“First there was the ice; two miles high,
hundreds of miles wide and many centuries deep.”
Waiting for the Morning Train by Bruce Catton
First, the ice.
Then a roar as millions of giant first growth trees fell into lumber.
Furs, muskrats, confusion and disease for the first people.
Storms on the big lake and tales of bare-knuckled survival.
Lighthouses, floods, and the relentless immigration from northern Europe.
Now retirees learn to snowshoe, and tourists climb the dunes.
No one knows if the second and third growth trees smell as sweet in the heavy summer air.
But sometimes, when the wind is from the north and the conditions are just right, you can smell what is coming next.
Your colleagues are not your friends.
Your boss is not your family.
Even if they have been to your home.
Even if they have met your wife.
They may remember you.
For the stand you took, a battle fought.
For your authenticity.
But they aren’t going to stay in touch.
Regardless of what they say at your retirement party.
A few words exchanged with a stranger at a coffeeshop.
A dramatic storm coming across the lake.
The screaming, yipping celebration of the local coyotes.
That’s what I’ve got now.
A poem in 28 hashtags, curated from Instagram
A warm light spills out of the windows; we can hear the band faintly. The tasting room glows in the middle of a snowy field.
As we enter, we are warmly welcomed out of the cold. Our friends see us, wave us over, and my isolation is a little bit healed.
The band covers Chris Stapleton, while I get two glasses of mead from the bar. We catch up on everyone’s Christmas plans and watch the band.
They are beekeepers by day, musicians by night. They play harmonica, bass, and electric guitar, their charisma is catching. The singer is fearless and her voice is grand.
Two older women slowly gather their things and finally depart, and the guitarist calls out, “drive safe Grandma, thanks for coming.” It’s that kind of crowd.
Now the audience is singing, the room is buzzing. Everyone wears jeans and boots, and as far as I know, no one here is my second cousin.
There is magic here but it’s not of the melancholy variety. And I really don’t think it’s related to sobriety.
One last song, enjoying the ambiance. We say goodbye, then we too head out into the clear, cold moonlight.
It’s central Benzie County, on a Saturday night.
(Apologies to Tom Waits)