Last week Lynn and Lon Emerick were honored as the Outstanding Writer at the Marquette County Arts Awards. They are the authors of numerous books and have been very active in promoting writing and publishing in the Upper Peninsula, including through the U.P. Publishers and Authors Association.
So I thought it a good time to repost a book review I wrote for Lon’s book Paradise North, which originally appeared in the Marquette Monthly and is reprinted here with permission.
Congratulations again, Lynn and Lon!
Paradise North: Seasons in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
by Lon L. Emerick
In his latest book, Lon Emerick, longtime contributor to MM and author of many favorite books, including The Superior Peninsula and You Wouldn’t Like It Here, has written the Walden for Upper Michigan. Emerick aptly names this book Paradise North, but while the book explores the magic of the U.P. through its diverse and beautiful seasons as well as the best activities and places to celebrate them, it also reflects environmental and nature preservation needs.
Nature obviously is important to Emerick, and so is experiencing it in the proper way, on its own terms, the only way we can truly come to appreciate and fully enjoy it.
Quite the twenty-first century Thoreau, Emerick frequently goes to the woods to find peace and reconnect with nature. He escapes to camp after long academic weeks. He avoids noise and gadgets, and he serves as a guide to others on nature adventures. He asks us to leave behind the modern world when we enter nature, quoting Thoreau as saying, “What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?”
As for modern gadgets, leave them at home when you venture forth. Emerick admits to becoming a bit “unglued” during one experience when a woman on a hike tried to tell him, pointing at a GPS, “We are right here!” Emerick exclaimed, “We are not ‘right there’ on the GPS, we are right here.” And then he informed his group to, “Look, listen, smell….See the mist rising near Ewing Point; smell the woods coming to life; listen to that thrush sing his wondrous melody. Be here, in this real place—not on the map.”
Readers will find themselves present with Emerick in each season. Each section covers a season and consists of eight essays, some of which appeared previously in MM. In addition, a letter to prospective U.P. immigrants lays out the “Code of the North.” Numerous illustrations and color photographs capture the northern beauty that even Emerick’s words cannot always describe fully. Emerick also reprints Mark Mitchell’s “Discovering” song, which many readers will agree is, as Emerick dubs it, the “U.P. Anthem.”
As I read, I left my armchair to venture with Emerick into the woods, or walk down a country road, or have pie at the Berry Patch Café in Paradise (Michigan)—while trying to ignore the opinionated troll at the next table—although Emerick finds he cannot ignore such ignorance. Minus the troll, the reading experience was enough to make me feel and see the shadows of the trees across the snow, to smell the crunching autumn leaves, to marvel over the million intricate details of nature as it renews itself each spring. Emerick is a worthy travel companion through nature.
Beyond capturing our U.P. paradise, Emerick reminds us that this paradise must be respected and preserved. He advocates fair hunting, he and wife Lynn have planted “Save the U.P.” flags on each of the U.P.’s corners to remind people to preserve the land for future generations, and he defends our rights to fresh water against mining companies that would threaten it for short-term profit.
Join Lon Emerick in Paradise and learn from the white pine, relax at camp, watch the chickadees, catch falling leaves for luck and experience the comfort of being bonded to a landscape. Emerick provides some wise-yet-humorous maxims to conclude the journey, including “Keep separate what you do for a living from who you are as a person” and “Don’t wear your raincoat in the shower.” In Paradise North, the sage of the U.P.’s woods and waters has spoken.
To learn more about Lon and Lynn Emerick’s works, visit www.northcountrypublishing.com.