TRAVERSE CITY — Fleda Brown finally took her first swim in Antrim County’s Intermediate Lake two weeks ago.
She even removed her swim cap for cancer patients so that her sister, Michelle, could take a photo — from a distance.
“I’m shy, obviously, about my head,” Brown wrote recently in “Fleda’s Blog,” her online journal. “I’m OK about being bald, but I don’t like to be stared at, or have eyes drop when they see my head. “
Brown is a Traverse City poet, writer, retired University of Delaware English professor and former poet laureate of Delaware who moved here in 2007 with husband Jerry Beasley, also a retired English professor, to be closer to the summer cottage.
Anyone who knows Brown or follows her blog realizes how important that belated July 13 swim was. The first dip in Intermediate Lake has been an “early-as-possible” tradition since her childhood summers at the cottage.
Brown was diagnosed Nov. 5 with Stage 3 metastatic endometrial cancer. Treatment and an unusually cool spring temporarily benched Brown from some of her activities from early December to June 18, but three rounds of chemotherapy, five weeks of daily radiation and three sessions of internal radiation didn’t silence her.
Far from it.
Words are Brown’s friends, the paints that color her canvas of life.
Brown is the author of eight books of poetry and essays. She writes a monthly Record-Eagle column on poetry, a Monday newsletter for the Traverse City Mindfulness Meditation Group that meets on Sunday evenings, and a Buddhist meditation blog for “Spirituality and Health,” a national magazine based in Traverse City.
She provides monthly commentary on poetry for Interlochen Public Radio’s “Michigan Writers on the Air” series. She also teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop low-residency Masters of Fine Arts program at Tacoma, Wash.