If you are looking for reading material for whiling away time in the hammock or lounging on the dock, or if you plan to spend a relaxing evening listening to the sounds of summer, you might want to pick up a copy of Craig Nagel's "A Place Called Home - Moments from an ordinary life" (Authorhouse 2007).
The book, in which Nagel shares glimpses of his life, will connect with a wide variety of readers, especially those of us who are in early middle age or baby boomers, as well as those who were around during World War II.
The book begins with Nagel's early years in Chicago, when his family made the drive "up north" for magical weekends at Grandpa's cabin on Long Lake. He goes on to relate his experiences as a young teacher, a newly wed, father and entrepreneur.
Craig Nagel's "A Place Called Home - Moments from an ordinary life" is worth the read.
Nagel recounts the challenges involved in settling here in Minnesota, surviving the frigid winters and trying to earn not only enough money to support his young family but to fulfill his dreams of becoming a writer. Although Nagel's experiences are not out of the ordinary, as he himself states, the reader is "pulled in" because of the comfort and familiarity relating to his/her own experiences. In many ways, his stories are our stories. It's a bit like "Chicken Soup for The North Woods."
Another reason this book is such an enjoyable read is Nagel's clever use of language. One of my college writing professors always said, "Don't just find words; find just the right words," and Nagel excels at this. His conversational style combines just the right amounts of humor and gravity. He wittily describes the process of raising chicks and of taking turns letting the cat outside in sub-zero weather. In another episode, he considers the extent of the chores to do before cold weather sets in and he chastises himself about procrastinating.
"Remembering all these undone thing makes you uncomfortably warm. The road to hell, you recollect, is paved with just the kind of good intentions you've been having for the past six months. But then the fever subsides and is replaced by goose bumps, for here in the northland perdition sports more icicles than flames."
In another chapter, when talking about the births of grandchildren seeming sometimes to coincide with the deaths of older family members, he remarks, "Is there, I wonder, some cosmic form of bookkeeping that works at balancing our emotional accounts?"
Nagel is almost Thoreau-like in his musings regarding nature in the northland. He makes suggestions about using and enjoying the things that are there in front of us. His observations invite us, the readers, to take a closer look at all those ingredients in our natural world that we should appreciate but completely overlook or do not bother to look at more closely, including dirt. Referring to the fresh soil in springtime, he says, "Without the soil, we wouldn't be here. This dirt is the womb and the cradle, the bed and the casket of all life forms."
In all of Nagel's reflections, his sincerity and his passion for life are obvious. He is a person who truly appreciates what he has and where he is. His stories are comforting and inspirational. They remind us that we all have the same opportunities and treasures - in that place we call home.
VICKI PALMER is an English teacher at Pequot Lakes High School.
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