1. We had our first mountain hike. Naturalist and photographer Tom Lawrence led a group up the Bubbles and Conners Nubble. The views were spectacular. Tom's plant and geology insights and the act of keeping a notebook as they walked helped participants see the world around them in a new way. The next day, one of the hikers, Pam Trieu, stopped by to tell us how much she had loved the experience. "Every time you do something like that,” she said, “you fill up a part of yourself that you didn't know was empty."
2. A former pro basketball player showed up. Steve Rich, a Miami native and University of Miami grad who now lives in Maine, spent some time with the NBA's Clippers, then went off to play 12 seasons as one of the top centers in the European pro leagues. At 6'10", he's the tallest person ever to have visited the Notebook. He is also one of the most engaging. His tales of living and playing everywhere from Argentina to Latvia underscored how enriching it is for Americans to travel and experience other cultures. Not all the stories were pleasant: Steve had to face racist taunts and drunks picking fights on a regular basis in some countries. But the friendships he made outweighed the ignorance he encountered. Steve is now embarking on a new career as a college basketball coach, and I think he has the personality, intelligence and love for the game to become a big success.
3. Somebody world-famous came in. We like to respect our customers' privacy, so I won't say who, but he is a genuinely sweet man who has done much to help the environment and other causes in his long lifetime. He loved the shop.
4. We got our copies of a much-anticipated book called The Plants of Acadia National Park. You may chuckle at the idea that a plant book could be as electrifying as a new Harry Potter volume, but this one was six years in the making, is loaded with great photos and info, and fills a niche that is hugely important to the many botanists, naturalists, gardeners and general plant lovers in this area. I drove to a parking lot in Bar Harbor to pick them up from the director of the University of Maine Press, who'd come down from Orono with a carload. You can buy the book from us via mail for $24.95 plus $3.25 in shipping.
5. The shop had visitors from France, Australia and other countries. Clement and Harrison, young brothers from Paris, kept finding more and more items to play with, read, or use to make creative artwork. Clement became the first person in Notebook history to balance six nails on one finger.
6. We gained a Gulf oil spill correspondent. Lindsey Bell is an extraordinary woman who has traveled the world, lived with bears in Alaska, rescued oil-covered birds in California and done any number of other amazing things. She will head to the Gulf later this year to help clean and save birds and will file reports for us from there. Look for them in the shop and on this blog and our website. Soon I will post her description of what's involved in cleaning a bird who's covered in oil.
7. Our first customers from a year ago returned—lots of them, from Mississippi, Oklahoma, New Hampshire and other states. I'm not exactly sure who literally bought the first item back in 2009, but we were happy just to see such nice people again.
8. A gifted avant garde filmmaker came in. Nancy Andrews, who has won numerous awards and had one-person shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, combines science, puppetry, artistry, hand-drawn animation, photography, news references and other elements into compelling films that generally run about half an hour in length (too long to be considered shorts, too short to be considered features, she says with a degree of resignation—but she stays true to the art that she is creating). Nancy's newest film will be showing at the Anthology Film Archives in New York this fall; we'll keep you posted on details.
9. A really great girl came in. Well, more than one did, but this one made my day. First she studied our upstairs display on the imperiled state of the world's tigers: Three of the nine subspecies have gone extinct in the last 50 years thanks to mankind, a fourth is on the verge of extinction (outlook pretty much hopeless), and the five others are in deep, deep trouble. She then came down to the basement, where we have our collection of more than 1,000 natural-history books—and where I was editing a Sports Illustrated story on my laptop—and announced, "We have to save that fourth tiger from going extinct. I want to become the Jane Goodall of tigers." She bought books, talked about how we might use DNA research and cloning to help endangered species, and made an astute observation: “The biggest problem in the world is human overpopulation."
On our news chalkboard, by the way, we keep a running tab on world population, which has nearly tripled since 1950. As of this morning, that population (6.85 billion) has increased by more than 40 million people ... just since January 1 of this year. Pause to think about that.
10. The Woodman gang arrived. This Friday night, from 4:30 to 8 p.,m., we're holding our second Night at the Notebook, this one celebrating the range of creative talents within the Woodman family of Maine and New York. The lineup will include Bill Woodman, the former longtime New Yorker cartoonist and outstanding en plein air painter; his daughter, Anne Woodman, the talented nature-themed jewelry maker whose pieces have been worn by the likes of Venus Williams and actress Mischa Barton; his daughter-in-law, Betsy Loredo, who's the executive editor of Sesame Street books (and brought a Muppet version of herself that the staff created); and his son, Jowill, a designer who came up with the Notebook's cool logo, among many other branding and media creations. If you're in Maine as you read this, stop by for a fun night. Or come next week, which should be just as interesting as the past week was.