As I start this entry, it is around 2 hours and a few minutes shy of my 19th anniversary of arriving here to live. There are moments in my life and I am sure in everyone’s life that we will just never forget. Some good, some not so good, but they were dramatic and important enough to be permanently embedded in our memory bank. I cannot remember every second of that day, but I remember loading the final pieces of my belongings after finishing my morning work. I remember driving a 26 foot U-haul truck full of my belongings, with Baileys riding shotgun and following us in the chase car my Dad and Burt.
The main things I remember about the drive up was the feeling of exaltation and a bit of fear. The fear was not that I was leaving all of my family and friends behind and heading off to a land where I barely knew a soul. It was that something would happen to cause me to have to pack my belongings and head back south some day. So far so good!
I also remember pulling off to the side of the exit ramp for Hwy 8 just outside of Tomahawk and stopping to make sure all was well with my Dad and Burt. There are a number of other details that remain from the trip up, but for some reason, that stop on the side of the ramp sticks out extra far and I still cannot go past it without thinking of that moment.
We arrived in Houghton, pulled up to the title company right on time, closed on the Lake Linden house purchase, took possession of the keys and headed up HWY 26 to my new home. I hardly remember emptying the truck. If my Dad were here, I am sure he could fill me in on all the details! Poor guy, I really put him to work that evening. That 26 footer was packed from floor to ceiling from front to back. Even the space above the cab was packed tight! We got the last of my items into the house or garage and then collapsed while waiting for a pizza to be delivered from the Loading Zone II.
The other thing about my first 24 hours of living up here that sticks out like it just happened yesterday was when I went to let Burt and Baileys out to go potty in the morning. It was still pretty early, around 7 or so. Things were very quiet inside the house and out. It was a chilly morning, but nothing too unusual for the Keweenaw in mid-May. I opened the door that led from the garage to the backyard, let the pups out and followed them. The first breath of air I took once outside was filled with the smell of pines. Not a slight or muted scent, but an all enveloping smell, as if I was in the middle of the woods camping. It put a huge smile on my face and the only thought that entered into my mind was that I was going to be able to smell that same smell EVERY DAY! Not just when I got away from the big city and took a walk with the pups in the woods. Or when we made trips up here… Every blessed day.
The following days, weeks, months and years all have their moments that still remain in my mind and I hope they always will. I am not going to worry about what I remember and what I don’t, because the future holds lots more memories to be made. 19 years! Sheesh, it does not seem like that long at all. I have lived in this area longer than anywhere else I have lived in my entire life and that includes the house I grew up in!
Not this day, but in two days, it will be the 7th anniversary of my second open heart surgery. Many of the memories from this period of my life are not the most joyous, but I do remember getting very stir crazy, waiting for the surgery to happen and for Nora and Gracie to arrive. I spent 3 1/2 days in the hospital all by myself. I was not sick or bed ridden, that is what caused me to get so stir crazy. I remember looking out the window in my room, watching folks come and go from the building, or just walk down the sidewalk in front of the hospital. I wondered how many of them were appreciative of their good health. To be able to come and go and lead a typical day. I doubt any. I am not picking on them at all. We are all guilty of that, some less than others, but it is human nature to take things for granted. I did not do anything dramatic like make a promise to the maker that if I made it through the surgery I would never take my good health for granted. That kind of stuff I will leave to the movies. However, since that surgery, I have remembered that moment 100’s, if not 1000’s of times and I do my best to remember that I am now part of the lucky ones going about their daily duties in good health. I do take a moment to appreciate it. It really helps me to be at peace with what ever situation I am currently in. I am not sure if that is the only “gift” I was given for having to go through the second surgery, but it was a wonderful gift and I sure have made good use of it!
So fast forward 19 years, or 7 years, or however long it takes for you to arrive in present day. It’s a beautiful day in the Keweenaw. 71 degrees, perhaps headed for 74. We hit 71 yesterday and look to hit it a couple more times in the next 5-7 days. The playground has been freed from its snowy entrapment, but the ground is not totally free from snow just yet, as you could see in that last shot. I really thought I was going to have to wait until June for the snow to leave the spot that the pool goes on. However, it has been freed from its snow and is ready to go. It is still a few weeks early to be putting the pool up, but I think it will go up earlier this season, as we will be heating it with a heater that is actually purposely built to heat pools! This will allow me to set the temperature I want and not have to fiddle with turning it on or off. It will also be placed right next to the pool, so I will not have to worry about heat loss as the water travels from the pool to the heater and back. Speaking of which, I have not decided upon a heater yet and would love to hear from anyone that can recommend a make and model. It needs to be able to run on propane. Feel free to let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Nora, Gracie and I got more yard work done since I last wrote. The front of the house is moving closer and closer to full summer mode. All the raised beds for the garden are ready for their plants. The seeds the girls started a week or so ago have sprouted and look like they will be ready to go into the ground in a week or two. Nora has purchased some of the flowers she plants around the house and they will likely be going into their planters in another week or so. We still have the risk of a freeze at this time of the year, but by the 19th or 20th, if it looks like the next 7-10 days have no chance at a freeze/frost, then they will get planted.
There is still snow hanging on in other areas as well, although it is getting very hard to find snow remaining that was put there by natural forces. One such pile of snow is the infamous Laurium Glacier. It is still hanging on and I have a picture of it to prove it. In fact, I have what I believe is the first panoramic view of the Laurium Glacier. It is actually around 150 feet long, until the last vestiges of it melt, then it shrinks down to a dozen feet or so. Based on the amount of snow there, I would say that it has around 2 weeks left before its waters travel to the Torch Lake and then off into Lake Superior, only to have some of those water molecules return to the very same spot next winter.
Parts of the Rockies have had a dandy of a winter, so much so, that it still looks like winter in some spots. That was Brooks Lake Lodge, out near Togwotee in WY. The picture is from this past Saturday morning. Most of those areas saw 3-6″ of fresh snow fall over the weekend, with some 1-3 foot totals in the Wind River Range just to the south. As much as I love snow, I will give a “No Thank You” to that type of situation. I will be ready for it come October!
That just about gets you caught up on things this way. Gracie is busy finishing up the last few weeks of school. They get out the first week of June. It is amazing to watch her grow and mature. It seems like the past 6 months or so have seen her grow both physically and emotionally more than any other 6 months of her life so far. Adolescence is still a few years off, but sure seems to be approaching quicker than at any other time. She is now cooking and baking all on her own and is still trying to out maneuver Nora and I in the ways of life, but so far we have been able to maintain the upper hand. No promises on how much longer that will last. Thankfully she has a beautiful and smart Mom and has been very well guided in her life so far.
Today was the end of the year music program for her classroom. This is the 4th such program of hers we have been to since she started kindergarten. It is always fun and entertaining to go to these programs and is also fun to watch them perform more complex songs with each passing year. She has her end of season piano recital this Saturday and is planning on singing while she plays “Oh Danny Boy”. I am planning to shed a tear or two.
Good night from the Keweenaw..