Storm Approaches
Eagle Harbor Web
An unofficial source of Eagle Harbor, Michigan news, views and information.

Winter Storm Approaches

A Harbor Journal

"...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)

Fall Winter 2006-2007

A History Tour (02/14/07)
“Geez, it looks like a white wall coming off the lake.” It does my heart good to hear this kind of plow driver chatter on my scanner. One would think after years of coping with our winter snows our stalwart snowplow jockeys would get a bit jaded about the conditions they encounter. Not so, their unguarded comments often convey the wonder and adrenaline generating excitement we all feel when the big lake effect clusters pounce upon the Keweenaw. It’s one thing to sit here placidly alongside my fire watching it all happen outside my window, but certainly quite another to be high in the cab of one of those monstrous orange machines, desperately searching for the roadside snow banks and stalled vehicles in whiteout conditions. No wonder they get excited. God bless them!

Indeed, just after this report, my view across the harbor is totally obliterated as the “white wall” moves ashore. It’s just one of several such events throughout this day, and almost every day for the past month. It’s classic lake effect, bursts of whiteout interspersed with moments of clearing, even at times glimpses of beautiful blue sky and our hide-n-seek sun. And it’s usually partnered with big northerly or northwesterly wind, the gusts stirring up the loose snow blanketing the iced over harbor and big lake ice shelf and sending it scampering down the harbor in giant tornado like swirls - reminding me at times of beautiful white clad figure skaters whirling their way across Olympic ice sheets. It’s quite a show, the best entertainment in this locked in winter little town.

But there is additional entertainment up in the Copper towns, or so I discovered a day or so ago when a good friend and neighbor, who shall remain nameless, pulled up in his toasty warm 4WD, shoved the building snow off my stoop, banged open my door and said in my startled presence, “Say, let’s go up and check out some of those old Copper Country bars you’re always talking about.” I’ll confess, I’ve often expressed my interest, indeed fascination, in the scores of sleepy little bars that still linger in the decaying remnants of the copper boom downtowns, but the interest has been more academic, you know, I’m a local history buff, than driven by thirst. But the camp fever bug was stirring in my soul, so in the name of expanding my knowledge of our glorious history I acquiesced and off we went – at about mid-morning on a Sunday!

Now for many who follow these journals, the names of the historical sites we visited are probably all too familiar, but for this innocent they were new territory. Our first stop, the UP Bar on Red Jacket’s 5th Street is a classic – or so I initially thought, finding out later that they are all pretty much alike. But wondrous nonetheless. I’ll admit to glancing up and down 5th Street as we trod our way through fresh sidewalk snow to the nondescript door, hoping not to be spotted by any of my Harbor neighbors on their way home from church. And I was pleased to see just a few snow prints of fellow voyeurs near the door, assuring me of minimal witness to my early Sunday morn transgression. But alas, after groping my way inside, waiting for my not so good eyes to adjust to the mine shaft darkness that I learned is the norm for these old miner haunts, and after stumbling over the fat but friendly bar dog, another mainstay of good Copper Country bars, I was shocked to discover the place was heavily populated, with just enough space at the long bar for my guide and I to squeeze between a couple of guys broodingly eyeing their half empty whiskey shots – the surprising number of patrons obviously holdovers from before the latest snowfall or back door customers.

We quickly caught the attention of Kim, the bubbly blond bartenderess, seemingly delighted to find a couple of new faces, and hopefully better tippers, among what I’m sure were pretty steady, well perhaps more regular than steady, Sunday morning customers. Even the bar pooch, forgiving my arrival kick, nuzzled up against my leg, tail wagging in a friendly gesture, hoping this new blood would respond to his begging. I wondered what would please him, probably a beer. As my eyes slowly adjusted to the dim interior, the only light source being the flickering images of bowling on the TV and the flashing keno displays, I was transfixed by the view of a massive, quite beautiful, and obviously very old dark sculpted oak encased and heavily mirrored back bar, a legacy of the days when the UP Bar was probably the cat’s meow among Copper Country bars. (My guide informing me that when these old bars meet their demise, the last act of the sad proprietor is to sell the back bar, by that time the bar’s only asset, to someone from the big cities to lend some class to a new upscale watering hole or to the well to do for a bit of mansion nostalgic décor.) My spell of historical cataloguing was gently interrupted by Kim, assuring me that the wonderful back bar would remain a Fifth Street fixture as long as blokes like me continued to pay their bar stool rent, i.e. what would I like to drink.

I was sure a request for my usual, a nice glass of good chardonnay would generate an embarrassing howl, and probably a nip from the guard dog, so settled for a draft of Blue, a safe bet in such a place. My guide, however, more experienced in such matters, ordered a shot of booze and a beer, apparently from the array of shot glasses and beer bottles I saw perched in front of my bar buddies, the house favorite. A boilermaker, my guide pointed out, something that as a Purdue grad I should know about (I was too poor for such delights), and to be a purists the shot, glass and all, should be dumped into the beer. My bar stool buddy, nursing his own version, brandy and beer, mumbled his support, and now having my attention began to unload his life story. The pooch backed away, he’d obviously heard it before.

And such a story it was, properly yanking me from the safe cocoon of my cushy and relatively uneventful life at Eagle Harbor into the reality of life for far too many of my Copper Country neighbors. Yes, a sad tale, and I’m a sucker for such tales, but with enough jarring truths to hold my attention. Here’s a young man, probably in his early thirties, born and raised in the copper towns, parent, along with what he kept referring to as his longtime “significant other”, of five pre-teens, wandering from one minimum wage job to another, including recent stints reroofing homes torn apart by Gulf storms and working god awful hours in the gruesome bellies of Alaskan canneries – living in tents while away on those jobs because of the life threatening ethic and racial strife rampant in the company housing camps. He’s now driving a delivery truck for a local furniture store, also at minimum wage, learning just this past week that a promised 25 cent an hour job longevity wage increase will be cancelled because of the anticipated increase in the minimum wage. A soft spoken, polite young man, badly in need of a haircut, still with a mischievous grin, sparkling eyes and a positive demeanor despite the tribulation of his life. What, thought this old fuddy-duddy, whose never know such trials in his own life, is this young man doing in the UP Bar on a Sunday morn, downing his brandy and beers? He probably didn’t ponder why I was there. His story and circumstance is not unlike that of many young men and women living on the edge of our pacific north country community.

It took a couple more Blues (boilermakers for my guide) to persevere through this long sad tale, but finally, somewhat sobered by the encounter, and after popping for a round for the storyteller (not a good idea), I joined my guide for the next stop on our historic tour – the North End Bar, another 5th Street masterpiece with deep roots in our town’s culture. The crowd was a bit livelier (we certainly were at this point), even a few gals sprinkled about, and the environs a bit brighter thanks to a brightly lit pool table and an awesome array of electronic games parked against the walls, each flashing a little light show and making enticing sounds as they vied for our attention. The North End seems to be more of a working man’s bar, (compared to the UP Bar which seemed to cater more to the out of work, never worked and the long retired), sporting trendier offerings, like a big cooler display of Red Bull, the latest high energy concoction, and several home made signs offering “working man’s specials”. I noticed, however, that most of these working man's specials, like a featured burger and draft of $1.25 were only available during working hours, like 2 to 5 weekdays, making me wonder what the deal was. Once again a big pooch served as the unofficial greeter and sanctioned beggar. We ordered up some more Blues after turning down an offer of a shot of some just twenty proof rum-associated stuff in a classy looking bottle. I think the friendly proprietress quickly sized us up as a couple of big spending smoothies from the north end of Keweenaw. It’s apparently a place for serious partyers; I noted that the urinals in the men’s restroom were complete with safety grab bars.

And then off to our last stop, the truly historic and legendary Luigi’s, a place on Portland just off 5th Street I suspect my mom and her sisters, based on their stories of their reckless and youthful Calumet days, must surely have frequented. With its dazzling old world terrazzo floor, beautifully paneled antique walls and doors, wonderfully crafted old brass hardware, and its huge and very handsome back bar, Luigi’s is a real gem - the kind of place you’d take your mother to. Indeed, my guide told me he did just that a few years back, she with her poor eyesight and slight hearing loss believing they were at Toni’s, sounds the same, and promptly sat down at a table waiting for the pasty to arrive. (I knew his mom, and suspect that mischievous and crafty lady was a bit wiser to the situation than he remembers, or is willing to confess.)

Luigi’s, slightly more upscale than its Red Jacket competitors (no bar dog), is also a more intimate gathering place, more like the stereotypical English pub, devoid the big empty dancehall feel of UP North and the North End, and certainly brighter with its big storefront window. The patrons seemed a bit more youthful and a bit hipper, some even sporting cell phones, still a rare sight in our copper towns, but, of course, by now it’s early afternoon and the more serious morning “breakfast” crowd we encountered further up 5th Street had likely departed for their afternoon snooze. Lots of the friendly banter one enjoys in a gathering of old friends, with only the two walk-in strangers not cozying up to the bar. A seemingly endless game of English darts was the chief entertainment, with all but the two strangers participating. I sensed a silent invitation to join in, but by now our aim was pretty poor and it seemed a bit awkward to crash the family gathering. It was just such a pleasure to sit at our little jukebox side table, sipping the last of the Blues, my guide by now sworn off the boilermakers, and soak in the wonder of this old copper town bar.

Our drive back to the Harbor was slow, but uneventful. This initially hesitant Sunday local history tour participant was by now completely enthralled with the idea and only the steady hand and good sense of my guide and driver kept us from adding the Cliff View and/or the Vansville to our list of historic sites visited on this snowy Copper Country day. But hopefully there will be other days – there are still at least thirty of these gems yet to be explored.

So, I’ve digressed from what embarked as yet another sharing of our fascination with winter storms. But other interests also fill our days, not the least of which is our fascination with our colorful Copper Country history – my digression simply a product of my good friend and helpful guide’s creative way of drinking it in. I hope you enjoyed it – I certainly did!

Deep Winter (02/06/07)
The signs of “deep winter” are all too apparent. It’s damnably cold, more so than I’ve previously experienced up here, the snow piling up on my front stoop and woodpile trail has moved from broom sweep and stomp out to shovel and Yooper scooper stage, the sightings of warm blooded bipedals are pretty much limited to my mail carrier, the sledders making their ritual runs up to the lighthouse, and the daily swoop about the harbor by the pair of eagles camped for the winter on the nearby Silver Island. I’m watching a couple of coyotes prowl about on the snowfield that covers the harbor ice, wondering what they are up to. I doubt if it’s a recreational romp, coyotes never struck me as much for fun, but the hunting prospects look pretty slim out there. Perhaps, like me, they sense the early stages of camp fever and just need an outing. I remember a few years ago, as the lake ice field began to stretch to Isle Royale in another deep winter and I was also desperate for a little adventure, I too ventured out onto the lake ice – an ill-advised experience that I won’t repeat, nor hopefully will my four footed furry friends.

Today, while still lingering in what hopefully are the last throes of the massive Alberta Clipper system that pounced on the Keweenaw over the past weekend, did evidence a little warming, at least it got above zero, and there were even a few teasing moments of sunshine leaking through breaks in the LES cloud clusters. Such moments are dazzling beautiful; the now heavily snow laden evergreens proudly strutting their glorious display of rich greens and cloaks of gleaming white, the fields of wind sculpted fresh snow draped over the harbor ice and our camps gracefully hiding the blemishes and hard edges that lie beneath, and all in diamond like sparkle as the hardened ice crystals inherent in lake effect snow are energized by the brilliant sunlight.

One is tempted in such moments to venture out, to experience the joy of tromping about in the crunchy snow, to bask in the wonder of nature at its peak of winter wonder, even to strap on the skies and test one’s mettle on the now opened Harbor cross-country trails. I was certainly so tempted, but, alas, such fleeting moments of exuberance are tempered by the prospect of bone chilling sub-zero wind driven temperatures and, in my case, the reluctantly accepted recognition that a body recovering from surgery and limited by an ailing heart would be sorely tested by an encounter with such a deep winter environment. I’ll defer, at least until it gets a bit warmer. I need to focus on getting my strength back for a coming summer of big lake sailing – an even more enticing prospect.

But others are not so easily diverted from sampling the wonder of this late arriving but now almost credible Keweenaw winter. Convoys of snowmobilers have seemingly emerged from their early winter despair and are zooming about our little town and its environs. Both our ski hills, Ripley and Bohemia, are shouting their glee with the new found snow, and hopefully attracting the well heeled crowds that make our area inn keepers so happy. The area’s cross-country trails, arguably the best in the Midwest, are all reporting “excellent” conditions and lots of skiers. The bitter cold gives me pause, but it will pass, and what the heck, when you are young and hardy who cares, it just adds to the challenge and the joy, or so I once thought. And even though this is a disappointing winter by our standards, we still have more of the white stuff around than anyone else east of the Rockies - a monopoly on winter fun.

And, of course, there are those crazy kids at Tech. Out pecking away at frozen snow in the darkness of these bitterly cold deep winter nights, building their mind boggling Winter Carnival sculptures as they try to forget the upcoming exams – complemented by a wonderful array of hilarious winter games, one of my favorites being the “bowling” where surely unwilling and probably bombed participants are “bowled” down an ice sheet in an attempt to knock over as many of their competing “pin” colleagues as possible. In a similar vein, I attempted a few years ago to convince my Harbor neighbors to build an outdoor ice stadium where we could all gather about in front of a giant TV in the cold darkness to watch the Super Bowl - this was back in the long ago era when the Packers were contenders – but our enthusiasm for the idea waned as a thaw arrived, I can’t remember if it was the weather or the Packers.

So deep winter can be enjoyable if you are able to detect and relish the few fleeting moments when nature is at its exciting best, whether it be a “white out” blizzard as we just experienced or the bursts of color and sparkle we witnessed in today’s brief encounter with sunshine. A positive attitude helps – plentiful ice and snow afford unusual opportunities for playful fun for the hardy, and for those of us less hardy, the joy of witness. We make the most of what nature has provided us.

Perhaps that’s what the ice-prowling coyotes are up to – just out having a little deep winter fun.

. At Last - A Blizzard (02/02/07)
No long-winded philosophical journalizing this late day. It’s much too cold at my web site station to linger long over the keyboard. But I’m in good spirits, relishing our first blizzard of this wannabe good old-fashioned Copper Country winter, and I feel compelled to share these good tidings with you.

There isn’t much to see out my window. All is white and blurry. My early morn “out my window” photo captured the murky beginnings of this day of continuous lake effect snow squalls pouncing on the Keweenaw, but the faint outlines of the harbor shouldering ridges and the harbor shore hugging cottages dimly apparent in that photo, are now obliterated by swirling snow, as they have been for most of the day. It’s cold, near zero, and the strong northerly winds blasting the snow squalls ashore are producing awesome wind chills- my weather instruments now registering minus 25 to 35. Pretty tame by my old Minnesota standards, but pretty impressive for the Keweenaw. I have no idea how much snow has found its home at the harbor since most of what I can see in the air seems to be blowing up into the hills, but a couple quick jaunts out to pound away a few logs from the now frozen woodpile resulted in snow filled boots. After a morning of almost constant chatter between plow crews battling blocked roads and pulling vehicles out of roadside clutches, the scanner is now eerily quiet – my guess they are back in the shop waiting for visibility to improve. Only fools would be out driving in these conditions, but Keweenaw folks attempting to get home from work or a few unwary winter adventure visitors might be out there. I pray they’re safe.

I’d planned to join the faithful at the Inn this evening for the Friday evening camaraderie. But, thankfully, my docs’ yanking of my car keys has removed the tempting but foolish driving option, and even I know better than attempt to hike even the short distance to the Inn’s enticing coziness in these conditions. So, some hash and eggs, a glass or two of box wine, the comfort of a blazing fireplace, and whatever entertainment I can conjure up for myself will have to suffice. (I did receive a big pile of paperbacks from our stalwart mailman today, so I’m well prepared.)

As I sit here shivering, but knowing that when I finish this brief report I can savor a warm, easily replenished meal, move to the warmth of the fireplace, backed up by a propane furnace, later crawl under the cozy electric heated comforter on my bed and smug in the knowledge that when the dawn arrives a big orange plow will be here to assure me ready access to the goods and services of town, I can not help to marvel, as I often do, at the pluck of those hardy miners and their families who endured these blizzards only a few generations ago in places like the nearby now ghost towns of Copper Falls, Central and Delaware. Isolated by the deep and lasting snow drifts of such storms in a way that we can not possibly fathom, huddled for warmth about wood stoves as the cold winds ravage their meager lodgings, subsiding on diminishing provisions shipped to the Harbor months earlier and not to be replenished until the first spring boats arrive at the Harbor docks from the Soo, and too often grieving as children and the elderly, absent available medical care, succumb to the epidemics so rampant at that time - they nonetheless persevered. Such thoughts do make me pause as I fret about not getting to the Inn.

But I’m blessed, able in this wonderful era to sit back and comfortably enjoy the long overdue arrival of real winter weather. It sharpens my senses, gets the blood stirring and raises my spirits. After all, why stick it out through the long Keweenaw winter if you aren’t able to savor a good blizzard or two?

Change (1/31/07)
Once again I’m bundled up in layered sweaters and socks to ward off the cold seeping, no blowing, through the porous walls, doors and windows of this old camp, wannabe house, as I embark on another Harbor Web chronicle of my Eagle Harbor adventure. It’s about six in the evening, the logs burning in the fireplace adding their usual friendly crackle, pleasing glow, and token warmth to the soothing melodies from my music box. The difference this late January evening is that it’s still light outside, at least light enough for me to watch the building north-westerly wind gusts dance tornado like swirls of lake effect snow across the frozen harbor’s shinny black and snow laced surface. It will be mine dark before this utterance is swallowed up in the need for sleep, the persistent clouds once again denying any chance for what the almanac says will be an almost full moon to penetrate the stark black of the arriving Keweenaw winter night, Nonetheless, the lengthening day is a sure and satisfying sign that change is at bay.

Change up here is mostly a result of the cycles in the natural environment that so blesses this place. The omnipresent big lake is the driving force. Sure, we, like where you live, witness the seasonal changes gestated by ole Sol’s annual wanderings between Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, but the trillions of gallons and the vast sweep of deep waters at our doorstep are more than a match for our celestial friend. The proud big lake resists the temporal changes encouraged by Sol in its winter and summer solstice moods, brushing off, at least deep in its bowels, the warmth of high summer sun and the cold of deep winter’s ridge hugging and mostly unseen semblance of its time in the Southern Hemisphere. The lake will, begrudgingly, at least at its surface, cater to the whims of its celestial nemesis, showing its distain in fits of summer squalls and winter gales, but it, more so than ole Sol, decides when it’s time for Keweenaw flora to cycle from bloom to fade, when fauna can safely migrate, and when those of us who live along its shores can ski or linger about our beach fires. It resists extremes, as befitting its majesty and sense of permanence and purpose, nurturing temperance in nature’s life cycles, and by its example and powerful influence, temperance in the attitudes of those of us who share its environment. Anyone who lives along its shore for any length of time will attest to the calming influence the big lake has on our lives. As a result, moderation, yes even a yearning for stability, is the modus operandi in many of our lives. Change, oh that seemingly inevitable and needed facet of life everywhere, is, of course, something we must deal with, often begrudgingly, but as long as it fits what we perceive to be the natural order of things, in tune with the paradigm of our big lake neighbor, it’s welcomed.

I wrestled with these thoughts about change after a stroll over to the township hall in the residue of a previous day’s token offering of blissfully crunchy snow to enjoy a few moments of stimulating rattle with our town’s fathers, and mommas, about their plans for the future of our little settlement. I, as apparently befitting my age and time on task, added the element of cantankerous to their otherwise civil and respectful discussion of the options we need to consider as the seemingly thousands, well perhaps only hundreds, of “Harbor wannabees” pull up their stakes back home and head for the promised land.

I, as many who have followed my journals might guess, argue for the status quo, a future not unlike the present, a community of souls, both resident and visitor, seeking the increasingly rare opportunity to be in a place where the solitude and wonder of the natural world and the joy of “cottage” neighborliness are revered, even at the expense of foregoing the conveniences of ready access to the services, including job opportunities, that we have so depended on and enjoyed in the more urban environments in our life travels. Selfish? Yes. Smugness? Perhaps. Unrealistic? Maybe, given the all too apparent urbanization forces in play and the realization that many of our new neighbors are wonderfully younger, at a different point in their lives than were many of us when we opted for the solitude and willingly accepted the inconveniences of this remote outpost on the shore of the big lake.

Perhaps, as some of our more thoughtful town crystal ball observers foresee, and apparently now suggest, we need to provide at least some opportunity for commercial and manufacturing enterprises to foster within our little hamlet. I don’t know. I’m a hard sell, stuck blissfully and probably unrealistically in a vision of Eagle Harbor that’s more reflective of my dreams than reason.

After crunching my way back to camp, contemplating en-route whether my approach to nearly four score years of maturity, and the likelihood of lurking senility, might be diminishing my capacity to comprehend and thoughtfully engage in such weighty matters, I decided to dig in the all but forgotten dusty archives of the Harbor Journal to see whether at some earlier, perhaps more enlightened, point in my life, I might have had a more balanced view about the meaning of this place and the role it might play in the lives of those fortunate enough to be a part of this experience for generations to come.

Alas, I was disappointed. What I found, a musing of several years ago, What makes Eagle Harbor so special, simply confirmed that I have always been a hopeless romantic about this place. At least I’m consistent – perhaps I was a troublesome old fogy long before a few more years along the lake might possibly excuse my eccentric attitudes and behavior as simply quaint – pleasing, at least to me, but strikingly old-fashioned.

It’s now morning; sleep blissfully having spared you any more of my evening rant. The promised last gasp January snowfall is softly draping itself over the landscape, hiding the blemishes inherent in minimal ground cover and converting the icy harbor surface into a vast unmarked snowfield. The wind is just a whimper of its nighttime bluster, pausing apparently as it awaits the next Alberta Clipper, due, the weather gurus say, this coming weekend. All is at peace for the moment, tempering any lingering residuals of last evening’s fanciful mind journey into the uncertain world of change.

The scene out my window this snowy this late January morning is reassuring. Despite the uncertainties ahead, I’m now confident that when my grandchildren and great grandchildren gaze out this window on some future January morn, they will see what I see – a beautiful little snow blanketed harbor hugging cottage town, nestled at the foot of the everlasting forested ridges, a place where the forces of the natural world still prevail and entice, a community of souls whose lives are still dominated by the rhythm of the big lake. All will be well.

So, enough of this. It’s time to get out and restack the woodpile. Yes, it’s down again. Some things never change.

Adapting (1/11/07)
(click photo to enlarge) I posted a “Looking Out my Window” photo earlier today showing the mid-morning sunrise poking its lake effect snow diffused golden face above the ridge behind Cedar Creek. A too kind Harbor Web reader commented that I “had a good eye” for beauty. Not really. I’m just a simple aim and shoot photographer, blessed by being in a place where such scenic gems are too plentiful for even the likes of me to miss. It was a beautiful sunrise, but as is our lot in the lee of the big lake the persistent mid winter cloud cover quickly took command and the rest of this day was the dreary gray so characteristic of our Januarys and Februarys. But I’m adaptable, and have developed an appreciation for the hidden nuances of gray, an appreciation we of the Keweenaw must acquire to maintain our spirit, if not our sanity, over the long dark winter. That’s probably why I have such an affinity for the old black and white pre-Technicolor movies and rebel at Ted Turner’s attempts to substitute reality for imagination. It’s like reading a good book, where an imaginative mind is capable of conjuring up what even the most expressive black on white copy can’t convey, or sometimes even intend. The same for our gray landscape and pewter hued waters – there are messages therein that an attuned and inquisitive mind can detect, decipher, and savor.

I do, however, look forward to the late winter and early spring months when the sun once again dominates the northern hemisphere and the big lake rather than the Cedar Creek ridge becomes the womb of its morning rise, flooding the harbor’s west beach and the row of cottages behind it with early morning dazzling golden brilliance. The lake will then be cooler and shed of its winter temper, less prone to stirring up cloud overcast, and the flora of the Keweenaw and those of us privileged to live among it will all blossom in the longer day of abundant sunshine. No need for imagination then – the reality will more than suffice to satisfy the soul. The nights will still be cool, but the stars forming the outlines of favorite constellations, including my guardian Orion, will once again seemingly hug the earth, shining brightly in the clear dark universe and moving slowly among the dancing northern lights. Even the babe of the southern seas and its provocateur, global warming, the curse of our uninspired winter, will be repentant, sparing us for our brief fling with boats, berries, warm beaches – and bugs.

But for now, we must adapt. I, for instance have reached an accord of sorts with the streetlight on my corner, heretofore the bane of my existence and the brunt of much of my public “pesky" complaint. The light for its part has agreed to take a snooze for about thirty seconds of each minute, allowing me to savor a few moments of blessed darkness, yet occasionally titillating me with the wonder of golden tinged lake effect snow softly filtering through its phosphorus beams. In return, I’ve agreed to temper my propensity to subject it to bad press, no longer yielding to the temptation of web site editors lacking more important things to get lathered up about. I’m unsure how long this accord will last; probably just until one of my light hugging neighbors turns us in to the township authorities who hate to pay for lights that are not behaving, or until the clouds dissipate and I realize my favorite constellations are obscured. For now, however, all is well between me and the only action in my quiet corner of Eagle Harbor.

I’m also getting out of camp, extending my romps about the harbor as my strength returns, once again relishing the wonder of untracked storm litter strewn beaches, the comforting stillness of winter locked forest, and the magic of walking about a town asleep, its spooky boarded up summer camps conjecturing up fond memories of owner families gathered around blazing shore fires, parading on the Fourth, sharing potlucks and embarking on bush treks in search of ridge top vistas, berries and hidden treasures in old mine rock piles. I listen appreciatively to the rush of winter winds through forest tops, the rhythmic hard slap of cold waters rolling up on the beaches, and the steady roar of the big lake’s endless battle with the offshore reefs. I’m treated occasionally with the dance of white tails scurrying from my intrusion, the explosive burst aloft of a spooked patridge and the hammering of woodpeckers seeking a bug lunch – perhaps in the cedar camp siding of an unsuspecting absent camp owner. I search for mammal tracks, but the absence of snow cover challenges my limited tracking skills. It’s good to be out, especially in the comfort of this temperate winter.

And, of course the long winter affords me more time in my cozy camp with its warming and comforting fire and an abundant fireside pile of books full of stories and adventures ready to transport me to experiences and times far beyond my imaginative skills. History continues to be my primary interest: just finished Six Frigates, the story of the founding of our American Navy during the War of 1812, but I’ve also become a fan of historical fiction, allowing the likes of Kenneth Roberts, Steven Pressfield and Bernard Cornwell to place me in the tragedy, terror and triumph of the French Indian War, the Greek Peloponnesian campaigns and the struggles in Britain from Stonehenge to the real King Alfred and the mythical King Arthur. Now I’m really hooked on the pure fiction, albeit in an historica context, of E.L. Doctorow, a marvelous writer you likely have cherished but I somehow missed. (I’m often chastised for my convoluted sentences – they seemingly never end – but I noted with some smug satisfaction that Doctorow's opening sentence in Billy Bathgate was nearly a page long. I know, don’t remind me, the Harbor Journal reader challenge is not just my sentance bungaling but, more significantly, my inept punctuation – sorry, I skipped school that lesson day. I dismiss all complaints with the excuse of "style", a writer's prerogative.) Nonetheless, as long as I have access to a bookstore and a good eye doc, I’ll be able to adapt to a Keweenaw winter, no matter how dreary or persistent.

So now to bed. The fire is banked, today’s book set aside, and the body aches a bit from my daily trek. Plus I’m a bit weak from fasting, getting ready for an early morning visit with a doc to see how I’m doing. Sure wish they would give me my car keys back, but that’s unlikely – anyway, I’m adapting. Such is life.

Nourishment (1/08/07)
Oh, the sweet smell of the pumpkin pie baking in my oven, coupled with the rich orchestrations occupying Richard Strauss’s so beautiful lieder (Morgan, Four Last Songs) softly teasing the tweeters and woofers of my music box, are just the right sensory adjunct for the flickering fireplace flame creeping across the gathering darkness seeping into my camp on this cold early January evening. All rich nourishment for my soul as it struggles with the lingering fatigue of my most recent surgery and the lamentations provoked by this most un-Keweenaw like winter.

As the last light of this day was swallowed by the shadows cast by the now colorless forested ridges that define the land borders of our remote harbor outpost on the shoulder of the big lake, I felt a sense of relief – spared for at least another long high latitude night from the sorry sight of snow barren landscape and the lifeless, remarkably ice free and pewter hued waters wallowing off my shoreline. Is this, the growing evidence of our abuse of Mother Nature’s graciousness, the legacy we will leave to the generations that will follow our migrations to this blessed place? Let’s hope not!

There are, of course, some offsetting benefits. Big Lake levels, testing the lows last recorded in the era of the Great Dust Bowl, are producing some expansive shoreline beaches, good news for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren building their sand castles, gathering around their moon lit beach fires on warmer summer evenings and surfing on what promises to be almost tolerable temperature waves. True, the likes of Peregrine sailors will likely put a few more notches in their boat keels as they attempt to navigate long favorite anchorages, but just think, the sailing season, now just a few months long, might become almost year around. Sure, we will lose some of our favorite boreal forest flora and fauna either through migration or extinction, but the colorful artic birds that now just pause as they head for winter habitats further south just might decide to hang around. And our “snow bird” neighbors, now denying us of their good company as they escape each winter in search of warm sand, cactus, palms and alligators, might soon find all those amenities right here at their summer abodes.

I thought of all this as I trekked around the harbor earlier today, my first such venture since my ill-advised and ill-fated jaunt to the lighthouse in early December. (Driving is no longer an option, at least for a while, as my docs have locked up my car keys.) Not a soul in sight, of course, as it always is between color and not yet arrived snow, but I enjoyed the solitude and the chance to stroll along the now vast storm littered beaches at both ends of the harbor. Eliza and Cedar creeks showed a little life, thanks to a shower a few days ago, but it was easy to jump across their meager offering to the desperately thirsty lake - well wade, I’m not much for jumping right now. A loon was fishing in the water off the east beach, a rare winter sight, probably wondering why all his buddies wasted their energy winging further south when Eagle Harbor offered such summer like hospitality. The picturesque boathouse sitting just offshore in the harbor’s northeast corner, was perched high and dry atop its almost totally exposed crib foundation, connected, for the first time in my memory, to shore with a land bridge.

I didn’t make it to the marina, running out of steam and stopping for a rest, some good conversation, some news sharing, and an energy boosting glass of sherry and fruit cake at Charlotte and daughter Tottie’s camp – our sole winter residents at the east end of the harbor. I was not surprised to find that Charlotte, now in her 90s, was ecstatic about our lame winter, as she is about all of life, as it allowed her to keep up her daily bike rides around the harbor. Needless to say, in her presence I felt a lot less burdened by my own relatively minor health deficiencies and departed for the walk back to camp with a bit more spring in my step. The blessing of wintering in the solitude of a place like Eagle Harbor, where so few stick it out through the long dark months, is that our dependence on each other's souls for mind and spirit nouishment is always so richly satisfied.

So now I’m back in camp. More than a bit tired, but wrapped in the comfort of this evening’s sensory delights and the joy of a day well spent, feeling blessed, ready to sample a freshly baked pie and looking forward to the approaching dawn – and hoping for snow!

Wanderer or Writer? (12/09/06)
Darn near did myself in a few days ago. I’d hiked up to the lighthouse into the teeth of a howling blast of lake effect snow to check that all was shipshape at the light (found a popped open old double hung weight driven window with snow busy scurrying across the kitchen floor) and to see if by chance anyone had left a few quarters in the Historical Society’s donation box. Fixed the window, sweep away the now lifeless floor snow and walked outside to cower in the shelter of the big light for a few moments to soak in the rapture of the frenzied lake smashing across the reefs below my perch. Felt a bit unstable but dismissed it as simple the effect of the buffeting wind. . Then with head low to escape the sting of the hard lake effect snow crystals and partially blinded by the blowing snow, embarked on my quest for the quarters. That was my last conscious thought. I apparently lost consciousness and staggered into a big snow bank in the lee of the old foghorn building. Don’t know how long I was compose, probably not more than a few minutes, but upon regaining consciousness I found I was on my back, half buried in waist deep snow, groggy, and because I was ill-clad for such an adventure, shivering uncontrollably.

My leg strength is about gone so my struggles to get up were in vain. Mindless thrashing about in the snow was just burying me deeper. A little panic surfaced as I thought what a mess, here I am stuck in a place not likely to be visited until the snowmobilers arrive after Christmas – a good place but not a good way to end my sojourn at Eagle Harbor. (These little black outs seem to be something I’m prone to of late. I’ll be at Marquette General on Monday to get checked out.)

Survival instincts took control and with a burst of energy from gosh knows where, probably adrenaline, I was able to crawl on my belly across the drift and over to the shallower snow near the kiosk – grasp onto the kiosk’s sturdy timbers and haul myself upright onto my wobbly legs, take a few minutes to clear my fuzzy head, and contemplate how I was going to get back to camp. Dumb me; having forgetting rule number one about always having a cell phone in my pocket when out alone in winter, the sane option of getting help was zeroed out. I sensed the first warning signs of developing hypothermia and in my weakened condition and shocky state my mind conjured up the voice of old man winter seeming to say, “I finally gottcha, you old careless transgressor of my turf.” Overly dramatic, I know, but that’s how I felt.

Needless to say, I got home, or I wouldn’t be able to share this experience with you. Don’t know how, but long time followers of these journals know I’ve been in worse situations, like falling into snow covered open mine shafts or breaking through the lake ice, so I must live a charmed life. Someone is apparently looking out for me. Equally obvious – I’m a slow learner.

Nonetheless, I was badly shaken by this experience, feeling, perhaps for the first time, that I’d been physically and psychologically tested and found wanting, something that I suppose we all will ultimately encounter as the years pile up and our zeal is not matched by our guile. I knew I’d been more lucky than strong.

It took about 24 hours; several warm showers, a bit or two of stiff medicinal scotch, and a twelve-hour snooze to physically recover from this misadventure. Equally important for my torment recovery was a surprise evening visit by my good friend and helpful neighbor, Dail, who innocently stumbled into my convalescence bringing his usual good cheer and marvelous story telling skills. I didn’t burden him with my story, a story still too fresh and troublesome to share without embarrassment, but I sensed he perceived I was in some sort of a recovery mode. We shared some good wine, a couple of yummy steaks, the warmth and soothing glow of the blazing fireplace, and our blessed comradery By late evening’s end I was back on my feet. That’s what friends are for, right?

So, depending how things go Monday in Marquette, I might become more of a writer than a wanderer. Perhaps serendipitously, I received a wonderfully affirming email on the evening of Dail’s visit from an apparently long time follower of the Harbor Web journals, telling me how much he enjoyed them and encouraging me to take up the pen more often. The journals do generate a lot of response, some affirming and some unsettling, but I’m always surprised and admittedly pleased that they provoke any response at all. After all, your Harbor Journal writer is a guy trained as an engineer and nurtured by public service and corporate career environments that frowned on adjectives and compound sentences. Where have I gone wrong!

I hesitate to share my new correspondent, Charles’ , email with you, to do so would be terribly self-serving. But he’s a gifted writer with a strong artistic bent, and it’s a beautiful written capsulation of the generous and so satisfying sentiments that many of you have taken the time to share with me. I didn’t post it on the Harbor Web, there are limits even to my abundant vanity, but as a Harbor Journal reader you might find it of interest. If so, click Love Your Writings .

So, my trial in the lighthouse snow bank, while troubling, was certainly instructive and might have a silver lining. I’ll likely always be the wanderer, that’s my nature and while potentially destructive, these Quixote like quests are the source of much personal satisfaction and certainly good journal fodder. (It’s little wonder that I spend my summers aboard a good ship named Peregrine, Latin for “wanderer.”) But who knows, if the docs say “lay low”, and in the off chance that I follow their admonition, I might derive as much satisfaction just reliving, and sharing with you, the abundance of yet untold stories banked in my memory – and/or, as Charles suggests, unleash the big lake sailing adventures now locked in the hundreds of pages in Peregrine’s log.

So what will it be, wanderer or writer? Who knows, perhaps both.

Ramblings On A Winterly Eve (12/01/06)
I’m watching golden tinged lake effect snow slowly filtering down through the phosphorous light of the abominable street light on my street corner, thinking I should be up at the Inn for the Friday evening gathering of Eagle Harbor winter diehards, but instead tucked contently in my camp relishing the serenity of a flickering fireplace and lyrical Bach cantatas oozing from my music box. A glass of a very good French white table wine left in my larder for my enjoyment by a daughter during a summer visit adds to my mellowness. Life is good!

It’s good to have some snow in the air and covering the ground. Not much, but after wallowing in the warmth and dryness of November this brush with winter is so satisfying. Yes, I’m a snow junkie, as are almost all of us who choose a winter in the Keweenaw over the lure of places where tow straps, a shovel, sand and a sleeping bag are not standard vehicle equipment. We wondered, as November raced to its close without even a trace of snow and temperatures in the balmy 50s, whether the babe of warm southern seas had once again so captivated our easily tempted snow guardian Heikki Lunta that he’d forsaken us. The jury is still out, but the last day of November arrival of single digit temperatures and the awakening of the lake effect snow machine gives us hope that all is not lost. We are easily satisfied.

The road outside my camp is covered with fluffy fresh snow, not a blemish in its pristine surface. It will likely stay that way for several days since I’m the only soul along the way and there is not enough snow to justify the plows. The kid in me says it’s time for making snow angels, or at least tromping out some happy faces. Alas, the gang I now hang around with would likely nominate me for the funny farm if I yielded to the temptation, but what the heck, one more glass of this good wine and I might give them some chuckles.

Not many lights around the harbor. Most camps are shuttered for the long winter, their summer occupants postmarking their winter taxes from places where employment is available or the niceties of a more urbane life are readily accessible. A few holiday lights are on, their reflection twinkling on the churning and cold black harbor surface, but even they will darken as the “stay till Christmas” crowd departs. The little pine I hang with lights still awaits my rouse from desire to action – and my willingness and capacity to totter dangerously atop the step ladder needed to reach its snow covered crest.

One light I don’t see is the comforting and reassuring sweep of the lighthouse beam across the dark harbor waters and along the south shore – a casualty of summer resident distain of its brightness and Coast Guard reluctance to accept the value of our historic lighthouse as more than simply an aide to navigation. So, I’m a hopeless romantic, but I ache at its loss, as I suspect do all of us who hunker in the darkness of the long Harbor winter. Its restoration is at the top of my letter to Santa.

Tomorrow is dump day, the wintertime once a week gathering of the Harbor faithful around the dumpster to catch up on the local gossip. You chuckle, but hey folks, we are not blessed with malls or other such free nodes of personal commerce so have to commune as best we can. It’s even televised, with the dump security camera broadcast on our local cable channel so if we can’t get there we can at least watch and catch up on who’s in town – something for our many “harbor wannabes” to contemplate as they wonder what one does for wintertime entertainment up here.

My fireplace fire is getting low, as is my wine ration, so it’s time to close out this winter eve rambling. Cold is also beginning to creep thorough the porous wall alongside my computer, driven by a building off lake wind that promises even more lake effect snow showers during the night. The stillness of this evening is giving way to the steady roar of lake waves cresting across the near shore reefs and the rhythmic slap of rebounding swells rolling up on the harbor beach – a nice complement to the Bach still resonating across the room.

Now for snow angels.

A Walk In The Bush (11/07/06)
I needed a walk in the bush. Heck, we all probably did after experiencing the tumult and down right meanness of much of this seemingly endless mid-term election. Actually, my Copper Country neighbors and I escaped much of this – campaigns up here are pretty civil and neither of the big political parties paid much attention to us. We are apparently too few and too predicable to garner their attention. One of the many attractions of this place.

My need for a few moments in the quiet and beauty of the bush was more driven by some building camp fever. Too much time pecking away on the computer, shuffling Historical Society paperwork, and readying the camp for the long winter. So when the big winds eased off, the temperature rose to the sweatshirt comfort zone, and a bright sun stimulated the dormant bright blues of the big lake and harbor waters and resurrected the soft browns of our abundant rock and sand and the still lush, albeit muted, reds and greens of the big forest, I donned my hiking boots for a trek in the bush. I was amply rewarded.

I chose the harbor ski trail for this little adventure. It’s a bit of a challenge for this somewhat worn body, but by resisting the temptation of off trail excursions I was reasonably comfortable as I trod along the soft trail – mostly sandy loam laden with abundant pine needles. I carried a big stick, not for warding off any bears that might take a fancy to me, but for stability. I’m a bit tottery, a new facet of my life that keeps me off Peregrine’s foredeck as much as possible.

Gosh it was quiet back there. Not a sound, not even the almost always-present mummer off the nearby big lake, its surface on this day apparently enjoying a rare day of rest between our big fall blows. I did detect a slight rustle of treetops as they were lightly stroked by a fading southwest whisper of wind, a sound more like one might sense from a far away and barely perceptible babbling brook. No croaks of ravens, craws of crows or hammering of woodpeckers interrupted my solitude. My boots trod softly and quietly through the soft sand and cushioning pine needles, with only an occasional trump of a boot as I stumbled over a protruding tree root. There is something almost surreal about an absence of sound in the bush, but on this day it was welcomed and comforting.

No critters either, big or small. The squirrels and chipmunks have apparently finished their fall harvesting and have settled in for the winter, perhaps spooked by our mid-October blizzard. I’d hoped to encounter a playful otter or two near Long Lake, one of their favorite haunts, but alas they too have apparently moved to winter quarters, probably closer to the harbor where the fishing is better. I did encounter lots of deer track, some of it fresh, but with deer hunting season fast approaching, all but those with short memories have moved into the safety of the cedar swamps. The hunters are beginning to litter their deer stands with goodies so the unwary may be tempted to move out from their safe sanctuaries, but on this day no bucks, does or Bambies crossed my path – although I’ll bet a few viewed me suspiciously from nearby cover. One big set of clawed prints caught my attention, either a wolf or big cat, but without my tracking book I was at a loss to identify its owner, and, frankly. I didn’t feel inclined to stick around to see who might show up.

But the visual senses were abundantly stroked. It was mid-afternoon by the time I got deep in the bush, the sun well on its way towards the southwester horizon, casting its slanting, soft and golden tinged light across the landscape. Long irregular shadows of tree trunks stretched across the trail with open ground areas of sandy loam and pine needles now muted in the fading light and their surface dotted with the dancing shadows of pine tops and the few remaining hardwood leaves as they were teased by the light breeze. The clear sky above, displaying the deepening blue of late day, a glorious crown on this magical scene. I wished I’d remembered to bring my camera to share this with you, but no camera, at least one in my inept hands, can truly capture this beauty – it has to be experienced.

I huffed my way to trail end, and then through our sleepy little town back to camp – body weary but with a much enriched and soothed soul. There is nothing better than a walk in the bush to remedy a bit of camp fever and counter the trials and tumult of these times. I should do it more often – perhaps you should too!

A postcript. I'd be remiss if I did not acknowledge the debt I owe, actually all of us owe, to those whose foresight and action have made it possible for me and for my children and my grandchildren and their children to foreever enjoy a walk in these woods. Much of the trail I treked is now in public ownership, set aside as a township recreation and wildlife preserve by the initiative of many of my Harbor neighbors, chief among them being our former township supervisiors Jim Boggio and Doug Sherk and the men and women who served on our township board during this process. This precious gift to future generations of Harbor residents and visitors is something that those of our generation can be justly proud of.

A Favorite Chair (11/01/06)
Do you have a favorite chair? One you sink a weary body into at the end of a busy day to reflect for a moment on the day’s events and recharge the soul? I do – a big and comfortable straight back rattan rocker that found it’s way to Eagle Harbor after perhaps a century or two traveling with my father’s family as they migrated from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, across the Blue Ridge into Kentucky and Indiana and ultimately to Illinois. It now sits next to my fireplace, facing out through the window you know as “out my window” and alongside a table laden with the books that I so enjoy. It creaks as I settle my body into it each evening, as do my bones, sharing with me the comfort and serenity of age.

I retired there this evening. The warmth of the nearby blazing fireplace soothing the chill of the cold off-lake winds seeping through the all too porous westerly walls of this old camp, and its flickering flames offsetting the darkness descending on the Keweenaw as we embark on our annual journey to approaching winter solstice. I rocked, wondering if I in my infancy I had been so rocked in the bosom of my mother, probably, and hoping that great grandchildren would be so blessed.

The scene out my window was, well let’s be honest, pretty nondescript - ridge hugging lifeless gray clouds and just the swirls of still excited wind fluttering across the now nearly pewter hued harbor water surface as our big Halloween blow moves east. But heck, this is November, the gray time between the glorious color of a Copper Country fall and the white magic of big snows. A time when those of us who choose. or are destined, to avoid the temptations of warm surf and sands, begin to hunker in, psyching ourselves to the pleasure of off-road snow bank encounters and late night excursions to the frozen woodpile. Well, we really don’t consciously think about that, if we did we would probably join the exodus. As I rocked this evening, my thoughts were of not of these winter’s challenges, but of contemporary events – like the impending election.

Let’s be realistic. The UP is not battleground country. While my rocker was still in conservative, perhaps momentarily La Follett and Teddy Roosevelt populist Indiana, folks up here were confronting the “corporate paternalism” of the mining companies. It had its benefits, as my mother’s family, my granddad was underground superintendent for C&H, pressed into my memory, but not everybody shared in the bounty of C&H’s remarkable success – as the turmoil and tragedy of the 1913 strike attests. Copper Country children, and now grandchildren, of these times still regard corporate America, where I made my living, and their political allies, mostly Republican, in deep suspicion, perhaps with cause. As a result my TV time alongside my rocker is seldom interrupted by political ads - why waste money in uncontested and sparsely settled turf. A blessing, given the scurrilous character of such ads from His Excellency’s, President George Washington’s, time to now. Instead, I rock contently and attentively alongside the political ad immune channels of Discovery and Classic Arts, gifts to old fogies like me by our neighbor Bill Jackson’s Cable America.

I do at times get a little stirred up as I gently rock through an evening of good wine, comfort food (don’t ask), and the warmth of fireside. Nonsense stuff - like the irritating streetlights, the pesky geese, too many fire trucks, the loss of our comforting lighthouse beam, private beaches, trail gates – you’ve read enough of my stuff to know what my pet peeves are. But these fleeting moments of intellectual passion, about the only kind I’m capable of anymore, soon are set aside as, for perspective, I look across the harbor at the hills that shoulder our existence. Hills that were the home of people thousands of years ago, people surely burdened with their own peeves, but who nonetheless preserved and perhaps prospered – although the realization that these ancient communities passed into oblivion does give me pause. Perhaps if they had been a bit more possessive and entrepreneurial about their discovery of our rich lodes of copper, rather than retreating to the shores of the mighty Mississippi to build their mounds, their descendents would have been our copper barons rather than those rich kids from Boston. There would be no need for casinos.

I digress, something one often does in the embrace of an old and comforting rocker.

So, perhaps you have a story about an old and comforting chair – one that evokes memories, passions, or whatever, that you would like to share with our Harbor Web community. It doesn’t need to be Copper Country related., that would be a plus, but folks who tune into this site are forgiving – a good yarn pleases us all.

Send it in!

Where's George? (10/31/06)
It’s difficult to decide how to begin this too long delayed update on the trials and titillations of my life here on the remote and rocky shore of the big lake. Surely, as so many of you have suggested in your nagging but nice “where’s George” emails over the last month, something worth sharing has stumbled into my life since my last report that the June bugs were terrible and the good ship Peregrine was whishing me off to far flung Superior anchorages. Indeed that is so, and my lame excuses for dropping out of our internet relationship notwithstanding, the provocation of another big blow about to pounce on our shared passion, the Keweenaw, a cause to celebrate and share, has awakened my still latent, but seemingly diminished, writing juices. So what’s new and, if not exciting, at least worth a few bytes on your all too patient Harbor Web connection?

Well, for starters. there is, indeed, a big storm brewing out on the lake – just the latest in what seems to be a pattern of wannabe “gales of November” that have riled the waters of the big lake since late September. This evening’s sky is laden with cloud clusters, their bottoms dark and foreboding and tops tinged a threatening orange by the setting sun, racing in from the west, defying a lingering but brisk easterly wind that will soon, so my friends at Marquette weather say, back to the west and increase to gale force, 35 knots, with gusts to storm force, over 50 knots. Our jutting into the lake Keweenaw rocky shore, always the brunt of big storms from the west and northwest, will once again experience the power and the beauty of waves fifteen to twenty feet high, as high as your house, certainly a test for the lakers still plying the lake laden with iron ore for your next car.

These storms are, in part, why I’ve been out of touch. Peregrine, at least her skipper, no match for the likes of what we are about to experience, arrived back in Eagle Harbor in late September after some 1800 miles of just terrific Superior cruising, but then was beset with the first of this late summer and early fall’s big lake storms. Lashed to the unforgiving dock wall of the Harbor marina, besieged by the surge of waves rebounding off the harbor’s hard south shore, my stout little vessel, my soul mate, heroically tugged at her lines, awaiting with her nervous skipper for a weather window that would allow safe passage to her winter roost in far away Pequaming. In early October, as the waves of one big blow settled down to less than would put the deck awash, we, along with the beautiful Vagabond, Eagle Harbor’s other big lake cruising sailboat and its skipper Mark McEvers, set sail on our annual end of season race to safe harbor – surfing along the gorgeous fall colored north shore of the Keweenaw, spending the night with pasties and good wine alongside the Lily Pond wall, and then motoring down to Keweenaw Bay and on to historic Pequaming through a simply awesome array of red maple and yellow birch lining the Portage Canal. Just in time! Our “surprise” October blizzard, accompanied by storm force winds and waves of twenty feet arrived just a few days after Peregrine was lifted out of her preferred element and perched, for the coming long nine months of life ashore, on her surely uncomfortable nest of steel.

I missed this big October storm, but savored the somewhat exaggerated Weather Service internet forecasts of its impending fury as I resided in our Minneapolis (Edina) apartment. While en route to Pequaming I learned that Carol, who has lovingly aided me in the many medical adventures I’ve encountered during our marriage, had broken a heel and badly sprained an ankle tumbling from a makeshift ladder while engaged in a bit of ill-advised home decorating. She is apparently wheel chair bound for about three months and pretty darn uncomfortable. I’m of little help to her and she has awesome coping skills, but I want to do what I can, so have been and will continue to be commuting to the Twin Cities a good deal over the coming months. I’ll squeeze in Harbor Web updates and editing as best I can. As you might guess, I’m a bit of a caged gorilla in a big city apartment.

It’s now Halloween morning and the big storm is upon us. I wanted to finish this explanation of why I’ve not been tending to our Harbor Web last evening but my weakening heart is zapping my stamina. I’m not much good for anything past mid-afternoon. But there’s nothing better than a good storm to get me going at the top of a day – and this is a corker! The barometer reversed its precipitous slide about dawn and as the back side of the low closed on the Keweenaw the wind really picked up and now, just a few hours later, my house top wind speed indicator is banging against the 50 knot mark. Needless to say the old camp is noisily complaining, but amazingly the wood pile remains upright – no doubt because I finally wised-up and turned the stacking job over to a pro. There's lots of noise as building waves pound our unforgiving shoreline. Snuck out a few minutes ago for some wave photos to share with you, but had trouble staying upright and focusing the camera in the big wind. They're OK but no photo can truly capture the awesome power and incredible beauty of the big lake when it's provoked. Lots of spray in the air and I heard myself exclaim “holy cow” more than once.

Better get this posted. There is a big stack of Historical Society financial and membership work awaiting my attention before I depart once again for the seven to eight hour trek to Mpls. The Society treasurer and membership secretary tasks, consuming about twenty hours a week, is a bit more than I bargained for but I enjoy doing it. Maybe I’m just getting slow. But first a few minutes by the cozy and crackling fire, and then perhaps a couple chapters of my current read, Dogs of God, James Reston, Jr’s saga of the turmoil in Queen Isabella's and King Ferdinand’s Spain as Columbus set off for the New World. Reston's work, including his earlier Warriors of God provides some needed perspective on our contemporary relationship with the Muslim world.

So that’s what I’m up to. All is well, but our Harbor Web might be a bit sporadic for a while. There’s lots going on in my life. Thanks for your patience. .

Return To Harbor Web

Other Editor Writings

Fall-Winter 2005 -2006 Journals
Fall-Winter 2004 -2005 Journals
Fall-Winter 2003 -2004 Journals
April & May, 2003 Journals
February & March, 2003 Journals
December 2002 - January 2003 Journals
Fall-Winter 2002 Journals
Recent Journals
Earlier Journals
Much Earlier Journals
Journals From The Last Millennium
Editor Musings