Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Waters of August

 I'm heading west (or mid-west) over popcorn skies to spend some quality time on the shores of 
Gitche Gumee.  Or Kitchi Gami.  Or Kitchi Gummi,
an old haunt of the Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) Indians.

Lake Michigan is a span of cerulean blue,
whereas two small lakes in Minneapolis are less than limpid pods...
Too bad cities can't get their you-know-what together and clean up
their lakes.  Lawns are one of the major culprits:  green grass = green lakes. 

It's not just city lakes that are contaminated - even the most isolated Minnesota lakes are 
polluted with things like
 swine antibiotics, cocaine, personal care products, DEET, estrogen,
antidepressents, plastics, and much, much more - Wow!  What a nasty soup! - as reported in a recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

When they don't kill them outright, these contaminants are turning the fish into freaks.

Here's another view over Minneapolis, but it could be any city, USA.  
Big box heaven! 

Ahhh.  In the distance, the Shining Big Sea Water.
Frank and I are escaping to one of the cleanest lakes left in the world, although it, too, has issues.
We fly over the web of rivers and estuaries connected to Lake Superior, a superior lake in all ways.
In the distance (top of photo) is the barrier island (actually a peninsula) where we will be staying.

First glimpse of the big lake in the distance...
...first glimpse from our picture window!

Frank in the "back yard" of our Park Point rental house.

Duluth in the distance...

Clear water!  And cold!

I am compelled to go in the water to make the experience real, 
even though it's icy cold.  
Well, 57 degrees F.

Which is pretty cold.

Sherry and Brett wimp out with wet suits.

The weekend weather is awesome for Duluth, sunny and warm.
You never know about August here.  It can be rainy and in the 40's, 
even in the era of global warming.

Shannon and Michael enjoy the beach.

Jennifer lounges in the beach shelter that was kindly built for us
by mysterious folk.

Jennifer, Ali, Shannon and Michael, respectively.


Duluth laid out like a sparkling necklace on the cliffs and lake...

Shannon and Michael trek up the dune path.

Andrew builds his usual frabjous castle on the beach.

I build something similar in the kitchen.

Other foodstuffs we enjoy are this cake, made by Brett with real pumpkins and
decorated by Ali.

We're celebrating the future birth of the new boy baby, scheduled for November 7th!!!!
Or thereabouts.

Shirley gazes fondly at the happy couple - the 'Dorables.

Andrew gets a new hairdo.

We see strange things on the beach:

It seems that monoliths are all the rage,
so we put up one of our own.

Ali has has so much fun, she must rest.

Before they leave, Jennifer braves the icy waters!
She is a Superior girl!

While in Duluth, we go to Shirley's 70th High School Reunion lunch which is coincidentally happening this week at the posh Kitchi Gammi Club.

(internet photo)

This is the school Shirley went to, Duluth Central, which opened in 1893.
It now houses only administrative offices.

A pile of dog shit (at least we think it's dog shit) on our beach
bums us out, but we just move the log and we're good to go.

We go for a walk in the wooded part of Park Point, a protected preserve...

...where a magical tree-knome...

...protects us from the field of poison ivy.

 The time comes to leave our little bit of Paradise, 
but first we get a visit from old friends Clyde and JoAnn Narhi.
who live on Barker's Island where Shirley and Gordie used to live.

We bid a last goodbye to the shining big sea water...

...before visiting Forest Hill cemetery, where my brother Mark,
father Gordie and aunt Helen are buried...

...to check on the pruning job done by our wonderful new friend Brad
who is the grounds-man.

Last glimpse of the Aerial Bridge...

...and the vast taconite piles.  Taconite is the raw form of iron, 
which has long been a big export of the northern Minnesota area.

We then go to a reunion at my cousin Gail's country house, where Shirley, 
sadly, is one of the last of her generation.

 (photo by Greg Vokovan)

 ...but a new generation arises, here represented by the Kelly family.
Jennifer is my cousin Barry's daughter and her children are Beela and Shepard.
 Shepard has been (so far successfully) fighting cancer for most of his short life. 
They recently had a fundraiser to help support "CureSearch"  
which is working to fight children's cancer.


The Wilkinson clan!  Here I am with (clockwise) Dan, Angie, Brett, Sherry,
Shirley and Angie and Dan's grandchild, Brooklyn.

 (photo by Greg Vokovan)

Cousins galore!
We do a "blood relatives" pic:
 Me, Dan, Sherry, Doris Bawcom, Chuck Bawcom, Bill Vokovan, Amy (Bogenholm) Nash, Barry Bawcom, Greg Vokovan, Gail Vokovan.

 (photo by Greg Vokovan)
Thanks to Gail for making this occasion possible!

 Dan and I go kayaking on the Apple River.

I follow his wake the whole way as he speeds ahead, and
finally find him in the reeds taking a texting break.

I also do my annual visit to Paul and Judy Helgeson at Winding Road Farm...

...where Paul looks over his amazing prairie planting.
 (I'm not going to indulge in the obvious annoying pun,
that he's out standing in his field.  That would be beneath me.)

The Winding Road garden is exquisite and abundant!

Judy picks flowers while I pick beans.

This place only grows more beautiful.

On our way to their Menomonie house, we pass by the turkey "farms"near Wheeler, Wisconsin,
where thousands of birds are cooped up, biding their time before the big
Thanksgiving day slaughter.

Two still lives:  one in the country (on the Winding Road porch); one in the city
(in their  kitchen window in Menomonie).

Back in New Richmond, 
we go out on the town to Brady's Bar to see the Sun Mountain Band
with the amazing Fiddler, Dick Solberg.

Solberg is a great friend of my cousin Barry Bawcom (right) - they were in Vietnam together.

The band is great, playing a mix of Beatles, Van Morrison, classic "Americana" with down-home fiddlin' and Solberg's own eclectic compositions - here's a little clip of "Remember Me":

Steppin' out in downtown New Richmond with Sherry, Dan and my cousin Gail Vokovan.
Looking fabulous, people!!!!

Angie and Dan entertain Angie's brother and girlfriend.

The cousins!

Back at Shirley's, Judy's flowers grace her coffee table.

Sadly, we must bid adieu to Shirley, leaving her at her Deerfield door.
She and I had a wonderful time together, watching HGTV, old movies,
playing cards and working out in the exercise room!
Note my brother Dan's sculpture on the wall to her right.
Here is another one at Sherry's house, nibbled on by the squirrels who collaborate
with Dan to make his sculptures even more awesome.

Another one is on S&B's front wall.

And yet another one is stuffed into my suitcase to come back to Brooklyn!

Sherry and Brett, moving on after the sad death of Moe, have a new kitty named Pi.
I make a video of his adventure with the blue balloon...

...which he watches avidly later on my computer screen.

And once again, I'm on the road.  Or "in the sky."

 Here is the great Lake Michigan, revisited.
If you look closely at the bottom of the blue expanse,
you'll see two "lakers" looking awfully tiny,
yet they are possibly as big as this one, the William J. McCarthy, 1000 feet long, 
seen back in Duluth.

Over Lake Erie, I notice a disturbing greenish swirl in the water...

...so I do some research and find this article from 2011.
The red rectangle notes approximately where I took my picture.

Microcystis is the most prevalent form of toxic algae, often referred to as harmful algal blooms. It has the same toxin, microcystin, that killed 75 people inside a Brazilian hospital in the mid 1990s, prompting a team of experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate.


Back over NYC, the Hudson below the Verrazano Bridge is looking a bit murky.
Better than it used to be, but not exactly drinkable.

I must be back in New York, because this young man at LaGuardia look like the coolest person ever.

Big city of stone and steel overlooking a smaller city of headstones, 
a visual metaphor if there ever was one.

And while it's not over water, my Brooklyn window still shows me a pretty awesome sunrise.

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