What’s the Holdup?

What’s the Holdup?

It is a beautiful early spring day. The sun is out. The birds are chirping and as a sure sign that winter is on the wane, our maple’s blossoms are already falling. I say winter is on the wane, except for those who live in more northern climes, like on the coast of Maine, Rochester or unlike as pictured above from last summer, on the shore of Lake Superior. For them, this is no spring day. I checked online just to be sure. The calendar says that spring is still ten days away, but that calendar was made before climate change. We spring ahead for daylight savings time tonight and Anne’s spring break begins this next week. How many more signs of spring do you need? As if you can’t just look outside and see the signs out there for yourself. So, put a spring in your step. Do some spring cleaning, if you must. Because spring is coming, if it is not already here. I think that today would be the perfect day for a spring bicycle ride.

Cormorants on Parade

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.

The Milky Way

The Milky Way

The other night, when we weren’t turned north, looking for dancing lights in the sky, we looked south at the milky way. Looking south and looking away from the setting sun, the sky was always darker there, but even as full darkness fell, it became apparent that that corner of the sky was still darker. This is probably because there is even less light pollution in the national forest than there is looking out across the lake, where we could still see the multitude of red lights atop the Canadian windmills. Where we live in the heart of Saint Louis, one cannot see many stars. Even up here at the cabin on the shores of Lake Superior, the amount of light pollution has grown such that you cannot see the stars like we saw them that night. Still, they way brighter here than they are at home. 

There is something primordial about looking at the milky way. Looking at the light from millions of stars that is already millennium old, in its vast journey to my eyes. Couple this sight with the sounds of lapping waves, a gentle breeze, the buzzing of insects and the whole general ambience of the great north woods, one is left with feelings of a religious experience. Was this all put here for me?

At the other end of the spectrum from the eternal lies the ephemeral, which is no better personified than by the mayfly. The other night, after the rains finally ceased, there was a large hatch and the beach was all aflutter with swarms of flying Canadian soldiers, ready to do the dirty and then die. The fish ate well that night. One has to wonder how many days, while it continued to rain that week that this multitude waited to reproduce? The mayfly is an archaic insect with traits like long tails and wings that do not fold flat over the abdomen that mark its specie’s ancient ancestry. There have been mayflies long before there were humans and there will likely still be mayflies long after we’re gone.

It is a funny world that we live in. I read The Atlantic’s Peter Brannen article about the Great Dying that end-Permian event (252.2 million years ago) when life almost exterminated itself. Volcanic activity had ignited the already abundant deposits of fossil fuels, which escalated into a runaway greenhouse effect that nearly caused the seas to boil (165 ºF). [The water’s warm, come on in!] Life on this planet almost went extinct and many species did not survive. Fossil records and the other night’s big hatch indicate that mayflies survived though. Humans were still many epochs away from arrival upon the scene. The only way we know about these things is through observation, deduction and the clever use of the intellects that God chose to grace us with. So, please use yours!

Boats on Parade

The Saginaw in the Soo Locks

Bubs, Anne and I trooped down to Portage this morning, to watch some of the lake boats lock through. Six down bound boats had just passed the cabin and we figured that we could catch some of them there. This chasing of lake boats from the cabin was once a thing, back in the day, when cars were slower and people faster. We caught the last two boats in the chain. The pictured Saginaw being the last of the six. In the lock’s observation platform Bubs was able to regale the tourists with tales of her childhood, when she could cross the lock gates that are now walled off to all. We watched the tug Missouri lock-up. She was on her way up to rendezvous with a down bound salty. Interestingly, she shared the lock with a river tug and her barge. The river tug was called the Sir Kolb and is ported in Jeff City, MO. When the Saginaw blew her departure horn a little boy asked, “Who farted?”

After boats, we decamped to Karl’s, the restaurant on Portage next to the putt-putt golf course. A few years ago, Karl’s had acquired Superior Coast Winery, then just another store down Portage. Now that acquisition has been expanded to include Superior Coast Brewery. Anne and I each ordered one of their ciders, raspberry and blackberry. Their colors were almost identical, but their flavors were distinctive. I ordered a soup and sandwich combo, a half Reuben sandwich and a special of the day, a cup of Reuben soup. It was a great combination.

The big deal in town today was not the boats, but a basketball tournament down on Portage. The games were 3-on-3 half-court. I later learned that there were age categories and that teams qualified based upon the age of their eldest player. Add on all of that that no fouls were being called, I think that we could have competed. Bubs could have fiercely beat the other team with her Staff-of-Power.

After all of this, we still made it back to the beach, through the rain, again. On my first walk down the beach, I flushed an eagle from the shoreline trees. It came back, but I was still unable to get a decent photo of it. Tonight’s evening sky was spectacular. Actually, the whole day was a pretty good photo-op. It is amazing what a little sun and blue sky can do to improve ones life outlook.

Emerging from the Fog

The Honorable James L Oberstar Emerges from the Fog

It was a dark and stormy night… That was last night. It rained all night. The tap-tap-tapping on the roof kept waking me up. This was preceded by yesterday’s rain and the day’s before that and then the day’s before that. We’ve had a lot of rain, about three days worth, but none today and then, ta-da! The sun came out and it was a beach day. We’ll get a sunset tonight for sure. Maybe, I’ll even get to see stars tonight? I hope that I can stay up late enough. We did a lot today.

Earlier today, the four of us (Bubs, Harry, Anne and I — or is it me?) all trooped into town. First up was laundry. I got to escape for a while during the wash cycle and headed down to Portage, where setup was underway for a basketball tournament tomorrow. I also got pictures of a lake boat locking through. Lunch was a Chinese buffet, at which I thoroughly pigged-out. Afterwards, we shopped Jo-Ann’s (don’t ask), then more food at Meijer’s and back to cabin & beach…