Storm Approaches
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The Harbor Journal.
Winter Storm Approaches

"...when we don't live with birds or weather or waves we lose the opportunity to think hard about ourselves, to discover from nature important facts about human nature."
(excerpted from Nancy Lord's, Fishcamp)

Ready For A Change

March 4, 1999.

Let's see. 3,500 gallons per day divided by 100 gallons-per-capita-per-day (a rule-of-thumb water system design factor I vaguely remember from my engineering days) yields 35 per-capitas. That's seems a bit too many. 35 people using our little village's water system in mid-March? No way! Ah, but the Inn was open on the day in question. I need to adjust for the water Mary used to cook the dinners and wash the dishes for the out-of-towners. Probably also need to adjust for our old, leaky, WPA installed, village water pipes. That gets it down to about 25 - about the number here now.

So goes my mind on a wintery day at the Harbor as I pursue the latest annual water pumpage report generated by our always-vigilant water system one-man band, Don Keith. The report shows that on March 19th of last year, about 3,500 gallons were pumped out of the deep wells back by Eliza. That was the low for the year. The high? Well, you were probably here. August 1st. The day when the busy pumps sent over 36,000 gallons down the big new pipe along the Copper Falls stamp trail to the 300 to 400 gathered at the Harbor for their annual summer sojourn. Isn't that fascinating?

Yes folks, the winter's getting long and I'm obviously really scrambling for excitement! I'm ready for a change. One too many trips in the flashing red box to the Marquette General cath temple have kept me a bit too camp bound. I've read, or re-read, everything in sight - The Conquest of Mexico, No Ordinary Times, stacks of Gazettes and WS Journals, Wired magazine (a favorite), etc, and now Township water system reports. Gibbon's Decline and Fall... beckons from the top shelf, a formidable read. Hopefully the winter will lift before that becomes too tempting.

My writing, as you have probably noticed, has been neglected. The blank pages and screens of personal andHarbor Web journals speak eloquently of the passivity of what few creative juices I sometimes possess. Well, I have done some writing. Just finished a massive 65 page set of specifications for our new fire truck; a mind numbing tome of revelations about pumps, engines, axles and other body parts too intimate to mention. Upon completion, I realized that I'd left out the most important facet - the fire truck's color! Do you suppose someone will try to low-ball us with a polka-dot truck? Well, for $50,000 less, why not?

It's not that the Harbor scene is devoid of anything worth writing about. Sure, it's quiet, but most of us still here in March find the solitude appealing. The Wonderdog and I hiked around to the marina this afternoon in a gentle snow. The lake was still noisily licking its wounds from last night's strong northerlies, and the rhythmic crunch of boots and paws in the soft new snow underfoot simply added to the sensory pleasure. We were out for a couple of hours and except for a curious, yet cautious, doe (out of Abby's sight) and a couple of snowshoe rabbits (which she chased in great gusto), we were alone. No people, no cars - nothing! It was wonderful!

And the late winter sky - what a visual treat it is. Today was an array of billowing "lake effect" snow clouds, often dark and menacing at their base, yet pinkish tinged dove white at their tops, moving rapidly in from the restless lake. If you resist the instinctive head down stance in the driving snow and biting wind chill, and lift your head to gaze overhead, you are often rewarded with glimpses of the blue of the spring and summer to come.

Aficionados of Bill Jackson's Harbor cam have been able to share the glory of several "fire on ice" sunsets in the past few weeks. The static, soundless, low resolution computer monitor replica does little justice to the real thing, yet, their splendor is such that Bill's sunset web cam pictures have become screensaver "keepers" for many across the world. We who are here, however, have the added joy of feeling the cold penetrate into our being, hearing the lake mummer or shout its good evening blessing, sensing the surge of swell and wave, and, being visually dazzled by the deepening blue twilight and darkening red sunlight reflecting off the white ice, often fractured by ice prisms into a rainbow of sparkling color. Winter sunsets, in deference I assume to the intense cold of the evening, are mercifully quick.

And, of course, there is the ever present and, for now at least, continuing snow. The pre-Christmas drought diminished any hope of a "big" snow year, but we are slowly digging our way into what will probably be a "normal" year - about 20 feet of one of nature's most beautiful, if not always most pleasant, gifts. The ground cover, drifts, and road and camp-side banks have all shrunk a bit since mid-January, but the about 8" of new "lake effect" snow of the past few days has once again transformed the Harbor and its environs into a brilliant white snowscape. The trees are unclothed, and the harbor is a mostly open cauldron of molten lead hued water, so the scene is not of post card quality, but bewitching nonetheless.

I do miss the color. The Harbor Web page design is purposively full of the color that bespeaks of Keweenaw in its glorious summer bloom. The soft brown of beach sand, the blue of our big lake water and the sky it reflects, the bright and muted greens of the surrounding forest, and the red of flower and sunset. Albeit, a limited palette compared to the real thing, but all the few color fonts the HTML web language offers. A winter Harbor Web could just as well skip theses color fonts. White and a light gray would suffice.

Dr. Bob Rowe recently sent me a picture he took last summer from his Tower and Lantern cottage. My sailboat, Peregrine, is cruising down the harbor, its towering white sail set against a sparkling deep blue sea and a beautifully clouded sky tinged in the every shade of blue imaginable. White wave crests move across the rust colored basalt entry cribs and protecting reef outcrops in the background. A richly textured and brightly colored sea wall of gathered harbor shore rock is in the foreground - and nestled in its rock planter is a brilliant gathering of red, yellow, orange blue, green and white summer flower. I almost wept!

So goes this early March, the month that all but a few local die-hards regard as the last gasp of winter. We will get some more snow, and I'll relish every inch of it - but I'm ready for a change. When I got so wrapped up in the water pumpage report, and became teary-eyed at the reminder of the color to come, I realized how ready I was.

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