this new way of living suits me..Lake Vermilion revisited this morning

This quiet life suits me, in fact, it comes naturally to me.

This was my childhood on Lake Vermilion.

No supervision and no playmates, whole days, whole weeks, whole months stretching out before me.

My family would all drive up for Memorial Day weekend, from Chicago to Tower, MN.

We'd get the cabin ready for summer.

Before I was school age, my mother and I would stay all the way from Memorial Day to Labor Day and my big brother and Dad would drive back and forth for school and work.

My brother had summer activities in Chicago and didn't come up that often.

Once I was school age, I would go back to finish classes and be back for the whole summer the day after school got out.

My mother was an only child of Scandinavian parents.

They owned the costume shop for the Chicago Opera and designed and rented out costumes.

My grandmother had studied clothing design at the Art Institute in Chicago after high school.

My grandfather was much older and she was his second wife, he was fifty when my mother was born and she was twenty-five.

My grandfather was the first person to build and fly an airplane *an aeroplane* over the city of Chicago.

The first time that anyone in Chicago ever looked up and saw a person flying across the sky it was John Sandell.

He was an engineer by education and profession, but when he married his beautiful second wife he was semi-retired and bought her the costume shop.

They had my mother, their only child, and they doted on her and dressed her up in fabulous clothes that my grandmother made for her.

They were friends with the opera singers and when the opera was out for the summer they invited the singers up on the old black train that still sits in Tower, Minnesota as a relic of a bygone era.

They came out to the cabin by mail boat from Tower because there was no road all the way out to the cabin on Birch Point.

The Swedish opera singers and my grandparents would dress up in the costumes that came up from Chicago in big steamer trunks, they put on those costumes and stand around having cocktails in the knee high white daisies with the white birches crowded all around them, in air so clean it twinkled, at the shore of water so cold and clear it hurt to look at it even in July.

This is what I was born into.

This is my mental legacy.

Time to sing.

Time to create.

Time to paddle all day in a canoe.

Time to lay on the wooden boards of a hand hewn dock jutting out over the icy clear water, in mid July, the dock spider as big as your hand sunning himself on the boards a foot away from your shoulder, the Northern Pike and Walleye swimming past under the dock, black leaches a foot long like snakes, swimming.

Muskies in the deep waters, so enormous, as mysterious as the Loch Ness Monster.

Crayfish, small and tender clawed, pushing at the tiny pebbles of their underworld beneath the shade of the dock, seen through the cracks where the sun could not reach.

Ducks of all types, I knowing all their proper names, but also knowing which mother had how many ducklings and whether any had disappeared, eaten by fish or birds of prey.

A plastic bag of bread-ends for me, for them.

And every possible songbird in the trees, bright yellow goldfinches, my very favorites.

What I wouldn't give.

This right now is the closest I've been to that pristine silence, that exquisite privacy.

I relish the walks along the Mississippi River, each morning, with my new companion Tobi, who is learning to be a great dog.

We see the Coyote, we hear the Pileated Woodpecker.

We see the trickling of the Springtime waters coming from my beloved North Country homeland.

Minneapolis isn't Lake Vermilion.

And Lake Vermilion now has massive boats, massive houses, my Grandfather's own cabin turned into a replica of itself on steroids by people who would never have wanted to be there in the old days when there was less entertainment and nothing to save you if you made a grave error.

In this strange time when I can't get through by phone to the Home Service Plus people at the energy company about the furnace, can't get through to the bank by phone about my inability to pay, can't get through to the IRS about my change in employment circumstances....

in this strange time when I have to take good care of my asthma myself because the hospital may not be able to intubate me if I went to them for help.....

I am reminded of my beautiful past and I am grateful and I'm reverent.

I have my God and I have my health, so far.

And Mother Nature may yet prevail, God Bless Her.

 

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