An Uncrowded Place; The delights and dilemmas of life Up North and a young man's search for home By Bob Butz
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Edition: First, published October 2008
How does a man reconcile a passion for woods and waters with a love for family, community, and home? In this collection of insights and essays, Bob Butz finds the answers don't come easy or without a laugh.
Butz is a young man seeking balance. As a boy, while others were dreaming of football fields and baseball diamonds, he was knee-deep in a neighborhood creek or off hiding in the woods contemplating life as a mountain man. As someone amazed and inspired by wide-open fields, forests, and clear-running trout streams, Butz found little room left in the sprawling brick and mortar suburbs of his eastern Pennsylvania home. So after college, he headed north almost to Canada—an evergreen country where road signs advertise U-PICK BLUEBERRIES, MAPLE SYRUP, and the ravens in the sky outnumber the crows.
But life proves hard in northern Michigan small towns. Jobs are scarce. The winters are cold and long. Life is complicated when you're a man who not only appreciates the solace of good country but also the comfort of a warm fire, a loving wife, and the companionship of good friends.
Though often at odds with the obligations and everyday toils of domestic living, Butz finds what Thoreau called "the nature behind the ordinary," the magic in the seemingly mundane: a trip to the local store; the hefty virtues of a double-bitted ax; the search for the perfect Christmas tree; contemplating life as a trout.
While the intricately linked writings in this book are all centered around life in one small northern Michigan town, in the end Butz creates a portrait of place that ultimately transcends regional boundaries. Poignant and funny, An Uncrowded Place speaks to the trifles and heartaches that make life worth living, and to every wandering soul looking for a place to call home.