January 9, 2017
The north woods ring—the waters gather dripping from the tops of pines, running, running, running over ancient rocks. The veerys trill up and down the scales, the warblers chime their notes through still bare twigs and the water runs, it runs down to Lake Superior swirling downstream, plunging over waterfalls just freed from ice curtains. Curious deer come to drink from the pool below lifting their heads, standing motionless to sense the air. Is it bear? Wolf? Lynx?
Sun dapples down through bare forest trees—sun streams, the ground steams, wet leaves tilt insisting on light, thrust new spikes. Water flows through mobile root hairs, roots, stems, vaporizes into air.
Wild geese weave the wind, skid along black marsh water among tangles of cat tail. Further downstream waves curl onto a rock shore polishing stones to oval and the small stones roll chinking and chunking. They assume their flat round shapes over years of grinding, finding their ease in the wave rhythms, rolling rolling, rolling. White caps bubble foam and the jade water is a dancing goddess in the middle distance between shore and horizon.
Children arrive to pick up fossils of ancient coral and to find stones to skip on a quiet day. They chase sea gulls and try to become airborne by leaping and spreading their arms. Cormorants and sooty terns rise and cleave the air. The red cheeked kids leap in the early spring breezes, their knuckles chapped. What do they care?
The bones of whales and sailors roll in the currents—some finding their way out to sea, some becoming, becoming, becoming a diatom’s shining, becoming the bones of an emerald shiner, becoming limestone shale in the loving exchange between the living and the living. The islands of Lake Superior bear greenstones and jewel like snakes. Sturgeon and trout spawn leaving pearls and coral in the crevices of rocks. A moose stands chin deep in and island lake. The islands of Lake Superior are quiet, remote and cold, littered with bones.
Curled underground, water drawn up through squeaky pumps splashes into enamel buckets—water clear and cold and tasting of iron. The iron flows through the veins of the moose and in the red cheeked children.
Loons quiver their greetings and as twilight falls, bullfrogs groan their love songs—they bellow all night long. I lay awake listening to the water lapping the night and its creatures.
January 13, 2013
I explored the rugged coast, clear tributary trout streams, and brooding power of Lake Superior as a child and have returned to this greatest of the Great Lakes from time to time. I have picked up agates in Grand Marais and visited waterfalls on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Some of the oldest rock on this planet is on the Keweenaw Peninsula and on Isle Royale where we, my husband and I, hiked through thimbleberries higher than our heads and heard the bugling of moose, then saw one standing directly athwart the trail we followed. My husband smelled it before we saw it. And then there it was, a solid wall blocking our path. My husband has hunted since childhood and his sense of smell is acute. We thought we might see the elusive wolves, but people seldom do. On the map, Isle Royale looks like the eye in the wolf’s head shape of Lake Superior with Duluth its snout and the Keweenaw Peninsula its mouth.