I want to start this post thinking about the awesome weekend I just had with my wife (although given my propensity for garrulous rumination I’m sure it will transform in to something else). Friday started well, like many Fridays do, with donuts and haikus. Three this week, one about waking Sara from a sound sleep by loudly unleashing bean-related intestinal consequences, a second about trying to make sense out of a shotgun pattern of data, and the third was a plea for a dog sitter. I hoped to find a kind soul to sit for Rio while Sara and I went to the Lake on Saturday night.
The Lake is a lovely resort on Upper Eau Claire Lake, which does not allow dogs, but has been Sara’s parents’ home away from home for quite some time (29+ years).
Luckily someone volunteered to watch Rio (thanks Missy!). After returning home I decided it was time for Frisbee to return to Rio’s life after a long hiatus during the cold winter of Duluth. We don’t have an immediate home park, like we used to, but we made due with the Lake Walk/Leif Ericson park which is a few blocks away. Rio is an excellent catcher of Frisbee’s and didn’t miss one during our session. What we did learn was that Rio has gotten as out of shape as I am (despite her losing weight) during our time off/winter. After about 15 sprints after the Frisbee she was done and laid on the ground chewing on them as a statement of that fact. Next time I’ll bring a bit of water to help revive her, but ultimately we just need more exercise. The rest of Friday night was spent in the basement among my fishing equipment “getting things ready”. Honestly, I might like preparing for fishing and looking at all the shiny lures more than the actual fishing, plus I’ve got a lot of equipment to look at. Sara, wondering where I had disappeared to, called my phone as I was ascending the stairs hands full of gear. With so much gear for just an overnight trip to the lake I often wonder how we will get it together once we’ve got the baby and all the accoutrement that goes along with our upcoming bundle of joy.
So Saturday morning came, and after dropping Rio off, I returned home and we loaded up the Rambler and hit the road to the Lake. It is a short trip, and in almost no time we were hanging out by the lake, enjoying the sun and the warm weather. That morning Duluth (by the big Lake) had been in the low 50s, but inland and at the Lake it was in the low 80’s, almost my perfect weather. We got some stuff unloaded and were hanging out chatting with Sara’s parents and extended family. We broke out the kayaks from their winter storage slumber and despite the 55°F water temperature, I paddle out and around a little bit. There was a great dinner and after dinner I was invited to go fishing, so I grabbed my rod and jumped in the boat. I should have looked at which rod I was bringing, because I was loaded for bear and we were fishing for squirrels (much smaller game). Really what I had was a heavier braided line and a stiffer rod (yep I giggled when I wrote that) that made casting a very light jig a bit problematic. That didn’t mean I didn’t catch fish, particularly since I was given some sort of magic lure by Sara’s dad Tom, and taken to a magic fishing hole by her cousin Trigg (whose boat I was in). I was out fished by both them, but I still managed to boat a couple of decent size crappies. All in all, we bagged about a dozen eating size fish (which Tom cleaned and sent home with Sara and I THANK YOU TOM LEE! –which we enjoyed on Monday night). Sara played cards with the ladies and I hung around sharing stories and listening. Then to bed, on some surprisingly comfortable air mattresses.
Sunday morning sun shone into the camper where I was sleeping, starting about 5AM. I fought it off till about 630 when I got up and headed into the sun to enjoy some reading and lounging. I got to read my book for a few hours in the quiet sunrise of the Lake, with only the only real noise coming from the loon and the swift who was furiously gathering nesting materials from the area right by my feet. As the sun rose higher, I switched to the hammock for some more reading and light napping. At this point Sara’s folks had gotten up and had suggested that a pancake breakfast was being served in town a few miles away. While Sara would have liked to have slept for a few more hours, my pang for pancakes forced me to wake her up gently, and within a half an hour we were off to pancakes. They were delicious, thick and fluffy with good sausage accompaniment. After too many pancakes we headed back to the lake. I was thinking about wasting the rest of the day in my hammock, but the water beckoned. Mac and Heather, Brophy (Sara’s brother, sister-in-law, and nephew) and I set out in a little kayak convoy just to get our feet wet and our arms stretched out. We paddled south along the lake shore for quite a while before we turned around. Then back to more reading. A total delight. Later in the afternoon, Mac and I went out fishing in our kayaks. We paddled back to the magical fishing spot (which is called Devil’s Lake). There despite the wind pushing my kayak around, I was able to catch and land my fish couple of fish from a kayak, a small (14in) northern pike and a couple of few crappie. Mac also caught some crappie, but our lack of a stringer made catch-and-release the order of the day. Then after dinner we headed home to pick up Rio and watch a movie. All in all over those two days I was able to kick my winter blues (I think) by sitting in the sun and being on the water. Even sunny days in winter are no good because none of that magnanimous light touches our skin. I truly believe that deep down I am solar powered and semi-aquatic, because having light and water in my life is always better.
The Quiet Celebration
Monday was a holiday and the morning found me again sitting in the sun, this time on my porch overlooking Lake Superior. The big Lake still had a large amount of ice floating in it. So much so I keep thinking I’m going to see a sad polar bear walking among the melting icebergs. But the 80° day did much to reduce the ice and buoy my spirits. Sitting on the porch that morning I was itching a few bug bites from our Lake weekend. Sitting there I absently scratched my head, as I often do. While for many of you the act of head scratching might feel good and help you think inquisitive thoughts, for me, every time I touch my head, I am reminded of my life altering brain surgeries. And this sunny Monday morning those thoughts brought a reminder: that on this day, May 26th 1989 I underwent my first surgery to remove cavernous hemangioma. That morning on the porch was 25 years to the day that my then 14 year old self identity was forever altered (it occurred again when I was 22). They were life altering but not necessarily in the way you think. Yes, they hurt and were a trauma, but they were not traumatic, in that they did not cause me despair (OK some despair) and I wasn’t physically, mentally, or emotionally ruined. Both times they sent my life on a different trajectory, a trajectory that has brought me to the place and person I am. I have lived life. Whomever said “live like you are dying” was full of shit. Yes, seize the day and live in the moment, but remember that tomorrow the sun rises and the seasons change and summer will arrive. So I took a long moment to think between brain surgeries and baby, between life and wife, between love and loss, between hope and happiness. My 14 year old self could not contemplate this future that I’ve constructed, neither could my 22 year old self, or perhaps even at 30 or 38. Yet hear I sit, enjoying the sun, reading a book. I do not lament, I celebrate 25 years. Would I do it again, no. But then if my some magic you got to redo any part of your life, how boring would it be if you made the same choices, instead take the tangent, divergent path. In the end, I returned to sitting in the sun, reading a book, occasionally looking up to watch the big blue water for a moment, dog at my feet, cats in the window, wife and future daughter sleeping soundly in the next room. Pretty good way to end a long weekend.