Monday, June 14, 2021

Life between the Lakes, Part 54


I have come to the universal conclusion that too often in our lives, it is worry that holds us back. At 55, life flies past me so fast it is hard to notice a lot of things outside of my immediate environment and I will admit that it is by choice. I have accepted things I once resisted. With this new realization I went on an unscripted adventure from Deer Park.

I drove my Jeep down a two-track, invisible to my GPS, until a grove of trees brought an end to the non-existent road I was on. I got out and started walking. I wanted to find a place where I could sit and think about nothing.

As I walked, it didn’t take long before I had a crown of black flies around my head. I was on land that I became unsure about it as my feet sank deeper into the ground, so I rerouted my course. It wasn’t long before a strong south wind made its way through the forest and cleared out the flies. My journey reached an end when I found a body of water.

It was too big to be a pond but too small to be a lake. There was no confirmation of it on any map I’ve seen so I now call it my “Secret Lake” and will never divulge its whereabouts, even if bribed with pizza.

I would have removed my boots and waded into the water to soothe my feet but, as with every body of water I encounter, I have a fear of losing the bottom, or finding it.

I set out on a quest to think about nothing but ended up thinking about everything and this is what I have determined:

So much of life is noise, most of it of our own making. And much of modern humanity worries what will happen if they take a risk to see for themselves where the noise stops.

The Upper Peninsula has been a place for me to plum the thoughts and ideas that I have always wanted to explore. Moving here was a raw leap of faith moment for me. And finding pieces of God’s surprises and his revealing secrets are a bonus.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Life between the Lakes, Part 53, Nostalgia edition


The hot spell in Deer Park has seemingly come to an end. After a couple of weeks of unseasonably high temps in the 70s and several days in the mid-80s, today it was much cooler. Late in the afternoon a thick fog rolled in from Lake Superior covering Muskallonge Lake. It took on the appearance of the snow squalls we had all winter. Throughout the evening I heard many rumbles of thunder but nothing cracked the sky.

This reminded me of something that happened when I was a kid.

One July morning in the mid-1970’s my Dad and I went fishing after hearty breakfast of crispy bacon and flapjacks, likely washed down with a cup of TANG. The sky was overcast, there was a layer of fog that was thickening and the lake was dead calm.

We departed in the 12 foot Alumicraft powered by Dad’s 5 horsepower Sea King motor. We settled in a favorite spot near the middle of the lake and soon, the thickest fog I’ve ever seen invaded like layers of liquid cotton. With the fish biting so well, were in no hurry to get back to the cabin.

Our visibility was poor but we kept hauling them in; pike, perch and more pike, and when it came time to head back to the cabin, we weren’t exactly sure which direction to head because we had been drifting for so long.

My Dad started the motor and with a beautifully bruised aromatic puff of the gas/oil mix we were off.

He carefully navigated us through the fog but we had lost all sense of where we were in relation to the cabin. He kept the motor at a slow speed as we steered toward what we knew would eventually be a shoreline.

The worst case scenario was, even if we were turned around, all we would have to do was follow the shoreline back to the cabin, even if it meant going the long way around the lake. We literally could not see more than twenty feet in front of is and naturally, I wondered if we had enough gas. My concern was prevalent but after talking to Dad I was reassured that we would be fine.  

That was enough for me.

With his assurances I felt better but still had an uneasy feeling not knowing where we were or how much gas we actually had. After about twenty minutes in low gear, he cut the motor and let us glide. He stood up. We heard voices in the distance. Maybe there were other fisherman out there just like us who were lost as well? My Dad turned the direction of our gliding Alumicraft toward the noise as we drifted in silence.

First, there was a murmur of voices and then we heard music. It was unmistakably the great John Phillip Sousa, Stars and Stripes Forever; a tune I knew all too well as if was often used to roust us out of bed in the morning.

My family had carried the old Brunswick Victrola down to the lake and placed it at the end of the dock as a sound beacon to guide us home.

To the best of my knowledge, that precise event has never been duplicated in American history, though I am sure there have been variations on a theme. I share this memory because there will come a day when memories like this will be forgotten and I will be gone.

That day (God willing) should not be soon, as I feel like I still have a few good stories to tell.

Life between the Lakes, Part 52



A day after seeing the hummingbird moth I wrote about earlier in the week, this lovely creature showed up as one of nature's surprises. She is a Luna moth. I use the pronoun “she” because these creatures are so beautiful and have a fascinating story. In the arrangement of nature, they are not particularly rare but to actually see one is quite uncommon. The reason for this is because a Luna moth live less than a week.

They grow from larvae as a caterpillar and eat foliage but when they become moths they do not eat, which accounts for their short lifespan. Basically they breed at night, lay their eggs and then die; thus posing the unanswerable question, which is this: Is their purpose to reproduce or to be admired for their rarity? Or is it to exist in covert obscurity?

Along with the hummingbird moths from last week, the woods have been alive with dragonflies and butterflies. I’ve seen painted ladies and western tiger swallowtails (no pussycat swallowtails, as they are tropical and still being chased by Lord Beasley) Anyone?  🙂

There are approximately 17,500 species of butterflies in the world but only less than a thousand of those are found in the United States and only about 50 in Michigan. I have become re-fascinated with them this spring. As with the dragon flies, the butterflies are not shy about catching a ride on my shoulder without asking as I walk the dogs.

We’ve had an early summer in Deer Park. But don’t be fooled, it can get hot up here too. Today it was 87 but the strong south wind coming across the lake has kept us comfortable. What we do need, however is rain. We’ve had no more than a five minute shower all spring, so the road is getting dusty. On the other hand, with a dry, early spring the mosquitos haven’t made their unwelcome presence known. I’m fine with that and I presume my family will be fine with it as well when they arrive in 27 days. . .but is anyone reading these posts and counting besides me?

With so many birds and animals in the forest that I see, I wonder where it is they go to die? The short life of a Luna moth just adds to this mystery.

God gives us free tickets for our earthly carnival ride and we are only here for a moment to enjoy it. Earth contains far more life than death and more living species than we will never know or see. And, to paraphrase the great Jim Harrison, it grins at us with its huge galactic smile as God keeps the biggest surprise for last.