Storm Approaches


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Winter Storm Approaches

The Week's Weather 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)

The Week Of November 9th



Today's Weather Journal Report By Sue Adams (Houghton)

We had a beautiful snow storm late last night and this morning. When I got up at 3 A.M. everything was white. I looked out of the front window and saw a steady snow falling ever so gently to the ground. This morning when I got out of bed all of the trees were laden with snow. The pine trees with snow on their branches were weighted down. The view was picture perfect. All of the birds were trying to find the ground feeder on the patio. The juncos were sliding through the snow and the chickadees were joining in the fun. The woodpecker was at his post on the suet feeder. My two Siamese cats were all hunched down watching from the safe confines of the family room. A wood fire felt real good and a hot cup of Darjeeling tea. I went about morning chores and then walked a half block to work. The snow crunched under my boots and the sun came out and brightened everything. Some of my foreign students had never seen snow before and were out playing in it.


The Keweenaw is gorgeous....all decked out in winter white. Looks like about a foot of fresh snow. My drive up from Milwaukee was snowless until I encountered winter in the high country along US 141 north of Crystal Falls. A pretty good lake effect snow dusting from there to Chassell. Once in the Copper Country, however, scoops, snowblowers and plows, not brooms, were at work clearing away the deeper snow Sue described in her Monday report. The roads north of Houghton were snowpacked and slick...several vehicles in roadside ditches and a bad two car accident near the airport. I crawled along at about 30 mph, cautiously making the annual adjustment to winter driving. As the road snaked down from Kearsarge, the view out over Ahmeek and the spine of ridges beyond was vintage Keweenaw early winter....deep green forests laced in white, smothered in ominous looking snow clouds rolling in off the lake. Intermittment snow showers accompanied me along the drive from Eagle River. Only a few car tracks in what appeared to be a yet unplowed road through the snow laden pinery. Hardly any wind, but the lake at Sand Bay looked dark, angry, if struggling with its rapid cooling. I drove into Eagle Harbor at seemed deserted. Nothing moving, nobody in sight. The only sound was that of cold surf slapping on the beach, a heavier sound than that of the warmer surf of summer. I pulled up to the cottage. Abby jumped out and rolled happily in the snow. I was tempted to join felt so good to be home.


A quiet Eagle Harbor day. A brief walk in crusty snow through the village. Almost everything closed up for the long winter. Some board up windows and doors, most do not. Not sure I understand the rational for boarding up. Perhaps to protect glass from ice kicked up by the plows, or maybe just to protect fading of inside fabrics and wall finishes from the intense winter "white light". Certainly the camps near or in the woods need to protect from prowling bears in early spring. No deer in sight...they seem to know the gun hunting season is only a couple days away. A few hunters about, pickup trucks loaded with gear for deer camps and fruit and vegetables to seed their stands. The opening of deer season is a BIG deal in the Copper Country. Almost every business closes on opening day and meager staffs are the norm for the entire two week season. You just expect it and adjust accordingly. Unless you are hunting, the next few weeks are not a good time for walks in the woods, or even driving through wooded areas. The township water pump house back beyond Eliza has its walls lined with lead sheets to protect the equipment inside from gunshot damage!


I awake at 1 am with a now familiar ache and tightness in my chest. I lie in bed, staring out into the winter darkness thinking this cannot be what I think it is....I'm only a few days from my last visit to Marquette General. I take my three nitro pills and wait it out. No relief. Still reluctant to accept the obvious, I nonetheless get dressed and pack my "emergency kit" (medical records, meds, contact lens case [hospitals never have these]. insurance information. family contact lists, etc). Harbor living means that you are at least 35 minutes from emergency medical assistance and the trip up the hill to Keweenaw Memorial on a winter night can be harrowing. You are also at least three or four hours from full cardiac care. By 2 am I realize I've waited long enough, perhaps too long, and I debate whether to call someone for a ride or take off on my own. I decide to drive myself up, justifying what is probably a dumb decision on the basis that I can get there at least 10 to 15 minutes quicker. I call the hospital enroute and the nurses are at the emergency door when I arrive. The on-call doctor is on his way. I've made it once again, and after tests confirm another cardiac event, I'm loaded with nitro and morphine and sent off to Marquette General via ambulance.


I was apparently in a pretty fuzzy state during the two hour ride to Marquette. I first realize where I am when the much too familiar sights and sounds of the caterization lab invade my senses. Probes are snaked through my arterties into the heart searching for for the cause of this latest event. I watch the hot dyes explode into images on the video screen. My now trained eye quickly spots the blank space in an artery. No dye image means no's completely blocked. (I later learned that the blockage occurred at a location that only a month ago had mild stenosis, less than 30%. My doc says I have "very aggressive" hereditary, non-cholesterol, coronary disease kidding!) A long discussion we just fix the new problem with angioplasty (balloon) or attempt to head off expected further blockages by implanting by-passes in this and all likely trouble spots (it would take six by-passes)? The risk with the by-pass option is that given my propensity for stenosis, a life threatening blockage might occur outside the areas by-passed...then we have a hell of a mess. They throw the final decision in my lap. I'm tempted to try and end this frustrating almost monthly trek to Marquette and go for the big fix. I then remember my last double by-pass (1984). It took months to fully recover. Carol arrives from Minneapolis and her clear head and loving presence helps me in the decision. I opt for the immediate fix, hoping that I can beat the odds and avoid further trouble. If not, we can do the by-passes later. My docs concur. The ballon is inserted, but doesn't hold. The docs switch to a stainless steel stent, my works.


I spend a restless morning in my hospital room watching snow squalls move off the lake into the Marquette area. I feel like Gulliver in the bonds of the Lilliptians....tied to earth with IVs in both arms, heart monitor leads all over my chest, a blood pressure cup restraining my arm, a five pound bag of sand on my groin wound (from the catherization probe entry point), and an irritating oxygen lead in my nose (which I keep removing, much to the annoyance of my wonderful nurses). Three days of this is enough, so I keep talking about how good I feel, and much to my surprise and delight, they let me go. I think the fact that it was the opening day of deer season was a factor. (This IS the Copper Country.) I hitch a ride back to WalMart in Houghton with a guy transporting a dialysis patient. It snows for much of the trip, but I sleep soundly in the back seat. Good friends and VERY good neighbors Bruce and Jeane Olson meet me at WalMart and get me back to the Harbor. It's been quite a week!

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