Cormorants on Parade
We had a bit of a medical incident yesterday. It wasn’t life threatening, but was surely serious all the same. We encountered the already developing situation by way of a phone call. We were almost back to the cabin. We were getting the mail when Anne’s phone rang. Fortunately, while we were away cousin Anne was near by and called 911. We arrived to chaos, but the EMT, preceded by their advance party soon arrived on the scene. After some probing, questioning and bandaging the visiting medical professionals were mollified enough to allow the lot of us to troop down to the hoosegow on our own recognition. I drove, speeding all the way or in Michigan parlance, going with the traffic flow. We made it safely. Then the waiting commenced, but isn’t that what you do in ‘jail’?
When we first arrived at the ER, I thought that we might have caught a bit of a triage break. The next four hours proved that hope hopelessly wrong. Part of the problem was that soon after we were admitted, two other patients with chest pains were also admitted. I’m sure chest pains trump stitches, even in an 88-year-old, at least with the triage nurse. The first chest pains patient was a big old guy, the usual suspect, but he didn’t seen too concerned with the prospect of a heart attack. Maybe this wasn’t his first rodeo? Anyway, he joked with the admitting attendant, before he was wheeled away.
The second chest pain that presented immediately seemed way more serious than the first. There was a reverse Jack Sprat dichotomy with this couple, because the husband was fat as all could be, while his wife was as skinny as a rail and it was the wife that was presenting. She was in obvious pain and was even having trouble standing. The clueless admitting attendant eventually picked up on this distress and got her a wheelchair and then whisked her quickly away through the double-doors. Near our four-hour mark, I saw the husband again and asked him how his wife was doing? He said that there were still many hours yet to know and that it was going to be a long night. Anyway, we made it back to the cabin and shared a pizza dinner together with Anne Emily.
When I first walked the beach this morning there was plenty of evidence of last night’s bug bacchanalian orgy. The sand was littered with the carcasses of dead mayflies. It wasn’t the sight of their corpses that first caught my attention, but rather the snap, crackle and pop sounds that my footsteps made whenever I stepped on one and crushed its exoskeletons. I was confused by the sound at first and thought it might be some sort of novel settling of the sand. I soon put two-and-two together, because there were enough bodies littering the beach that you could have walked from one end to the other without ever touching sand. Pretty gross huh? Well. that’s nature for you though.
Pink Milkweed Buds
Baby Mergansers on the Rocks
American Bald Eagle
Unlike yesterday, today was a beach day or at least it shoulda been. Normally, I confine my perambulations to the stretch of sand between two points, Birch and Cedar. Today, we went point-to-point. First, we went to lunch at Jack’s Pub and Grub on the River. We split the Polish plate, the Dziadek (Grandfather) Special, which included a cabbage roll, pierogies and kielbasa, topped with sauerkraut, which was further topped with fried onions and bacon. It was not exactly light cuisine. The food reminded me of my grandfather’s Polish picnics that he would host and at which, I would devour the delicious Polish food. On our way back to the cabin, we stopped at the front Birch Point navigational light. It is there that we saw the milkweed. Notice that the leaves are almost, but not quite chewed away. Monarch caterpillars did this. They only eat milkweed. I bet that the caterpillar selves have left just enough photosynthesizing leaf to keep the plant alive to flower, so that the Monarch butterfly selves can then pollinate them. Such is the circle of life. On Birch Point we saw the mergansers. Mom and the babies were neatly ensconced upon a high enough rock to weather the waves. Finally, we did walk down the beach to Cedar Point, where the Bald Eagles roost. We bushwhacked far enough to flush the eagles from the beach, but never did find their nest. We have a Plan B for that though.
Close Encounters Sunset
Anne and I fixed dinner tonight. The main course was steaks. As sides there was corn-on-the-cob and asparagus. The asparagus was roasted, after it had been drizzled with olive oil, parmesan cheese and spices. The asparagus turned out really well and this is now my new go to recipe for that vegetable. Anne made a mushroom sauce to put over the steak, which was tasty and I was fortunate that she did, because the steaks ended up being a little over done. The electric stove broils a lot faster than our gas one. Dessert was the diner’s pièce de résistance. Anne made a rhubarb and strawberry crisp. While we finished all of the rest of dinner, we still have plenty of crisp left to enjoy tomorrow.
During dinner prep, I chanced to lookout on the lake and saw a flotilla of almost fifty cormorants swimming close to shore, right in front of the cabin. I snapped some pics of them, but we’ll have to wait and see if any of them turnout well enough to show. Cormorants are not particularly photogenic birds, IMHO. It has been an exceptionally still and windless day. The calm before the storm. There was some wind, but it was an east wind, which is always blocked by the trees here and on the beach results in an offshore breeze. When I walked the beach this morning I was initially greeted by the audible and steady hum of insects that were still in the woods and the beach grass, but they stayed there and I was able to walk the beach in peace. Later, Anne joined me and we did the circuit again.
This sunset photo is from the other day. Tonight’s sunset is masked behind a uniform and thick grey blanket of clouds. This photo reminded me of the cloud formation in the climax scene of the Spielberg movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Looking at this photo, with the sun peaking through its circular base, you can almost see the mothership poking through to reveal itself.
White Admiral Butterfly
Today was laundry day, which was followed by lunch at Karl’s, down on Portage. This time, we ate outside on the upper deck. Our perch afforded us a beautiful view of the 1000′ ore boat, American Integrity, which was locking through down-bound at the time. After lunch, we walked the length of tourist row to Fudge du Locke. The ‘e’ is on the end, because it is French, don’t you know. We bought some fudge and then felt self-conscious about our purchase, because we had to carry the bright yellow box back the length of tourist row, to the car. We felt like such fudgies!
Anne just had to visit the Happy Hooker one more time before it closed and ended up buying the left side of the menu. Then it was grocery shopping at Meijer’s and then back to the cabin. It was almost three when we got back and what with putting way groceries and laundry and making the beds, we had ended up wasting a perfectly good beach day.
We ended up doubling down on that loss, when Anne, Harry and I formed our own little reenactment of George Caleb Bingham’s 1850s famous painting “The Wood-boat”. Harry had ordered firewood to be delivered, after we had nearly exhausted the supply. In the painting. three people sit in a boat, bored, waiting patiently for the next passing paddle-wheeler plying the mighty Mississippi that needed to restock their wood supply. Instead of waiting for a showboat, we were waiting for the wood truck to arrive. Eventually, the truck and trailer arrived, piloted by a father-son combo. The father told us that he had been delivered by Anne’s Uncle Don. They pulled into the parking area and were able to successfully dump the wood. Then the fun began. They had to back up their truck and trailer. There was the sound of more than a few snapping branches, before they finally got turned around, but they eventually made it.
It’s raining rats at Chipotle! A Dallas woman’s lunch was “ruined by rodents falling from the ceiling.” The restaurant responded by saying that this was an “isolated and rare incident.” Don’t worry people, I’m sure the rats hanging there are free range and have grass-fed, non-GMO diets. Meanwhile, here at the old cabin there have been absolutely no mice sightings, except for Jane’s, but that’s in the past. Maybe, all of the rain that we’ve been having has screwed up the local Mus ecosystem? Maybe, it’s still too early? Maybe, we are just getting too old to notice that the mice are playing poker in the kitchen all night long?
What makes the cabin so magical is that there is nature just outside the door. You can look out a window and see birds, chipmunks, squirrels and even a prancing hare in the surrounding woods. For a city boy, this country living is a treat. In the decades that I have been annually trekking north to this locale, I have never stayed here more than a week or two. This year, I have already stayed up here longer than I ever have before and with hundred plus degree temperatures melting the Lou, I’m in no hurry to head home.
Occasionally, nature does intrude into the cabin. It doesn’t always have to be mice. Those same windows on the surrounding nature are frequently peppered with dancing mosquitoes trying to get inside and then sometimes they do enter the cabin, which is always a treat. because they always seem to favor biting me over all others. Mostly though, this last intrusion has not been too much of an issue. It was way worst, back in the day, when wee ones frequently flung the door open and then neglected to close it behind them.
Then there is the beach, a half-mile of crystalline beige sand that is a joy to walk upon, sit upon and talk with neighbors upon. Beyond the beach lies Lake Superior and what more can be said about that? I think that the picture speaks a thousand words. When you are on the beach it is a beach day, even if you are hunkering down from the flying wind and spray. Today, was an exceptional beach day, with warm temperatures, a cloudless sky and temps in the seventies. There were plenty of other beach bums about to share this bounty with. It is pretty idyllic here this summer and I guess that my only complaint would be that someone keeps putting sand in my bed, but then tomorrow is laundry day.