Tag Archives: spring

At what moment do buds turn into leaves?

Twin elderberry buds

Hello again, dear reader!  (Tonight I feel like blogging.  Smile…  I hope you feel like reading.)

Pussywillows shimmering in the sun

This week I’ve been surprised to discover that Spring hath arrived–almost unnoticed.  How could this be?  In the last couple of years I have been super-alert to Spring’s arrival.  Watching grass turn green, buds appear, dandelions announce the end of Winter’s epic visit.

Perhaps it was the trip to Georgia which interrupted my attention.  Perhaps it was all that April snow.  Perhaps it was this busy week.  Who knows?  But suddenly, unexpectedly, miraculously Spring is wearing its green and yellow and purple and blue and red clothes with style and gusto.

Soft arch of pussy willow

Yesterday morning at least a million birds sang in the woods before 6 a.m.  Better than an alarm clock, dizzy and ecstatic in the light spring rain, they serenaded the buds and flowers and aspiring leaves and sleepy people to get up, wake up, don’t miss another second of spring’s arrival.

We get spring rather late here in the north country, as you know.  With the exception of certain years–such as last year–when it decided to arrive prematurely in March.  May is the usual month when we finally sigh in relief and dance in our hearts and try to assure ourselves that it’s stopped snowing for good.  (Monday was the last day it snowed.  We’re sure it’s over.)

Pussy willows so big you could sleep on them as pillows

Elisa shocked me earlier this week.  She’s been reading my blog from a couple of years ago–the outdoor commitment blog–and she casually asked about our wild leeks this year.  I don’t recall her exact question, but I remember thinking, “Leeks?  Leeks?  Ohmygoodness, how could I have forgotten LEEKS?  Must get out and harvest some of them before the morel mushrooms arrive.  MOREL MUSHROOMS?  Ohmygoodness, must get out and go lookin’.  And where’s our hummingbird feeder?  Must get that out between May 10th-15th.  Gosh, how did Spring sneak up so craftily and slyly this year?”

Green river of budding branch

This evening seemed the appropriate moment to take the camera and photograph the riotous arrival of buds on the trees.  What would we discover? 

Then flashed the thought:  “At what moment do the buds turn into leaves?”

Buds everywhere

This, of course, is a rhetorical question.  How would we ever know the exact moment when a bud transformed into a leaf?  Who would be astute and diligent enough to sit uponst a lawn chair with camera in hand, day after day, awaiting that fateful moment? 

It probably shifts gradually.  One day–or maybe within the space of a week–the buds will fall off the maple trees.  Perhaps the green shoot of a leaf pushes the buds off.  I know there will come a day when we’ll be sweeping maple buds off the deck.  On another fine day–either in late May or June–yellow poplar fuzz will fly everywhere, heralding the arrival of green aspen leaves.

At what moment do the buds turn into leaves? At what hour?

Thinking about the ways in which we are blooming in our own lives.  The ways in which we are creating new buds, new leaves, new projects, new dreams, new desires, new possibilities. 

In what way are you budding in your life?

Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow!  May the love for our mothers bloom stronger in every springtime…

“If your flight doesn’t take off today, it will probably be one week until you can fly again.”

What it looked like outside the Houghton County Airport at 2:15 p.m. yesterday

Kathy and Barry arrived at the Houghton County Airport (CMX in case you’re looking up airport codes) in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula yesterday afternoon.  Their first boarding passes declared they were bound for ORD.  (As some of you might know, ORD stands for Chicago, USA.)

As Kathy and Barry approached the airport, they noticed it was snowing–again.  Here it is late April.  They think it is far too late for snow.  They think it should cease and desist–immediately. Houghton County airport sits atop an unprotected hill north of Hancock.  The wildest snows and the most ferocious winds blow here.  Fliers be forewarned.

OK, it looks like it's clearing up a little. MAYBE we'll get to fly out...

Barry said,  “We’re not going anywhere.”

Optimistic world-traveler Kathy replied, “You can’t think that way when you travel.  Anything happens.  Let’s just wait and see.”

Snow thickens. 

They enter security.  Kathy gets patted down, gently.  She doesn’t mind.  The security folks at CMX are the kind of people you want to take home for dinner.

After an interminable wait the loudspeaker cackles, “Folks going to Chicago on Flight–(whatever the flight was)–your plane has been diverted to Wausau (Wisconsin) because of the wind and visibility.  Once there they will decide whether they will return to this airport.”

Barry looks at Kathy.  Kathy looks at Barry.

Waiting, waiting. Will we stay or will we go?

They decide for Kathy to re-trace steps backwards through the security and gates and talk with a ticket agent.  The security folks allow, with a friendly smile.

The ticket agent says, “I am sorry.  If this plane doesn’t go out today, you’ll probably have to wait until next Tuesday.  This weekend is Michigan Tech University graduation and all the flights are overbooked.”  (That is exactly one week away.)

A plane hath landed! Will it go up in the air again in the snow?

It doesn’t look good, does it? Kathy re-traces her steps back into the security area. Kathy and Barry sit. Barry takes out the camera and starts taking pictures because optimistic Kathy is starting to feel pessimistic.

Suddenly–just when all hope is waning!–a plane lands!! Out of the blue. No announcement or anything. It’s THE plane for Chicago! Turns out it never went to Wausau at all. It was in the friendly skies, circling three times above CMX, trying to decide when to angle downward between snowdrops and wind gusts. It lands! Fifty passengers are happier than happy.

Passengers disembarking

Barry and Kathy and forty-eight other passengers board the little jet.  Then wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Beyond the allowable time to meet one’s next connection.  The de-icer machine comes out and sprays the jet with green de-icer to eliminate built-up snow and ice.  Then it sprays with orange de-icer.  The salt trucks are spraying the runways, out in the distance.

Finally, it looks like the plane will rise in the sky.  But will it STAY in the sky?  The flight attendant gives us a stern talking-to:  “Ladies and Gentlemen, I cannot stress this enough.  Put on your seatbelts, buckle them tightly, and Do Not Leave Your Seats until if and when the captain takes off the “fasten seat belt sign”.  It was a bumpy turbulent trip in, and I suspect it will be the same leaving.”

Ahhh, what confidence the passengers now have in the flight!  Everyone buckles in tightly and watches the snow envelop the plane.    Will the plane rise?  Will it make it to Chicago?  Will Kathy and Barry arrive at their destination, along with the other forty-eight passengers?

Where are Kathy and Barry this morning anyway? Are they still stuck in a snowstorm somewhere?

OK, OK, readers, Kathy is just teasin’ you all!  We’ve safely arrived.  Our second plane was delayed two hours before leaving Chicago, so we arrived here at 9:30 p.m. and fell asleep by midnight (Kathy, that is, fell asleep by midnight).  But that’s another story.  Stay tuned.  I have flower pictures for you blooming in the folder, awaiting to usurp the spring snowstorm and flight melodrama. 

Until soon…from somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line.

P.S.  for some crazy reason Kathy can’t get the comments to work even though she’s checked the appropriate buttons!  Will try again later…

P.S.S.   4:12 p.m.  After reading the WordPress forums for ten minutes, she finally discovered a backhanded way to turn on comments.  Phew!

Eyes in the woods

There are Eyes in the Woods.

Branch in the woods…claw in the woods?
Spring song of pussywillows
Veil of trees in the dim underworld of the woods
Tiny unfurling lupine. Not much bigger than your thumb.
Last year’s green spruce needles in this year’s spring puddle
Last autumn’s reeds draped against sticks in puddle
Tree and sky reflections in puddle
Stream at dusk

Reader, shall we walk through the woods?  Shall we amble up that hillock and down that ravine?  Shall we sit awhile on the damp soil, our jeans getting slightly wet?

What shall we hear at 7:30 p.m. in the Upper Peninsula Woods?

Can you hear that sweet-trilling bird song?  Why do the birds sing the sweetest in the springtime?  Is it because they are singing their hearts out for their true love?

Do you hear the Canadian geese honking in the distance as they wing north?  Can you discern how some of them are resting down on the Huron Bay, gathering energy before spreading wings upward tomorrow?

Did you hear that owl hoot, way to the north?  Or was that the sound of neighbor’s children, pretending?

The woods are alive with sound, a cacophony of noise surrounded by deep silence.  You can feel the silence everywhere.  You can also hear the sounds of spring peepers in some of the vernal pools.  You can hear chipmunks scurry in dried autumn leaves.  You wait for a deer or raccoon or bear to pass by your damp resting-place, but none appears.

We are so fortunate to have light at 7:30 p.m. at this time of year.  It’s still light at 8:30 p.m.  It’s dark at 9:30 p.m.

The woods run with streams and puddles everywhere.  Walk carefully.  Do not slip and tumble against the earth! 

There are eyes in the woods following you wherever you go.  If that worries you, stay out of the woods.  If you want to know the eyes better, if you want to find out what treasures they hide, keep walking.

Spring in the woods is a gift.  No mosquitoes.  No black flies.  No wood ticks.  Those creatures are still sleeping, or only blinking their slumbering eyes.

The woods are a haven that helps us breathe slower, deeper, fresher.  Silence percolates between our thoughts. 

The woods revives and heals, a magic of loamy soil and tall aspen.  It is better than your daily vitamin, better than the doctor’s chemical prescription.

Have you had your healing dose of nature today?  The eyes in the woods want to know.

Holy Cow! It snowed! (again…)

A little snow in a basketball hoop. :)

The Silver River
On our road
Snowy ice on aspen
Snow on the red red maple buds
Looking bleary-eyed off the deck into the woods
Looking bleary-eyed outside the kitchen window this morning.

I am so puzzled by WordPress lately.  The photos are now appearing in EXACTLY the opposite order that I am trying to show you.  Therefore, the blogger must adjust her story to reflect the opposite. 

It seems like one should start with the wake-up photos.  Here’s what it looked like when we rolled ourselves out of bed this morning.  Instead, we’re starting with the basketball hoop which really ended my story.  Alas.  That’s how you have to adjust in life.  Your beginning story is really your ending story.  Alas.

Never you mind.  Let’s go back to the beginning.  The beginning–in this instance–occurred at Midnight last night.  Barry rolled into bed.  (His wife had been asleep for at least two hours and maybe–just maybe–doesn’t even remember his rolling into bed.) 

He cracked opened the window.  It was raining.  Ahhh, beautiful spring rain.  Lovely spring rain.  Wonderful spring rain.

He woke again around 3 a.m.  No more rain.  Too bad, he thought, it would be nice to get a little more rain to make fire season a little less dangerous.

He woke again around–heck, I don’t know what time he woke up.  He woke up sometime and looked out the window and thought, “HOLY COW!  IT SNOWED!  No wonder I couldn’t hear the rain!”

(I don’t know that he would have used the words HOLY COW.  I am using artist license.  Imagining what he might have thought.)

By the time I threw off the covers and emerged into Saturday, April 23rd, we had three inches of new snow.  (What would YOUR reaction be?  Despair?  Bliss?  Somewhere in between?  Mine was actually awe with the beauty of the icy snow-laced trees.  But mostly because I know it melts quickly at this time of year.)

Took the camera and headed out to the school for more complicated reasons than can be articulated here.  OK, will give it a try.  Will provide a hint.

We are OFF on another adventure come Tuesday.  I won’t give it away yet.  Here are your clues.  Our destination is between 1,148 – 1,172 miles away.  Our daughter once sunned at this location on the exact same spot where a large black snake slithered several hours earlier.  Our son visited here in August.  There are blooming flowers at our mystery destination.

None of you who KNOW can answer.  Please.  Keep it mum.  Keep it silent.  It shall be a game for the non-knowers.

Our mystery destination has no snow.  No ice.  No winter.  (Therefore, I must go out to the school on a Saturday and prepare for my absence after taking pictures of snow in a basketball hoop.)

That is another reason I am not sunk in the throes of despair at Winter’s lingering presence.  We’re outa here.  SOON!

Heaven on earth (Good Friday & Earth Day musings)

When you look down

When you look up
Heaven on earth

It’s an overcast morning. 

The skies are gray with weeping clouds.  (Although the clouds have been overwhelmed by a rising sun and the sky looks orange behind that eastern spruce tree outside the window.)  I took the camera outside.  No.  Not a morning for photos.  Too dark, too dismal, too cloudy.

Yesterday I traveled to Marquette for a Title I Spring Workshop for the school.  About forty of us crammed in a small room at the Marquette Alger ISD to digest a presentation about new requirements.  Every year the state and federal government change their minds about what we’re suppose to do.  (In the name of accountability, you understand.) 

After the workshop I met Barry–who was in Marquette for Baraga’s track meet at the dome–for lunch.  It was a nice time together.  Our weekly “date”.

Upon returning home, it seemed an afternoon walk was required.  You know, to exercise after a long day in car & meeting. 

“Which way are you going?” Barry predictably asked. “Up the road or down the road?”

“I will know once I get to the road,” I predictably answered.

The feet headed down the road.  Ah-hah!  Looked like they were headed for the eagle pond or perhaps the lake.

But no.  They veered into the woods, toward the old hollowed-out tree where porcupines sometimes winter.  But then the feet did an even more unusual turn.  They headed almost to the deep-cut ravine, but started up through the woods on a perpendicular path to the road.

Luckily, most of the snow hath melted.  Luckily, the feet didn’t lead into one of those dastardly puddles of melted snow-water which appear all over the woods at this time of year.  (The feet have fallen in two of these puddles already this year.  Apparently they wanted the experience of being soaked.  However–I want you to know something.  It’s only the Mind which thinks this experience is Devastating.  The feet don’t mind.  If they’re walking, they don’t even feel cold and soaked.)

When you’re back in the woods without a compass, the Mind gets fussy.  It thinks you just might get lost this time and have to spend the night in the woods finally, after all these years.  Especially since you didn’t tell your husband where you were going because, of course, you didn’t know which way the feet would amble.  (Of course, I did learn how to make a debris survival hut back in Tom Brown Jr.’s wilderness survival course.  Here’s what you do if you have to spend the night in the woods.  Heap piles and piles of  leaves over your body and burrow in like an animal covered with fur.  Of course, you’ll shiver.  But you probably won’t freeze to death.  Except if it’s winter.  We won’t discuss winter.)

Yesterday the sun shone in the west without its cloak of clouds.  Therefore, unless the sun disappears, you know your way out of the woods.  Follow the sun.  Leisurely.  Marvel at the tiny tiny lupines leaves which are popping through the spring soil  (well, mostly along the road where they get enough sunlight.)  Marvel at pussy willows. 

Walk slower.  Slower still.  You’re in heaven on earth.  Just like what Jesus was saying to the people way back then.  Today is Earth Day and Good Friday.  It’s possible for it to merge, folks.  We can realize that heaven on earth is possible.  It’s possible to find our way out of the woods–even when we think we’re lost.  It’s possible to resurrect.  It’s possible to find heaven on earth.

I believe.

P.S.  Pardon the photos all bunched together at the top.  I tried to insert them in the blog at proper intervals, as usual.  However, the photos refused to cooperate even after two or three tries per photo.  That’s when you realize part of the Secret of Heaven on Earth is gracefully accepting the “what is” of allowing photos their independence.   :)

Please avert your eyes if you do not have a strong constitution.


Way too much ice for April!

I mean a strong constitution for snow in the middle of April.  If you’re totally in love with spring–and averse to any interruption to the blooming of daffodils–please quickly dash to another blog.  There are no daffodils hiding in this blog.  None at all.

Iced oregano

We were recently “blessed” with six or seven inches of snow.  It arrived with blustery zeal during two days–Saturday and Sunday.  It wiped out all traces of spring.  It dumped upon us with a fury, albeit with a strange haunting beauty.

Baby evergreens blanketed in snow. April snow. Mid-April snow.

This morning I wore Grandma’s snowmobile suit from the early 1970′s (or was that the late 1960′s?) and winter boots and hat and gloves and stumbled outside as the sun rose between the bare poplar and maple trees.

Decided to get re-acquainted with Ms. Camera.  Time to remember that second appendage to photographers-bloggers.  Our third hand.

Spruce in a blanket. Of snow.

I wasn’t going to post until tomorrow.  (Please, please, no eye rolling!)  But, if I don’t post today, it will be Too Late.  See end of blog to discover why. 

Baby spruce tree peering up out of snow blanket. "Is it spring yet, Mom?"

Hey, look! Its our house and shed through that snow-covered vista!

One of the most beautiful things in the world is a hushed dawn with a carpet of navigable snow beneath your feet.  You’ve eaten your Kashi cereal and drunk your organic coffee and checked your email and blog comments and you’re ready to go.

Our old, old, old Studebaker car. Which no longer runs. The scrap dealers might give us $400-600 for her. Hmmm....what a decision.

You amble around the property.  You look for appropriate photographable shots.  You eye the world with an appraising attentive eye.  Which views will give you what can be communicated?  And which views are better kept in the mind’s eye?  One must assess the difference.

Oh look. Theres our trailer parked under that tree.

You think that maybe you should come outside every morning.  Snow or rain.  Sunshine or gray skies.  You should.  You really should.  You shouldn’t make excuses to linger at the computer.

Cattail ice cream cones??

OK, surprisingly, we’ve come to the end of this blog already.  Who wants to guess why we must post today–this afternoon–and not wait until tomorrow morning?

Because it’s APRIL–that’s why!  And we all know what happens on sunny April afternoons.

The snow melts.

And melts so quickly you can almost forget that it existed in the hushed dawn.

If we don’t post Now, it will be a completely new world.  A snow-less world.  A world of–dare I say it?–blooming daffodils.

I hope you enjoyed our little trek in the snow.  I hope you were all wearing YOUR snowmobile suits from the 1970′s or 1960′s.  I hope you all remembered how to use your camera. 

Let’s go again tomorrow morning, shall we?  At least in our imagination?

“Barry, I’m never going to blog again.” Yeah, right.

How about a little Palm Sunday barbecue on the deck?

Day 1.  April 8.  “Barry, I’m never going to blog again.”  (Barry rolls his eyes, but does not disagree.  Good husband.)

Day 2.  April 9.  “Barry, I’m really enjoying not blogging.  Not having to take pictures.  This is great.  It really feels wonderful!” 

Day 3, 4 and 5: April 10, 11 and 12.  Sitting outside in woods.  Quiet.  Not very many thoughts.  Crazy creative thoughts finally calm down.  Phew…ahhh….this feels good.  “Barry, I really like not blogging.”

Day 6.  April 13.  Conversation with Dad, in Florida.  Dad:  When are you going to start blogging again?  Me:  Oh, not for–two or three weeks.  Barry doesn’t think I’m going to last, though.  Dad:  Kath, I hate to disagree with you.  You know how I usually agree with you.  But you’re going to start blogging again, soon.  Me:  NO I’M NOT!

Our six to seven inch April snowstorm. :)

Day 7.  April 14.  “Barry, I’m really kinda–almost–starting to miss blogging. But I’m not going to blog again until May.  Really.”  (Barry:  do we have to talk about this?  Kathy:  YES!)

Day 8.   April 15.  “Barry, how many days until May?”

Day 9.  April 16. Snowstorm.  Six or seven inches of snow. Cabin fever.  “Barry, gosh, if I were blogging we could go take pictures of this snowstorm.  Gosh, I’m really, really missing blogging.  Gosh, I don’t know how I can wait until next Thursday.  That will be two weeks.  How can I wait until next Thursday???”

Day 10:  April 17.  Today.  Blog-yearning starts at 7 a.m.  Accelerates.  By 1 p.m. it’s an ache.  By 5 p.m. the desire is enough to flatten an innocent bystander.  “Barry, I’m going to write a blog.  I can’t stand it.”   Barry: NO!  You’re NOT!  You’re never going to blog again, remember?  5:15.  5:30.  5:45 p.m……   BARRY, I’m going to write a blog!!!!   It’s been ten whole days.  That’s a nice break, right??

Hi, readers.  Smiling sheepishly.  Glad to see you again! 

Goldfinch in the spring snowstorm

I’m going to listen the snow melt. The grass grow. See you later!

Cutting off this blog--I need a break--I'll be back.

It’s time again.

Last blogging break on Lake Superior Spirit was–hold on a sec, must check–December 29th through January 10th.   (Just counted on the fingers.  That was thirteen days.)

I would have lasted longer for the epiphany-of-winter blogging break, except for the gall bladderless situation (said organ was removed right before Christmas in a laparoscopic way). 

Did.  Not.  Feel.  Well.  Finally decided to leap back in to the blogging world because “girls just want to have fun“.  Blogging is fun.  It makes you forget the discomfort in your gall bladderless area.

And–as we all know–blogging is a miracle medicine!  It made me feel better. Provided giggles.  Friendship.  Entertainment.  Excitement.  All the usual blogging thrills.

Three months after surgery–March 20th, to be exact–I started feeling well again.  Remarkably well.  So well that evening would arrive, followed by the thought, “Hey!  I didn’t think about the gall bladderless area all day!”  Life was returning to normal.

Fast forward to this last week.  I have suddenly been longing for silence again.  A blogless respite.  A blogless vacation.  Time off.  (But of course–the part of me that loves blogging is scowling and carrying on and whimpering.  Therefore you must speak sternly to the part of yourself which would write a blog every day until you die:  shhhh, quiet now.  We need a break.  You’ve had center stage for a while now.  The rest of us want to watch the ice melt.  The grass grow.  It’s just a vacation.  Shush, now.)

The blog-lover part tried to subvert the blogless plan.  It slyly suggested this morning, “Hey!  Here’s your next blog.  Let’s go to one of your secret outdoor places and blog about it.  Let’s take pictures of the ice melting and the grass re-appearing…and how about your pileated woodpecker skull?  C’mon!  What else do you have happening today anyway?”

Usually this kind of talk is enough to make one succumb to the creative blogging self.  And I almost did.

Drove to the Secret Spot along Lake Superior.  The spot hardly anyone knows about.  You have to go down a secret hill and walk along secret rocks.  It’s a sacred special place…

Except something in me said, “Enough“.  Enough sharing.  Enough sharing.  Enough sharing.  Stop moving outward for a while.  Move inward.  Listen more.  Share less.  Be quiet.  Be quiet.  Be quiet

“But I love to share photos and stories,” I try one last time, but the silence within drowns out my attempts to continue blogging without a break.

OK.  The silence wins.  I am going to watch the snow melt.  The ice melt.  To watch the green grass reappear and start to grow.  To maybe witness a Spring Beauty blossom emerge from the forest floor.  To listen to robins sing before the first light stains the sky.  To watch spring come. 

Snow melting. Grass growing.

How long will I be gone?  Now you sound like Barry.  He always wants to know whether I’ll be walking up the road or down the road.  Where am I going? 

I say, “I have no idea, Barry.  If something calls me down the road, that’s where I’ll go.  Or maybe a chickadee will call up the road, and the feet shall follow her song.”

I’ll be back when the vacation is over.  When the blogger decides she’s had enough listening to the grass grow.  Maybe in ten days.  Maybe in two weeks.  Maybe a month.

How can you predict these things? 

Hoping you enjoy the green sprouts as they seed and flower in the April of your lives.  Hoping you have time to sit upon the earth listening to the grass grow.  (In the woods you can really hear the grass grow.  It rustles and moves through the cover of dried autumn leaves.)

Hope to see you soon!



We live in Lake Wobegon.

Rotten ice on Lake Wobegon--I mean on Keweenaw Bay

Everybody knows about Lake Wobegon, right?

It’s a fictional little town in Northern Minnesota made famous by story-telling Garrison Keillor (one of my story-telling heroes.)

Garrison hosts a radio show called “Prairie Home Companion” on Minnesota Public Radio every Saturday night at 6 p.m. in the Eastern Time Zone. 

We’ve listened to Prairie Home Companion–on and off–since we moved to the shores of Lake Superior back in the late 1970′s.  Once we even traveled to the old Ishpeming theatre with our friends Bertha and Bob to listen to the Butch Thompson Trio, one of Garrison’s standard bands  back in the early ’80′s.

We don’t listen much these days.  But every time I happen to discover Garrison telling one of his wild & crazy stories about Lake Wobegon (get it?  Woe be gone!) a smile arises involuntarily and you know–you just know–that you live in Lake Wobegon, too. 

It happened yesterday.  I was driving to town to buy eggs and cherry tomatoes and onions for enchiladas and frozen juice–on a Sunday afternoon–and happened to stumble upon a repeat show from Saturday night.  (I did not buy the cherry tomatoes.  They cost $4.99 for a quart.  An ominous sign proclaimed that crop failures in California or someplace was resulting in exorbitant prices this year.)

Garrison was broadcasting out of New York City.  My ears perked up, because we have a loved one living in NYC.  Part of me wishes I was in NYC right now visiting said loved daughter. 

He started bringing us the news from Lake Wobegon.

Please excuse all my wrong facts about this story.  I had no plans to write a blog, and probably have only about 63.5% of the tale correct.

A service group in Lake Wobegon had put an old car on the rotten ice on the lake.  “Rotten” ice is ice that is melting quickly and cannot be walked upon any more.  All the fishing shacks have been taken off, but the entire town waits breathlessly and buys tickets to bet on the exact day and hour the car will go through the ice and sink into the lake.  (A huge chain is attached so it will eventually be towed out of the lake.)

The funny part of this story is that our little town of L’Anse, on the shores of Keweenaw Bay, used to do the same thing.  Put a car out on the ice and sell tickets betting on its sinking.  Until the Michigan Department of Natural Resources or Department of Environmental Quality–whatever it was called back then–declared that was the craziest most polluting thing anyone could do and banned the ice-melting car-sinking fund-raiser.

Garrison Keillor said the Lake Wobegon service group would use the funds to send one of their brightest young people to a good college.

Then–in his magnificent story-telling meandering–he began to share that the brightest of the young folks will then leave Lake Wobegon, never to be seen again as they become successful and live successful lives anywhere other than Lake Wobegon.

He said the only ones you’ll get to know as you age along the shores of the lake are the challenged kids, the ones with problems, who stay home and don’t go anywhere.  (Garrison, that was not politically correct or even accurate.  tut-tut.  There are a LOT of kids without problems who choose to stay on the shores of the lake and raise their families.  Which you know.  Except you are a good story-teller so you exaggerate just a tad to make us laugh and make us see the truth hiding out in your stories.)

He also said the kids who are planning to be film makers will also come home to live in Lake Wobegon and stay for twenty or thirty or sixty years and end up changing our diapers before we die (I think I am making up the part about diapers) while we will never see the successful kids again because they’re out being successful–but it will be the problem kids, the challenged kids, the unmotivated kids, the would-be filmmakers, whom we’ll live with on a daily basis, whom we’ll get to know in their middle age.

OK, readers, by the time Garrison finished his story (my gosh how quickly it shifted from cars sinking into the ice to our children to dying!) I was crying in the car, having completely forgotten the high cost of cherry tomatoes.

Weeping.  Thinking about our bright children on two coasts of the country–although one of them may still attempt to become a filmmaker–so maybe someone will return.  Thinking about the young folks we see every day–like the teacher aide who graduated with Chris (who is a fine young woman, not problematic at all) and the auto mechanic downtown and the woman who cuts my hair and the smiling cashier at Pat’s Foods. Thinking how we will see them–day in and day out–for the next twenty or thirty or forty years and…

Well, this is getting rather sad, isn’t it?  Garrison called it one of the “great ironies of life.”  His story kept tying together these ironies, one after another, until he had a chain of ironies and I was weeping in the car, sure that we lived on Lake Wobegon, sure of nothing except the ice is rotten and Garrison is one of the best story-tellers on the planet.

**And that’s the news from Lake Wobegon, folks.  I mean–the shores of the Keweenaw Bay in big and beautiful Lake Superior.  Stay tuned next week, or maybe tomorrow, for more stories bound to make you laugh or cry or ponder the great planetary ironies.

Purple-pink dawn, first robin, spring snow and enchiladas

Horizontal pink-purple dawn

Would you like a good-morning view from our deck this morning at dawn? 

Beautiful purple-pink colors, yes?

Vertical dawn

The Dawn Show only lasted for five minutes.

That’s all.

Before it disappeared and gray skies took control of the horizon.

How quickly we must admire, must appreciate, before life takes on another view!  Don’t blink!  You’ll miss the splendor of the purple-pink moment…

Our first robin! Seven days behind schedule...

If you blink, you’ll miss the first spring robin. 

Our eyes have been staring at the side lawn for days now.  Since March 27th to be exact.

March 27th is my friend Lyn’s birthday.  Usually robins appear by her birthday.  This year they were scarce–probably hiding out in downstate Michigan.  You can’t blame them.  The ground is still mostly frozen around these parts, and robins must pull up worms from half-way thawed soil. 

Today the first robin appeared.  Barry–the eagle eye–spotted it.

“Kathy!  There’s a robin!” he exclaimed.

I ran toward the robin, which now paused in the tree.  Scurried outside to take it’s official northern photograph.  It paused momentarily before bursting into flight.  A crow’s shadow flapped overhead.  The dawn skies applauded.

Mourning dove--right on schedule. Happy to see you, Ms. Dove!

Two mourning doves have been waddling around the garden, mostly under the feeder.  One mourning dove has disappeared in the last few days.  Is it nesting?  Have the first two doves disappeared, to be replaced by a third passer-by?  Who knows?  The dove pecks at seeds.  The finches and chickadees mostly ignore it.

April snow

This afternoon–after the purple-pink dawn, the first robin, and the April rain showers, the snow showers appeared.  Snow swirled and dipped and splayed against the branches. 

The doves disappeared.  The robin disappeared.  The dawn was long gone. 

Only the snow remained, showering us with big fat white flakes.  The world transformed into a winter wonderland, a place where doves and robins wouldn’t dream of intruding.

“April Fools!” the snow shouted.

The doves rolled their eyes.  The robin pecked at the ground.  We scurried inside and stoked our woodstove and made spinach-pinto bean enchiladas for dinner.