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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

Years ago I purchased a T-shirt at the Star Lake General Store withthe slogan Star Lake, The Ultimate Retreat. I am indebted to theI could not have told this story without the help of Joyce Melville and Al Gedicks, both active in the anti-mine movement in northern Wisconsin. The folks at Island View Lodge on Fisher Lake near...

Author’s Note

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pp. xv-xvi

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Here and There

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pp. 3-10

Hannah’s name was a palindrome. That fact had always given her a secret satisfaction; the magical pattern of letters establishing a sense of order early in her life, as if the synchrony of her name ensured a steady balance no matter what. Today, however, she found her equilibrium severely challenged...

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1. Thank Your Lucky Stars

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pp. 11-27

This is It! The hand-lettered sign was tacked to the trunk of a charred maple that appeared to have been struck by lightning. Below it another sign suggested, Thank Your Lucky Stars! Surely this was not the home of her recently deceased uncle...

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2. The Yank ’Em Inn

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pp. 28-42

Hannah’s dreams were thick with herds of deer, soft-eyed gentle beings that wandered everywhere, like sheep. Over snowdrifts, through lush grass, pausing on the shoulders of the road, speckled fawns encroached upon the margins of her life while does watched from the periphery of her vision...

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3. Zing, Creak, Bang

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pp. 43-56

Charlie Jenkins was waiting for Hannah when she arrived at Star Lake Sunday afternoon. The funeral director was a wiry little man in a dark suit and tie, not given to much conversation. She handed over Uncle Hal’s things and, after a few additional exclamations about...

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4. Choose a Star

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pp. 57-65

When she thought about it afterward, Hannah would recall the Monday of Hal’s funeral or memorial service or however he intended the event to be remembered, as one of the strangest days of her life. After Kerry left the resort on Sunday, she tried to call Dennis...

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5. Wetlands

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pp. 66-84

“You’re still looking peaked, Honey,” Ginger said with concern, plopping down two slices of pie and pulling a folding chair up to the card table where Hannah sat. Last Friday night’s fish fry could still be detected in the rancid ambiance of the Sportsman’s Club. Beneath more dusty specimens...

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6. The Last Resort

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pp. 85-100

Hannah checked her watch and studied the warped floor where generations of overshoes and workboots had scuffed the varnish. It was a cool morning, washed and fresh, and she had plenty of time to pick the final traces of Babe’s fur from the sleeves of her red cashmere suit before Dennis Windsor rushed up the steps of the granite...

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7. Keep Dancing

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pp. 101-112

“So I’m showing the guy around,” Ginger said after a tour with the official appraiser, “and where does Mother Nature call him? Pollux, of course. That teeter-totter toilet. Even out on the porch I hear him holler ‘Ooops’ when he sits down!” Hannah relayed Ginger’s telling of the mishap to Tyler when...

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8. Gone Fishing

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pp. 113-129

Two boats had left the pier at sunrise; the third boat (and Sirius, the third occupied cottage) was still quiet. Chloe and Eric had worked until after midnight repairing the two windstorm-damaged cottages, Castor and Pollux, and Hannah would let them sleep. The porch of the Saloon was a pleasant place to experience...

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9. Full Moon

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pp. 130-142

According to the almanac, June’s full moon was known variously as the Rose Moon, the Strawberry Moon, or (serendipitously, in the month of June/moon/spoon) the Honey Moon. As far as Hannah was concerned, the approach of that event and the completion of the long first week of their summer season was significant: thus far...

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10. Unfamiliar Landscapes

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pp. 143-155

Hannah found herself making excuses. For the quaintness of the resort. For Chloe’s brusque behavior, for Ginger’s lack of sophistication, for not being there when he arrived, for everything, really. If she’d had any idea that she would be spending the afternoon with Tyler Cole she’d have taken a Valium and done a few affirmations...

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11. The Canoe Flotilla

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pp. 156-168

During Hannah’s third week of business, a pale sadness diluted every sunrise. Her life was beginning to resemble her dismal attempt at watercolors: too many vivid emotions ran together and were muddied with complications. Even the daily repetition of sunshine and mild temperatures felt unforgivable...

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12. Call of the Wild

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pp. 169-188

Her mother would say Uncle Hal’s ashes rested on the coffee table in his apartment for seven weeks gathering dust because Hannah had trouble letting go of things: clothes she’d outgrown, moldy leftovers, unhappy marriages. Borrowed flannel shirts!...

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13. Ah, Wilderness

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pp. 189-201

Even without opening her eyes Hannah knew she was in the city again and it was garbage day. The collected clink and clatter of yawning maws crawled along the curb. Every time the garbage truck came she felt a twinge of anxiety, a residual fear she had accidentally thrown away a meaningful part of her life that she would eventually...

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14. Dog Days of Summer

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pp. 202-216

Sirius, the dog star, had been rising with the sun for over a month by early August, and people with reservations for Labor Day weekend were calling to ask if the resort would still be open for business. Things were just fine for the time being, Hannah told them, “I haven’t even noticed if they’ve begun cutting...

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15. That Sinking Feeling

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pp. 217-228

Local reaction to the injunction against Ingold was swift, vocal, and negative. “They’re mad as hell at you, Hannah,” Ginger warned. “People who wouldn’t say shit if they had a mouthful are squawking that you ought to eat it.” Hannah wondered how far she would have to drive to buy her groceries from now on...

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16. The Clambake Incident

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pp. 229-244

Hannah drove down to Minocqua on Thursday with a long grocery list and her mother in the car. Now close to seventy-five, Lily Larkin was as talkative as ever. Since arriving Saturday night for a two week stay, Lily had complained nonstop about being cold. “You know, if you’d come down to Tampa once in a while you...

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17. Mine Games in Progress

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pp. 245-259

September blazed with a glory that Hannah was not prepared for. It slipped in with a whisper on the fading green shoulders of summer. Almost imperceptibly at first, then more boldly, the leaves of the aspen and the birch began to burnish into coins of brilliant gold. Soon the orange and red of the maples, the beech...

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18. October Finishing Touches

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pp. 260-279

Hannah stretched. No, she wasn’t back at the lodge, so the events of last night must not have been a dream. When was the last time she woke with a smile on her face like this? Or with such an aching back? “I’ve got to go,” Dan said. He stood above her in a thin shaft of light from the kitchen...

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19. Flurries

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pp. 280-295

The aroma of roasting turkey bathed the house with savory promise. Hannah drizzled it with the baster and slammed the oven door shut with her hip. Two more hours. The meal was coming together. Lily had flown into Madison the day before. Her mother bustled about in a lavender jog-suit to dab at the dust on Hannah’s houseplants and pinch...

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20. Winter Storm Warning

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pp. 296-306

“You wouldn’t believe howmuch snowthere is up here, Mom,” Chloe said when she called from Star Lake the week after Thanksgiving. “It’s up to the windowsills in Aldebaran and they’re already ice fishing on the lake.” Then she added, “Ginger wants to be a bridesmaid,” and Hannah couldn’t tell if Chloe’s tongue was in her cheek or not...

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21. Dark December Morning

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pp. 307-312

Babe was growling, a low, rumbling demand. Only on the edge of sleep, Hannah rose on one elbow. Next to her Dan slept soundly. She pulled the blankets up to her chin and nestled back into the spoon of his warmth where his arm had encircled her all night. While snowy winds buffeted Aldebaran...

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22. Synchrony

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pp. 313-316

Hannah was wearing Dan’s flannel shirt again. She sat on the pier with Babe—a big dog now although still a pup in spirit—and watched the loon chicks ride placidly past on their mother’s back. Hard to believe an entire year had gone by since her boating odyssey after Uncle Hal’s memorial service. Babe was shedding...