Updated: Mar 22, 2019
Hurrah! North Bank Books has a website up and we're ready to connect with the Whole Wide World at last! Take some time to look around. There's good stuff here. (And if you see something weird, shoot me a message. I'm still very much a website newbie and I've got a lot to learn.) For this first blog post, let me introduce myself. I'm Stephanie Lillegard, wife of David Lillegard, who is one of the local fourth-generation Lillegards. We live in a house David's great grandfather built, back in 1904 or thereabouts, uphill from town, and downhill from most of the snow most of the time during most of the winters. (Snowpocalypse 2019 laughed at "most," of course. I'm sure we're not the only ones still looking at a few hillocks of the white stuff at the edges of the yard.) Our living room looks out across the Gorge to the Oregon side, where I saw the Indian Creek Fire's plume just as it began to build in September of 2017.
On that day, I knew like I had never known before that I am a local. This is my field. Those are my trees. That is my sky, and during those horrible days of that horrible fire, I watched all the other locals pull together as if we had all rehearsed for the emergency. Agencies and citizens and businesses and everyone individually clicked into place to feed the firefighters (Thunder Island Brewing) and house the evacuees (at the fairgrounds, and even in private homes), keep the roads safe for travel and one eye on your neighbor, just in case the fire jumped the river. It was terrible. It was amazing. It was us. Here. Local.
We opened North Bank Books in the middle of December that same year, and now here we are, almost a year and a half into this adventure and well chuffed at the way the locals have embraced the new bookstore. Folks are browsing the shelves for books as gifts, books as information, support, instructions, amazement, escape, engagement. Our local people are big fans of the words on the page. And not all of these words are in bound volumes. Some of them are coming from the pens and fingertips of the North Bank Writers in our regularly scheduled writing classes here in the store. In fact, those words on the page are a big reason the bookstore came into being. 2017 was also the year in which I graduated from Pacific University's MFA in Writing program, which qualified me to teach in college or university, but I wanted to teach here. In my town. After all, not all writing needs to be academic and lots of people just want to write -- not for any other reason than to have their own words on the page. (Watch the Events tab here and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with our course offerings.)
There's another opportunity for getting words onto the page. Beginning in April, every Wednesday, the store's door will be opened an hour before the store opens for business. Beginning at 10:00, anyone who wants to, with any subject matter in mind (and nobody's going to ask you about that), armed with laptop, journal, or a quill and a piece of parchment if you prefer, join us for A.M. Writing. One hour. No talking. There will be writing prompts in a bowl if you want one. There will be a theme posted for anyone who'd like to do some impromptu freewriting. And there will be a space for getting words onto the page.
One last thing. We are bringing some great authors to our region. Last year, when his great book about Mount Adams came out, Darryl Lloyd and his twin brother Darvel came to Skamania Lodge for a wonderful slide show, great conversation, and a book signing.
This year started with a scheduled visit from vet, firefighter, author, artist, and all-round amazing guy, Sean Davis ... but Snowpocalypse ate our plans and he couldn't get here. We're rescheduling, so watch the page. (We're thinking May would be a good month, but nothing's firm yet.) And this next Tuesday, March 26, Debra Gwartney (one of the instructors in Pacific University's MFA program) will be here to talk about Narcissa Whitman and what it means to be a woman in the West in this land of ours. Her book is in the store, so you can come get your copy ahead of time. On Tuesday, we'll open the door at 6:00 and her reading will start at 6:30.
Sometimes, when travelers come through, I tell the story of that horrible fire year and the beauty of our place and our people, seen so clearly in the murky, smoke-filled air. Sometimes I point them to local restaurants, or the library, or the park where squirmy kids can swing on the swingset or run on the lawns or feed the geese and ducks. North Bank Books sees local old timers and local newcomers, visitors and town planners, children and teens and grandparents and everyone who's here in our town. Here is good. Thanks for joining us. We think you'll be glad you did.