy it!

  13. Jean Waarala Rezabek

    Hi, Ellen, what can I say? Finnish, born in Hancock, read your book (mailed to me from my sister in Tucson), my book club selection for Oct. 2012, I think I looked out that same Houghton window in 1964, could that be? Same view! Jean

  14. ellenair

    It’s a great view!

  15. cheryl wallace

    Just finished your book South of Superior. Loved it. It is my choice for my bookclub. I live in N Minnesota but grew up in Calumet, MI. I am 100% Finn and I LOVE Lake Superior so I felt drawn into the story. Can’t wait to see what the rest of my bookclub thinks. Thank you for the wonderful memories…

  16. ellenair

    Cheryl, Thank you, this is great news. I hope the rest of the members of your book club will like the book too!

  17. Marie Queener

    Thank you for a truly wonderful read! I just finished South of Superior, having found it at my local BJ’s! What a treat! My husband and I have been to the UP and specifically to Grand Marais three times and are hoping to get back there again, and also we want to explore the Keewenaw. Your descriptions of the UP painted such amazing mental pictures for me, and I loved all of your characters. I will be sure to pick up your new book.
    Thank you so much!

  18. ellenair

    Thank you, Marie! I’m so glad you enjoyed the novel.

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