Posted tagged ‘Spirit of the North’

What’s the Best Order to Read My Marquette Novels?

December 17, 2013

When I do book signings, I’m often asked what is the best order in which to read my Marquette novels. The answer to that question depends on how readers want to experience my books.

Tyler at the TV6 Christmas Craft Show in Marquette, December 2013

Tyler at the TV6 Christmas Craft Show in Marquette, December 2013

I’m not the first author to encounter this kind of question. Debates, for example, continue over the proper order for reading C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles. Most people read them in the order they were published, beginning with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. However, other fans believe they should be read beginning with The Magician’s Nephew, the sixth book published, but the first chronologically. A similar conundrum could exist for my books. In fact, three different orders could be given for them as follows, depending on the experience readers want to have.

Publication Order

This order is probably the most logical and the one in which any of my longtime readers will have experienced the books. The order of my novels’ publication is:

  1. Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy: Book One (Feb 2006)
  2. The Queen City, The Marquette Trilogy: Book Two (Aug 2006)
  3. Superior Heritage, The Marquette Trilogy: Book Three (2007)
  4. Narrow Lives (2008)
  5. The Only Thing That Lasts (2009)
  6. Spirit of the North (2012)
  7. The Best Place (2013)

Chronological Order

This order is more difficult to determine since the timeframes of some of the books overlap with one another. I’ve listed below the years of the storylines in each book. I’ll leave it up to readers whether they want to read just specific sections of The Marquette Trilogy books and then set a volume aside halfway to read another book that fits within that timeframe.

  1. Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy: Book One (1849-1897)
  2. Spirit of the North (1873-1900)
  3. The Queen City, The Marquette Trilogy: Book Two (1902-1949)
  4. The Only Thing That Lasts (1917-1934)
  5. Narrow Lives (1915-1963; Note: Although this book chronologically starts in 1915 as opposed to 1917 for The Only Thing That Lasts, the stories are not in chronological order, but follow the pattern 1924, 1929, 1915, 1921, 1942, 1963, 1929-1964; since so many of these stories take place after The Only Thing That Lasts, it makes sense to read that book before Narrow Lives.)
  6. Superior Heritage, The Marquette Trilogy: Book Three (1952-1999)
  7. The Best Place (2005, with flashbacks covering 1938-2005)

Written Order

It’s equally hard to be specific about the order I wrote these books in, especially with The Marquette Trilogy. I intended to write one book but it became three so it was written in various pieces and I jumped around as I wrote it (it could be considered one book in itself for that reason). The advantage to reading the books in the order they were written is that you can see how my conception of my characters evolved over the years and how I expanded and came to define my fictional version of Marquette and its people. The order in which the books were written is:

  1. The Only Thing That Lasts (1987-1990; significant revisions made in 2005)
  2. Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy: Book One (1999-2004)
  3. The Queen City, The Marquette Trilogy: Book Two (1999-2004)
  4. Superior Heritage, The Marquette Trilogy: Book Three (1999-2004)
  5. Narrow Lives (2001-2004; although the first two stories “Cecilia” and “Danielle” had earlier versions written in 1992)
  6. Spirit of the North (2004-2005)
  7. The Best Place (2006-2013)

Author’s Pick

In which order would I personally suggest? I would read them in order of publication since I published them in that order because I thought it was the best way to present the series. For me, it makes sense to read The Marquette Trilogy first and then read the other novels since they are designed as stand-alone books but they also fill in parts of The Marquette Trilogy and will be more meaningful to readers who have already read the trilogy.

In whatever order you do decide to read my books, I appreciate you being one of my readers and I hope you will enjoy them.

You can learn more about all of them at

The Best Place – The First Book Review

July 9, 2013

I was thrilled to receive my first book review for my new book The Best Place, and from one of my favorite U.P. authors, Jenifer Brady, author of the Abby’s Camp Days series. You can check out Jenifer’s books at her website:

I can’t tell you how much it means to an author to receive a good book review, and they are harder and harder to get these days since newspapers and other publications have largely quit printing them. If you like a book, the best way you can say thank you to the author besides telling everyone you know about the book is to write a book review. It doesn’t need to be long. Just a few sentences at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or on your blog or Facebook page will do the job. I encourage you all to support U.P. authors and any other favorite authors you have by writing them honest reviews of their books.

With Jenifer Brady’s permission, I am reprinting the review she wrote for me at Amazon below:

TheBestPlaceI think I’ve read every one of Tyler Tichelaar’s books set in Marquette, MI, and this one was my favorite so far, in large part because of the narrator, Lyla Hopewell. The book is told through the viewpoint of this feisty, hilarious 77-year-old lady, and she’s just a riot–very entertaining to read. I found myself laughing quite a bit as I read, not because of the subjects this novel tackles (some were quite heart-wrenching like feelings of abandonment, orphanage life, and family strife) but because Lyla has this way of speaking her mind throughout the narration that draws you in and makes you chuckle no matter what topic she is talking about. She pretty much says what you’re thinking about certain subjects but are too polite to point out yourself.

I’m always impressed when an author can write a viewpoint that is vastly different from their own, and as I was reading, I had to keep reminding myself that this book wasn’t actually written by an elderly lady.

I also enjoyed seeing some of my favorite characters from previous books. I like when authors continue on with their characters because when I close a book, I always wonder what happens after “The End.” I liked getting to see John, the hero from the third Marquette Trilogy book, and his young family, as well as Sibyl from Spirit of the North. There are even a few surprises from old characters that I didn’t see coming.

I had read about Lyla in other Marquette books, but I didn’t really get to know her until this one. She might appear to be a bit gruff on the surface, but once you get to know her, you’ll see that she exemplifies the heart and Sisu of a true Yooper!


“Enoch and Sabrina, or The Demon Lover”

October 27, 2012

For Halloween, I’m posting a ghost story that is told in my recent novel Spirit of the North: a paranormal romance. It’s a story within a story, and is told by Mr. Whitman at the Whitmans’ boarding house to the novel’s main characters Adele and Barbara Traugott:

“Why, Pa!” Edna then perked up. “I had forgotten it was Halloween. You should tell us one of your ghost stories.”

“Oh no, your mother wouldn’t like that,” he replied.

   “I bet you could tell us one before she even finishes cleaning up.”

Mr. Whitman raised his eyebrows to suggest Edna should be helping her mother, but she said, “Mother told me to come in here and entertain the Miss Traugotts, but your stories are far more entertaining than my conversation, and it is Halloween, Pa.”

“Very well,” he said. He had filled his pipe with tobacco as his daughter spoke. Now he lit it, took a good puff, and exhaled enough smoke to raise a sinister fog along the New England coast where his tale took place.

“Now this story,” he began, “was told to me by my Grandfather Whitman when I was young. It dates back to the beginning of this century, and every word of it is true. It concerns a young man named Enoch, and Sabrina, the pretty young girl who had the misfortune to love him. They had grown up in the same little seaside town—known each other since birth in fact, and gone to school together—and when they came of age, they fell in love, and there was talk of their marrying.

“Now Enoch was by no means a handsome boy, and he was not strong or athletic like most of the other young men, but he had a tall figure that stood out in a crowd, and his hard features suggested a determination not really there. Some say he had a little scar over his lip where his older brother had once struck him with a rock when he was a boy—I don’t know whether that’s true or not, since I was not there, but what is true—and you can verify this in the town’s records—is that his older brother went missing for several days, and when his body was found, it was lying on some rocks along a cliff above the sea. The townsfolk whispered that Enoch had murdered his brother to get revenge for that scar, but it’s just as likely his brother’s death was an accident and no fault of Enoch’s.

“Sabrina paid no heed to any ill rumors about the young man. She had her heart set on Enoch, and he had his heart set on her, and none of their parents was opposed to the match. But that spring, Enoch’s mother and father both died of the diphtheria, and then that summer, a terrible drought struck. Now Enoch had been raised a farmer, but his father had done all the hard work on the farm, and with his parents no longer there to keep a steady eye on him, he did not care for the crops as he should. The long and the short of it is that his crops failed, and ultimately, he knew he could not make a go of the farm. Plenty of other farmers had a hard time that year, but they struggled and got by, while the determination that appeared on Enoch’s brow did not compensate for the weakness of his character and his lack of backbone. Finally, he confessed to Sabrina that he wanted nothing to do with hard dirty work like farming, so he was going to sell the farm and seek his fortune elsewhere.

“Sabrina’s parents were beside themselves with dread when they heard this, for they did not know how Enoch would support their daughter. They had two sons of their own who were to split the farm between them, so Sabrina was expected to find a husband to care for her. When her parents considered breaking off the engagement, Sabrina flew into a fury, declaring if she could not marry Enoch, she would marry no man but throw herself off the same cliff that had caused the death of Enoch’s brother so the ocean would swallow her body for all time.

“As you can imagine, Sabrina’s parents were frightened by her outburst, for they truly believed their daughter meant to destroy herself if they did not let her wed Enoch. They told themselves the boy was young and foolish, but he came from a good family, and in time, he would settle down; they would do what they could for the young couple in the meantime.

“And so one day in early spring, Sabrina and Enoch were married, and a few weeks later, he went off to sea. He promised Sabrina he would make his fortune and come home with enough money to buy ten farms, or better yet, they might start up a tavern in the town, or even their own shipping business. Sabrina, because of the great love she bore for Enoch, allowed her soul to be fed on such dreams, while her parents worried their daughter and her unsteady husband would starve after they had gone to their reward.

“Well, Enoch’s ship sailed off—out to the South Seas it was. The summer and the autumn passed and then the winter came. An entire year went by, and in that time, not one letter came home from Enoch. You can imagine Sabrina’s anxiety and excitement when the ship finally sailed back into the harbor, but I don’t think any of us can imagine her disappointment when all the other sailors disembarked from the ship, yet no Enoch appeared.

“One young man on the ship was a couple of years older than Enoch and had known him since their schooldays. When Enoch’s brother had died, this young man had taken it upon himself to look after Enoch; it was said when one of the other boys at school had called Enoch a murderer because of his dead brother, this older boy had thrashed the accuser so hard no one else ever dared whisper such a rumor again. This young man was the last to come off the ship that day, and when he saw Sabrina standing on the dock, her eyes welling up with tears, he hated to be the one to tell her, but he felt it was his duty.

“‘Enoch decided to leave us,’ he told Sabrina, ‘in a foreign port’—I forget the name of it now—‘he…’ and then the man paused, trying to find words to soften the blow, but Sabrina could not bear the silence, and suddenly, everyone on the dock heard her shout out, ‘Why? Why? Where’s my Enoch?’

“So the young man quickly put his arm around her and led her from the crowd, and then to calm her, he said, ‘Enoch has great prospects. He believes he can make his fortune in that place, and—’

“‘How?’ she demanded, for in her heart, Sabrina had begun to doubt Enoch’s fidelity.

“‘He has a plan,’ said the young man. ‘He thought he’d start up a plantation there—pineapples and bananas—and he’ll make a great deal of money. He’s just starting out now, so he told me to give you all his love, and to ask you to be patient. He’s going to send for you to come to him just as soon as he can. He kept asking me to tell you that he loves you very much.’

“Sabrina tried to find comfort in these words. She let the young man walk her home to her parents’ house, and there he told the same story again, and her family politely thanked him and then let him go home to his own folks.

“But Sabrina’s family was not pleased. ‘Who does Enoch think he is to expect our sister to live in the wild with him?’ and ‘I don’t believe any of it—it’s all lies,’ said her brothers, and her mother confessed, ‘I always did fear that boy would come to no good.’ But her father only put his arm around Sabrina and consoled her by saying, ‘We can’t say whether his plans are right or wrong until we know more. We’ll just have to wait for word from him.’

“They waited all that next spring, and that summer, and into the autumn, and when winter came again, and they knew no word could reach them in those months because of the storms at sea, all their spirits fell, and in her heart, Sabrina began to doubt Enoch would return—she feared he might have died—that’s what she told herself—that’s what she almost hoped had happened, for the other possibility would have been just too much for her to bear.

“Now the other sailors who had been on Enoch’s ship had gone out again that spring, but when the next winter came and ice froze along the shores so it was not safe for ships to sail, the sailors had nothing better to do but drink in the tavern, drink and talk, and the drink loosened their tongues so that they said things perhaps they should not have. That’s when it came out—rumors that Enoch had gone native. When Sabrina’s brothers heard these stories, they feared they must be true because Enoch’s friend would have spoken out against such rumors if they were not, and soon Enoch’s friend quit coming to the tavern, ashamed perhaps to have been friends with such a one as Enoch.”

“What do you mean by ‘gone native’?” Adele interrupted Mr. Whitman.

“Well,” giggled Mr. Whitman. “I don’t know whether I should say in front of young ladies—but I guess I mean he went to live with the natives and follow their ways.”

“You mean with the savages?” asked one of the shopgirls.

“I don’t know whether they were savages or not,” said Mr. Whitman, “but the rumors were that he had gone to live among them, and some even said that he had taken a woman from among them.”

“Oh my!” said Adele.

My sense of propriety at that moment made me want to get up and leave the room; I would have expected Mr. Whitman to have a better sense of decorum, but I also perversely found myself wanting to know what had happened to the poor Sabrina.

“The brothers kept all these rumors from their sister,” Mr. Whitman said, “but I imagine some of the sailors told their own wives and fiancées, and you know how women talk, and so I’m sure if these rumors never actually reached Sabrina’s ears, she sensed the rest of the town knew Enoch had done something disgraceful, and her heart broke over it.

“The years passed, and Sabrina’s parents died. Her brothers married and started families of their own, and they prospered enough to build their own homes while Sabrina continued to live alone in her parents’ house. Her brothers begged her to come live with them, but she refused. She could no longer find joy in human companionship. Her house was near the ocean, and so she had a widow’s walk built upon the roof, and they say in the evenings at dusk, she could be seen pacing about there; sometimes she would walk the entire night while the rest of the town slept, for she craved no human company save that of her Enoch, and he was absent. Those children who dared creep near the house at night to catch a glimpse of the mysterious solitary woman said they heard her weeping and begging God to bring back her lover. That is when the story began to grow truly strange.

“The young man who had been Enoch’s friend had grown to love Sabrina, perhaps out of compassion for her pain, perhaps because he had always loved her, but he had been too loyal a friend to Enoch to speak earlier. Finally, he went to Sabrina and explained to her how unlikely it was that Enoch would ever return, that enough time had passed to presume Enoch was dead, and that if Sabrina would have him, he would be honored to marry her and care for her the rest of their days.

“Sabrina thanked him, but she refused his offer. She continued to live in that house alone, and after a few years, the young man gave up waiting for her and married another. He became a good husband and father, but the townsfolk whispered it was always Sabrina whom he truly loved.

“And then one night, many years after the day Enoch had sailed away, when Sabrina’s beauty had begun to fade, and she had shut herself up so that scarcely anyone ever saw her, the townsfolk heard a piercing scream coming from her house. When they ran and knocked on her door, there was no answer, but the screaming continued until finally, Sabrina’s brothers broke in through a window and went upstairs. They found their sister sitting up in bed, her hair turned gray overnight, her face pale with horror, blood soaking through all her bed sheets. She stood staring out the window, shrieking so that her brothers could barely stand it, and it took them several minutes before they could shake her enough to bring her to her senses.

“Some said she had tried to kill herself—to slit her wrists—though her brothers refused to let a doctor see her. I don’t know why they didn’t send for the doctor, but people say it was because they were afraid to know the truth about what had happened to her; others say she had not hurt herself, for there was a woman who came to clean for her, and she told everyone she had seen no scars on Sabrina’s wrists the next day.

“I hesitate to mention this part, but Sabrina was clearly mad after that night, such that her brothers ordered her tied to her bed so she would not hurt herself, and often she would thrash about in the bed, screaming out Enoch’s name. Most frightening of all, some say she went mad because her prayers had been answered—that Enoch had returned to her—only it was not the flesh and blood Enoch, but his ghost—come back to claim his wife in their bed.

“Really, Father!” said Edna, but I could see a smirk of pleasure on her face.

“Now, I’m only repeating the story the way my grandfather told it to me, and whether it is true, who is to say,” Mr. Whitman replied. “Anyway, after that, Sabrina grew weaker and weaker, and though she thrashed about in the bed for several more nights, soon she wasted away until she died before the year was out.

“Her brothers boarded up the house after she died, for they could not bear to go near it, their pain was so great, and they were too sentimental to sell or tear down their childhood home.

“And it is still said that to this day, Sabrina’s steps can be heard at night, pacing up and down the widow’s walk, and sometimes, a scream is heard in the night, and while some say it is just the wind during a storm at sea, no one can prove that it is not Sabrina, crying for her demon lover.”

Everyone was silent after Mr. Whitman finished his tale. I thought it completely distasteful and wanted to go upstairs to bed all the more now except that Mrs. Whitman had still not come in with the pie and coffee.

After a couple of minutes, Edna said, “It’s such a sad story.”

“Rather freakish,” laughed Mr. Wainscott. “I mean, especially that a dead man would come back to torture his wife like that.”

“I don’t believe it would have happened that way,” Adele said. “I can believe part of it—that Enoch might have come back to her, or that her ghost haunts the house because she still longs for him—I believe people can love like that, but I don’t believe he would return as her demon lover. If anything, I think he would have come back, repentant for deserting her, and if she saw his ghost, it would only show how great love is, that whatever our sins, we can make peace with one another after death.”

“What a romantic idea,” Edna said. “It’s like something out of a Brontë novel.”

It was on the tip of my tongue to say the whole story was ridiculous when Mrs. Whitman appeared with the coffee. She handed me my cup first, then gave a cup to one of the shopgirls, who rather than thanking her, said, “Mr. Whitman has been frightening us with ghost stories, so it won’t be the coffee that keeps me awake tonight.”

“Nathaniel, you and your ghosts,” Mrs. Whitman frowned.

“What? It’s Halloween after all,” he said.

“That any Christian man would find pleasure on the devil’s day,” his wife scolded. “And these poor young ladies mourning their uncle—you’ll have them so frightened they won’t dare go live in the woods, though perhaps that would be a good thing.”

“It really wasn’t that frightening,” Adele said. “It was more of a love story.”

“Well, I don’t know whether that makes it any better or any more true,” Mrs. Whitman replied. “Those love stories are all make-believe and can do a great deal of harm.”
For more about Spirit of the North: a paranormal romance, visit

My Latest Book Events and Buzz for “Spirit of the North”

July 14, 2012

Spirit of the North: a paranormal romance

My new novel Spirit of the North: a paranormal romance is receiving great reviews and publicity. Readers are telling me it is their favorite of all my books, and they love that many of the characters from my first book Iron Pioneers reappear in it. Here are some of the reviews and interviews I’ve done recently:

If you don’t have a copy of Spirit of the North yet, you can get one at my website Marquette Fiction (links are provided there to e-book versions), or you can find me this summer at:

Waterpalooza, a Lake Superior Day Celebration, Mattson Lower Harbor Park on Sun. July 15th from 11-8. I’ll be joined by U.P. authors Donna Winters of the Great Lakes Romances series and Gretchen Preston, author of the children’s Valley Cats series. (Both of them have been interviewed here on my blog in the past)

Outback Art Fair at Picnic Rocks in Marquette, Michigan on Sat. July 28th from 10-6 and Sun. July 29th from 11-4.

Negaunee Senior Center, Negaunee, MI – I’ll be giving a talk about local history on Wed. August 1st at Noon.

Art on the Lake in Curtis, Michigan at the Erickson Center on Sat., September 1st
from 10-5.

And if you feel lucky, you can also try to win a copy of Spirit of North by signing up for the July Reader Views Book Giveaway.

Thank you for reading and have a great summer filled with books!

My Sixth Novel “Spirit of the North: a paranormal romance” is on sale now.

April 5, 2012

Tale of Marquette’s First Ghost Told in New Historical Novel

 From automated writing and secrets in the deep north woods, to ghosts, folklore, and reincarnation, Tyler R. Tichelaar’s new paranormal romance “Spirit of the North” offers an old-fashioned story with an extraordinary new vision of life.

Marquette, MI April 1, 2012—Forced to spend the winter alone in a northern woods cabin in 1873 Upper Michigan, sisters Barbara and Adele Traugott battle the elements and their own fears to discover the miracle of their own being in Tyler R. Tichelaar’s new novel “Spirit of the North” (9780979179068, Marquette Fiction 2012).

Spirit of the North: a paranormal romance - on sale now.In 1873, orphaned sisters Barbara and Adele Traugott travel to Upper Michigan to live with their uncle, only to find he is deceased. Penniless, they are forced to spend the long, fierce winter alone in their uncle’s remote wilderness cabin. Frightened yet determined, the sisters face blizzards and near starvation to survive. Amid their difficulties, they find love and heartache—and then, a ghostly encounter and the coming of spring lead them to discovering the true miracle of their being.

Fans of Tichelaar’s popular Marquette novels will enjoy this new story that reintroduces many familiar characters from his first book Iron Pioneers, including loggers Ben and Karl, Sophia Henning—the woman readers love to hate—Molly Montoni and the Whitman family. But at the center is Barbara Traugott, a woman used to holding everyone together until circumstances arise that even she cannot control but will awaken her to a new vision of life.

Influenced by the Gothic tradition, Tichelaar weaves stories within stories, including ghost stories and a tale of Paul Bunyan, all containing supernatural elements. And among them is the tale of Annabella Stonegate, a minor character in some of Tichelaar’s previous novels, whose story is told in full here. “Annabella was a ghost in a story I wrote in middle school,” says Tichelaar, “she has haunted me for more than a quarter of a century, insisting I tell her full story. I think I have finally satisfied her insistence.”

Readers love Tichelaar’s new literary departure into the spirit world. Diana M. DeLuca, Ph.D. and author of “Extraordinary Things” states, “Tichelaar’s characters…are shaped by the northern Michigan woods he describes so lovingly…The woods, of course, are dark and hold their secrets, but when the past starts to take a direct hand in the present-day lives of the main characters, it’s clear that Tichelaar believes human lives are full of beauty as well as of things that defy rational explanation.” And fellow Upper Michigan author of “Finding My Light,” Chris Shanley-Dillman, declares, “In ‘Spirit of the North,’ Mr. Tichelaar cleverly weaves together the past, present, and spiritual worlds to create a heart-touching story that will inspire readers to ponder their own existence.”

About the Author

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. is best known for “The Marquette Trilogy,” where his characters serve as a microcosm for the American Dream being played out on Lake Superior’s shores. In 2009, he was awarded Best Historical Fiction in the Reader Views Literary Awards for his novel Narrow Lives and now he sponsors that award. For his travel/history book “My Marquette,” he received the 2011 Barb H. Kelly Historic Preservation Award from the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee. That same year he was named the “Outstanding Writer” in the Marquette County Arts Awards. Tyler is a seventh generation resident of Marquette, Michigan, where the roar of Lake Superior, mountains of snow, and sandstone architecture inspire his writing.

“Spirit of the North” (9780979179068, Marquette Fiction 2012) can be purchased through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit Review copies available upon request.


Scary Ghost Stories…of Christmases Long, Long Ago

December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

As some of you may know, the first story I ever wrote set in the U.P. “The Ghost of Stonegate Woods” was set during Christmas Eve and told the story of how a young boy, a fictional me, got lost in a blizzard and had the ghost of Annabella Stonegate lead his parents to where he lay in the snow. I wrote that story in 8th grade in 1985. It was broadcast on Public Radio 90 at NMU that fall and the following spring was made into a video that aired on the Upper Michigan Today show.

You can now listen to me read that story–the original clip from the Public Radio 90 broadcast, at my website, as well as find out more about Annabella Stonegate, who will be featured in my upcoming novel Spirit of the North, coming in Spring 2012, at my website:

While you’re at my website, check out its new look. I’ve remodeled, thanks to assistance from Larry Alexander of Storyteller’s Friend

I’ve also added a new page for the Marquette History Quiz. Take the quiz and find out how much you know about Marquette history – and I have plans for more quizzes to come in 2012, as well as other facts and fun for the website.

Finally, you can now check out on my website the new covers for Spirit of the North and my other upcoming book The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption.

It looks like we may end up having a green Christmas in Marquette this year, but regardless of whether your Christmas is green or white, I wish all my readers and followers a wonderful holiday season!

Tyler R. Tichelaar

Lady’s Slipper Season in Upper Michigan

June 25, 2011

It’s Lady’s Slipper season in Upper Michigan, and thanks to some of my Facebook friends, I heard my favorite wildflower was in bloom around Little Presque Isle near Marquette and set out on a rainy day to get photographs. I plan to have a photo of lady’s slippers on the front cover of my next novel, Spirit of the North, which will be published in Spring 2012. In the novel, there is a pivotal scene around lady’s slippers.

In fact, lady’s slippers have been my favorite flower since I was a child growing up in Stonegate near the Crossroads where the flowers grew profusely in the woods. Even back then in the 1970s, they were illegal to pick, but we picked them all the time anyway. I don’t recommend anyone doing so now since they appear to be more rare than they were back then, although by looking hard, I easily spotted about 100 of them, growing in groups of 1 and 2, but I remember them often growing in much larger clumps when I was younger. I was more respectful when I went out to photograph them this past week, and I swear they knew I was there, admiring them and they were ready for their photo-shoot. I think because of their shape they look almost like they have faces and their own personalities. You can decide for yourself.

I did not neglect to mention Lady’s Slippers in some of my other novels, so I offer here a scene from my novel Superior Heritage in which young John Vandelaare, who is only about six years old, goes fishing with his brother and older cousins at Ives Lake where his grandfather is the caretaker, and on the way back, they stumble on a field of Lady’s Slippers.

From Superior Heritage: The Marquette Trilogy, Book Three

They were all a bit tired now from the long day, and less talkative than they had been on the way to the fishing hole. They walked with a bit of urgency because they knew it would soon be nightfall, and the forest’s thick trees would block out the remaining light.

Then, as the beautiful summer evening ended, they stumbled upon a little copse, almost a meadow really, where sunbeams broke through the trees, illuminating a small patch of the forest floor.

Suddenly, Chad cried out, “Ooh, look at the lady’s slippers!”

All turned their heads to see the meadow packed with the little pink flowers that looked like fairy slippers hanging from their stems.

“How’d we miss seeing all those before?” asked Alan.

“I saw them,” said William, who had not thought flowers worth mentioning.

Chad struggled to get out of the wagon.

“Where are you going?” Jason asked him.

“To pick some for Gwamma and Aunt Ada,” was Chad’s obvious answer.

“Hey, ain’t these flowers the kind that are illegal to pick?” asked Jason.

“Why would flowers be illegal to pick?” asked Alan.

“Because they’re rare,” said William.

“They don’t look rare,” said Alan. “There’s about a hundred of them here.”

“Let’s pick them all,” said Chad. “We can give some to Gwamma, and Aunt Ada, and some to my mom and some to your mom.” He felt overcome by a desire to give all the women pretty flowers until they would all feel as beautiful as Princess Ada.

“It’s almost dark,” said William.

“It’ll only take a minute to pick them,” Alan replied. “Besides, maybe the flowers will cheer Mom up.”

            “Mom’s not going to cheer up until Dad quits being a jerk,” William muttered; as the oldest, he was burdened with understanding his parents’ marriage better than his brothers.

“If we pick them all,” said Jason, “won’t they die from being exposed? We don’t have any water to put them in.”

“Aunt Beth will give us vases, or at least plastic bags to wrap them in,” said Alan.

While his cousins debated, John joined his brother in gathering flowers. William refused to pick any—he was too old for flower picking, even to make his mother happy. But Alan did not mind pleasing his younger cousins by joining in. Chad’s little hands filled too quickly, so he enlisted Jason in carrying his flowers to the wagon for him. Meanwhile, Alan picked ferns to make backgrounds so the bouquets of lady’s slippers would look even prettier in vases.

In ten minutes, the meadow was cleared. Heaps of delicate pink air pockets of flowers were gently laid in the wagon. Chad did not object when told he would have to walk home so his feet did not crush the flowers. He thought it nicer to walk beside the wagon and look at the pretty flowers.

lady's slippers           The boys started back down the path. John looked back to where the flowers had been. He remembered just minutes before how stunned they had all been by the flowers—how there had been a seemingly endless field of pink rising up from the decaying leaves of last autumn. Now, he only saw the decaying leaves and little broken stems sticking up where once the flowers had been. The evening sun had lowered as well, leaving the field almost dark. Already he was starting to strain his eyes to see ahead of him. He wished they had not picked all the flowers; then he could have come back tomorrow night to see the pink field again.

“I hope the DNR doesn’t catch us,” said William.

“What’s the DNR?” asked Alan.

“The Department of Natural Resources. If they catch us illegally picking all these flowers, they’ll probably throw us in jail, or make Dad pay a huge fine, and then he’ll probably ground us for a month.”

John was frightened by the thought of jail. But he felt it would serve them right if the DNR did catch them. It seemed wrong to have picked all the flowers. They had not left behind a single one. He felt the trees would be lonely and sad without the lady’s slippers.

When the boys got back to the house, Ada and Beth marveled at so many delicate flowers. Beth quickly found more empty coke bottles to serve as vases so Ada could go home with a bouquet, and the Whitman boys could bring another home for their mother.

“Thanks for having me, Beth,” Ada said, as she picked up her vase and kissed her sister-in-law goodbye.

“Any time, Ada,” said Beth.

“We wish you’d come to visit more often,” said Henry.

“It was a perfect day,” Ada said.

“Boys, what do you say to your aunt?”

“Thank you for the pwincess,” said Chad.

“Thank you for the ship,” said John, and then he turned to his cousins and added, “Thank you for taking me fishing.”

William and Jason said nothing, but Alan mussed his cousin’s hair.

“We better get home before dark or Annette will be worried,” said Bill.

William thought his mother might prefer if they did not go home, but he would not argue with his father in public. Instead, he carried his and his brothers’ fishing poles to the car trunk. A sprinkle of rain started up as everyone piled into the car.

“We’re going to have another storm tonight,” said Henry as the visitors drove away.

“Well, at least the boys got out of the house this evening,” said Beth, “though I don’t think they minded being inside since they had Ada to entertain them.”

“Did you boys have a good time with Aunt Ada?” Henry asked.

Both nodded enthusiastically.

“Well, you better get to bed now,” said Beth. “John go brush your teeth while I help Chad put on his pajamas.”

John got ready for bed, then came out into the kitchen to get a drink of water before he went to sleep. When he saw the lady’s slippers sitting on the kitchen counter, he wished he could replant them in the woods, but he knew they would not grow now.

As he started to fall asleep, a loud thunderclap made him hide his head under the blankets. He was surprised Chad could sleep through the noise. He felt the thunder was a warning he had done something wrong to pick the flowers. They had been so beautiful in the forest; they were nowhere near as pretty sitting on the counter. He wanted to cry, but he felt if his older cousins knew he cried, they would think him a baby. That he refused to cry did not make him feel any less guilty.

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