Storm Approaches
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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)

Good News

December 5, 1998.

I'm munching on a late morning breakfast of corn bread muffins and thimbleberry jam while watching and listening to a cold rain splatter against my harbor view window. Less than three weeks from winter solstice, this western and northern most outpost of the eastern time zone is still clothed in darkness at eight a.m. - the darkness accentuated by rain clouds that seem to be too burdened with water to lift from the barren landscape of the snowless Keweenaw outcrop.

A brisk southeast wind is pushing unsettled harbor water up against the exposed rocks occupying the shallow shoreline a few steps from my door, rocks that have not tasted the surface since the lake dropped to this level three generations ago. Although I cannot yet see this interplay of water and shore, the rhythmic chatter of still summer-warmed water churning through irregular shoreline is perceptible. A quite different sound than we will hear when the water cools and thumps against the beach.

The forecast is not encouraging. The rain will persist and while the wind will veer around to the northwest over the course of the day, bringing the hint, but not the promise, of the eagerly awaited snow, this breaking day appears to be fit only for hunkering in camp. A day for the cozy comfort and brightness of the fireplace, some catching up on my deferred chore list, and the opportunity to continue my current reading passion, historian William Prescott's lively and beautifully written account of sixteenth century conquests in Mexico and Peru by conquistadors Cortes and Pizarro. An escape from our times and travails!

Hunkering in for a day or two is probably a good thing considering the events of this past week. I once again experienced the skill and caring of my medical friends at Marquette General as they probed for the cause of a frustrating return of the coronary artery deficiencies that seem to have been my lot over the past few years. All now seems to be back in order. After what must be at least my twentieth visit to the magic kingdom of the cath lab disclosed some scar tissue blockage of a couple of the five new bypasses installed last May, the docs did the balloon trick to restore blood flow. What a blessing it is to live in a time when such remedies exist! In any event, the Harbor walkabouts, which have been on hold for the last week or two, will continue to be curtailed for at least a few more days.

In truth, I relish days like this. Certainly not as a steady diet, but on the few occasions they occur they are a welcomed respite. Most Harbor days, including those of our winters, are so rich with opportunity that they compel one to venture about. The beauty and vitality of our natural environment, the richness of the area's history and culture, and the comforting camaraderie of our small community, all serve to lure body and soul into the world outside of camp. But camp, my perhaps irreverent appellation for what is in fact a haven of creature comforts and a rich reservoir of revered treasures and memories, is not without its own lure.

Not the least of the lure of camp for me is its unique role my life as sort of a platform, to use the jargon of our age of computer, for physical and metaphysical nurture and exploration. On days such as this, when the elements and/or other limitations suggest or compel "hunkering in", the "camp" is a place of rest, reprieve, and renewal - in both body and soul. The comfortable fireside chair, the wall of cherished books, the familiarity and comfort of scores of family pictures and memento, the unexplored cache of periodicals, books and letters, and, perhaps of greatest import, the freedom to linger without remorse, all combine to transform "hunkering", sometimes suggestive of a state approaching comatose, into a time of lively renewal.

The day is now upon us, and its faint light confirms the sense of the darkness - it's a damp, cold and gray Eagle Harbor day, with little sign of reprieve. The body is weary from its recent trial. A day to hunker in. What a blessed day it will be!

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