After we part from the other Peter Kjenaas and his wife Rita, I am feeling hopeful. Michelle is calm, chilling and watching the green grasses and still naked winter trees as we cruise on a short drive that day, just an hour or so East to this enormous remnant of the last ice age. Lake Superior.
(If I mess up any science facts, please feel free to correct me.)
Not so long ago geologically, receding glaciers—which weighed so much that their closest friends, concerned for their health, were advising intestinal bypass—got angry and dug in their heels, thus gouging out these deep rifts which then filled with water. Most of the humans around at that time were sunning themselves on beaches near the Equator and they were concerned that there would be no ice for their martinis—not what we know of as a martini, rather a drink so powerful that it can neither be shaken nor stirred because of the certainty of deadly explosion.
But they needed ice, so as the glaciers whined their way North in a toddler-like tantrum, the people followed.
And today we have these huge freshwater lakes and it’s still cold enough for ice part of the year. There, I hope that was not mansplaining this complex science too much.
We arrive, first, at Betty’s pies and cut through a road construction project and into the lot. I head in, leaving Mo protecting Michelle who is still pretty calm, and meet Carl. I order sandwiches and a full blackberry crumb pie. (I know what just happened. Many of you stopped really reading because you WANT some of that pie. I will continue, though I am aware I no longer have your full attention.)
The place is pretty full, and I have been told that this is the norm. I explain to Carl that at least three people recommended his place, or this place, to me on Facebook when I was searching for tips and I had to come. It’s a lively atmosphere, bright, open and friendly with lots of pies.
I come back in a few moments later—I have become a bit of an expert at timing meal preparations so that I order, go back to Michelle, and then try to arrive back inside as the to-go containers hit the counter. I’m a bit late in my timing and Carl explains that they only had a half of the blackberry crumb so he’s giving me that for free and another full pie that is “fresh out of the oven” that contains rhubarb, blackberries and some other fruit—it’s not that I’ve forgotten, it’s just that he had me a rhubarb and I wasn’t, like you, really listening after that. (For those of you from locations (California) who don’t know rhubarb, along with my pity I will only that say that it looks vaguely like a botanical mating of celery and a visiting alien from another world.)
I say, “Wow!” and exit with my booty.
During small talk he has recommended a campsite just a mile or so away and I go there and it’s perfect, right on the shore of the giant, incomprehensibly thawed ice lake. We are not more than 40 feet from the choppy, windswept waters. You can barely see the far shore because the lake is narrowing towards its southern most point around Duluth.
I set up the tent and cot because it really looks like rain. Mo and I walk down to the uncaring shoreline and I ponder that thing we’ve all heard that all the water in the world is still here, circulating around, and in this vast body must certainly be the sweat of Caesar, the blood of Christ, the spit of Wild Bill and the urine of, well, everyone, every single one of us and all of us back as far as we have been, a giant recirculating system that we are a part of.
Water is life, people say. That may be so, or maybe life makes water in some way, makes water live.
Later that night, Michelle is sleeping when I hear the storm approaching. This is a storm that, at first, isn’t about wind, rather it’s about lightning in the pitch black of night, suddenly illuminating the invisible world like a flashbulb in a cave. Thunder, thunder so close that the water in my body resonates with it. Michelle sleeps through it all. Mo sits at my feet. I’m in the tent, the water pounding down, dry for now, hoping, as the winds arrive that they will not be too strong.
The next day my cousin tells me there was a tornado watch in the area we camped. Well, okay.
All is well, and wet. A small stream has entered the tent unnoticed and pretty much soaks everything on the ground. My old felt hat rejects the water and remains dry.
Water everywhere within and without.