A View From the Field
Journal June 2001
Gosh, two days in a row! What's going to happen!
Well, a couple of things. I went to town today, and a comfortable chair to sit in here at the computer should arrive tomorrow. That will be nice. I've decided that, while I love living here in my splendid isolation, I wouldn't want to live either in downtown Copper Harbor or in Houghton/Hancock. Maybe all the sunshine has soured my eyes, or something.
For one thing, if it's warm, it will be hot in Houghton, and pretty warm in Copper Harbor, too. In Copper Harbor it's all the blacktop, and the lack of trees, which causes the sunshine to just soak in - frequently, when it's foggy in the mornings, when I drive into town, steam is rising from the road because it has already absorbed so much warmth. Houghton and Hancock are just too far from the wonderful heat sink (or cool sink) of Superior.
Actually, it was warmest around 1:00, and I forgot to look at the thermometer to see just how hot, since I was on my way between Office Max and WalMart. When I got through with lunch, about 3:00, it was only 80º, and there was a nice breeze.
I worked up a sweat loading the car at the supermarket, and of course, it was an oven inside, but between the air conditioner and the open windows, it cooled down pretty fast. It's very humid, and so any exertion I put out causes me to sweat profusely.
I realized as I was driving along the covered road (the Scenic Route part of US41) that I had never before driven it with the windows open. The smell of the woods on a warm, humid and sunny afternoon is just overpowering. I wish I could bottle it and sell it as a room freshener, and blow it through my heating system all winter. It isn't all pine, or balsam - it's a mixture of pine, balsam, cedar, humus and other things I can't name. I'd thought I've lost a lot of my senses of smell and taste since the chemo, and I think I have, but I can still smell that, and I could breath it all the time. What a delight! Besides, I got around the last slowpoke going in my direction and I could take the curves at my own pace.
The other thing that prompted this entry is that I Emailed Charlie Hopper, the administrator of PastyNet, the dandelion picture, and he was kind enough to add it to yesterday's PastyCam Cam Notes, with a link to this site. I've gotten a couple of very nice Emails. Any author, in any medium, likes complements, and apparently my ramblings and my pictures appeal to some people. It's enough to inspire me to go running out and take a lot more pictures. The only trouble with that is that the house will never get completely settled. (So? If I can stand it, who cares?)
I did take the camera with me this time, but I didn't stop to take any pictures. It always interests me what a difference 45 miles down the peninsula makes in the seasons. The early meadow rue is just beginning to blossom here, but it is fully out down between Calumet and Hancock. The bladder campions are out in force down there, as well as the daisies and buttercups. In one swampy area north of Mohawk, I saw some wild iris. I also saw the little mounds of yellow flowers that have so intrigued me in past years along M28 from Seney eastward. Sometime I'm just going to have to stop and find out what they are. They aren't dandelions.
I will definitely be taking pictures of all the wildflowers that bloom around here. While I would stop along the Cliff Drive to take pictures, I am just a little shy of stopping on US41 between Calumet and Houghton and having all those people see me bent double over some weed.
The lupines are fully in bloom right now, where ever people live or have lived. It's really tempting to drive down toward Baraga and see if I can find the fields of lupines, as well as the abandoned farm fields that get so covered with daisies they look like it's snowed. Apparently I am supposed to get my porch screened in this week (sometime), but after that happens, I may just do that. I've always wanted to take pictures of those things, but I find it really hard to stop when I'm on the road between Copper Harbor and Detroit and I really want to get where I'm going.
When I left this morning, it was foggy and about 52º, downright chilly, but it is now somewhere in the low 70's, hazy over the harbor, and nearly calm, just like it was last night. That calm, which starts with the wind beginning to die around 3 pm, is my real indication that it is indeed summer at last. That calm doesn't happen in spring or fall.
Right now, there are clouds in the western sky, and the sunset doesn't look like it's going to be much, again just like last night. However, I watched the moon set this morning, and I saw Arcturus dropping down in the west, so it was clear for a while, before it got totally fogged in.
There were freighters out in the lake this morning, because I could hear their foghorns. It interests me that, with all the electronics they must have on board these days, they still sound their foghorns. I'm not sure what good it does - surely it must be hard to determine the direction of the other ship, even when you can hear its horn! Maybe they do it to warn off any crazy amateurs who might be out blundering around. Anyway, even though they must be miles offshore, it's amazing how loud those horns are. I don't think I would care to be on one of those ships when they start sounding the horn. Reminds me of staying at Grand Marais (MI)...but that's another story!
A ray of sunshine just poked through, so maybe we will have a sunset after all.
I think I will go and watch it from the comfort of my bed.
Hard to believe June is almost over, except for the weather. After a couple of beautiful days, yesterday was summer - the kind of summer I came up here to get away from! According to the car thermometer, the temperature was 92º when I went to get the mail (oh, the mail! Don't get me started on that!). All that kept it from being totally unbearable was the 20-25 mile an hour wind out of the south. I have most of the windows open in the house, and my feeling that if there is a breeze I'll catch it seems to be true. All night long I had a real gale blowing down the hall to my room. That, the ceiling fans, and the temperature dropping to about 70º overnight meant I was able to sleep.
Today started out to be more of the same, but the wind was dropping, and during the afternoon it backed more westerly, which gives me more of a sweep off the water, and it wasn't half bad.
Now, however, it's perfectly calm and about 65º, thanks again to the big, cold lake. The ceiling fans keep the air moving inside, and it's not bad.
The cats don't seem to like the wind. They went away and hid this morning and I didn't see Buster until it began to die down.
Our clear skies have started to turn cloudy, and I guess there is a chance for thunderstorms for the rest of the week. Summer with a vengeance. This was not what I came up here for! I hope it's just a glitch and the rest of the summer will be more to my liking...especially since I seem to have lost my shorts and my swim suits. I have a couple more boxes to open, but that's it, and I can't find them. Weird.
Speaking of weird glitches, I have discovered that somehow the website http://copperharbormi.com has been pointing to this site for about a week. A case of not enough information to the ISP, but I hope it didn't confuse anybody too much. I do not claim to represent Copper Harbor in any way, shape or form, and I don't want anybody to have that impression. This site was meant to be my own personal expression and nothing more. It should be corrected soon.
Well, it's cloudy, hazy and dead calm outside with a sort of pinkish tinge to everything because of the setting sun, so it's time for me to set too...
The first day of summer started with a short but violent thundershower, a morning of rain, and it ended like this. There was a loon about 100 feet off the beach, but I couldn't get a picture of him. What a lovely evening!
Today is cloudless and sunny, a bit cool, with a bit of wind from the NNW, but gorgeous just the same, and it looks like this kind of weather will last a few days.
Part of the reason for this entry is to show you last evening, and part is because I wanted to roll up all the recent pictures into the gallery. There's not much going on.
After I wrote the above, I decided to take advantage of the lovely weather and try to take a few more pictures. The results are all on one page. I am particularly happy about the pale corydalis. It seems to be very difficult to get the camera to focus down to small things. I will have to reread the instructions and see if there's a trick to it.
As I finish this entry - and an afternoon's worth of fiddling with the site - the purely blue sky of this morning has been covered by a thin layer of haze which is not dimming the sun at all. The temperature is still around 60º or less, but the breeze is light and it's a lovely day to be outside. There are still bugs - ordinary flies and mosquitoes mostly, I think - but the bugs are always there.
How fortunate I am to be living here!
After I uploaded this, I remembered some things I forgot to say, of course. The first is that Sunday night - Monday morning was perfectly clear, and I got to see it because I've been staying up late reading. And I saw the Northern Lights for the first time this year. They weren't spectacular, but there was definitely something there, and I could see it out of my bedroom windows. There was probably a lot of stuff to the north that I missed, but there was a definite cloud-like structure in the north-northwest that went away a couple of hours later.
So did the stars, eventually, and yesterday was cloudy and spitting rain, but not particularly cold. Last night, I went to bed late again (it's a good book), and around 1:00, there was a short but violent thunderstorm - or lightening storm, I should say. There was lots of lightening, but not much thunder, a short, heavy burst of rain and hail.
Sometime after that (I'm not sure when, but at least by 4:00) the wind picked up to gale force (40-60mph, I'm sure), and the noise was so loud I didn't get much sleep for the rest of the night. The wind was coming from nearly due west, and my bedroom end sticks out right in its path with no trees or anything to break its force.
I thought you might be interested in the view I got when I opened my eyes. Actually, it was prettier earlier, because the harbor was blue, but, frankly, my first act upon opening my eyes is not to reach for the camera! This was taken about 9:45. I took another one, but it has a lot of reflection from the window and I decided not to use it.
It was actually quite warm (over 70º). I went out later to dump a cat pan and see what the gas man had done (he had braced the hoses from the tanks so they won't disconnect again, we hope), and it was very nice behind the house until I got into the wind. Even at my considerable heft, I was being pushed around by the gale. Small person warnings were out for sure.
The wind has been abating slowly all day, and while there are still whitecaps on the harbor now, it is much calmer than it was earlier.
After I went for the mail, I decided it was nice enough out to take a short walk and try to get some pictures of some of the wildflowers I have been driving by for the past week. I used up the entire flash card in the camera (16 mb - a small one) and exhausted the batteries, but I'm still having trouble with the focus on my close up shots.
Here's what I got: as I started down the road, I passed some thimbleberries and took a second picture. I will try to get some more when the berries ripen (although I don't guarantee I'll find the same sprigs!) There are also patches of forget-me-nots all along Lighthouse Road. Each flower is less than ¼ inch wide, which means taking a picture of an entire patch would be hard. They always fascinate me, because every sprig seems to have one pink flower. Besides, they're blue. I hope I can transplant a few into my garden, when I have a garden.
On the way down the hill, I tried something I've always wanted to do. I took a picture of the seed head of a dandelion. It didn't turn out badly, considering that I didn't pay enough attention to the background. The seed heads have always fascinated me. There is also a plant called goatsbeard that blooms a little later that has an even more spectacular seed head, and I will try to shoot that when it comes out. Oh, my, I have so many pictures to take!
At the corner where the road to the Lake Lilly subdivision splits off, I found something I can't remember what it is. It's a vine, and I think it is some kind of vetch or pea, but although I've identified it before, I can't find it now. Oh, dear.
When I got down into the low area around Lake Lilly, I took some shots of the Canada anemones (one and two). For some reason, I've always liked these flowers - they look so clean against their green foliage.
The roadside is pretty down there, so I took a picture of the buttercups and another of a patch of anemones. I notice that the road looks a lot smoother than it is. It's time for some work to be done. While I was in the area, I took the little path from the road and took a picture of Lake Lilly. It is a pretty little lake, and this is where the loons nest, but I don't think I would want to live on it.
Coming back up the hill, I found a patch of cow vetch and a butterfly gorging itself. I imagine the nectar in the vetch is particularly sweet right now because they've only been out for about a week. A little further up the hill, I found a patch of wild roses.
All the time I was walking, I would occasionally get a deep breath of lilac and rose and something else sweet that I can't identify. It was delightful.
As I write this, it is still clear and windy, but the wind is abating somewhat. The sun is shining full on the trees across the bay. I have to ignore the book and go to bed early tonight, both because I am really tired and because there will be workmen here at 8:00 in the morning, and I don't want them to find me still in bed.
What a place!
The past week has been interesting. DC is already quite acclimated to the new location, but I don't know about Buster. He apparently will not go down into the basement, especially at night, so I have had to put a temporary litter pan in the bathroom. He did go downstairs the other evening with us, and he saw the pans. I hope he will get the idea without my having to get firm. At least he is eating, which I don't think he did for a couple of days. Like I say, interesting.
The weather has been interesting, too. Most of last week was pretty clear, and in other parts of Keweenaw, it got quite warm. It's been uniformly about 60º here at Rainbow's End and we've had a lot of fog. The weekend was beautiful, clear and nice, and today it is cloudy and rainy again. I guess it will clear up later in the week.
The bugs are here, in force. While I was unloading the car from my Thursday trip to town, I got several black fly bites, so I have been staying in, and I fetched the bug shirt up from the basement so I could go out yesterday and try to take some pictures.
My Thursday trip to town turned out to be another one of those all-day marathons, but it was fruitful. K-Mart had most everything I needed, including a nice little table and two comfortable chairs for the porch, when the porch gets screened in (and if it warms up). Econo Foods is a very nice, very large supermarket where I was able to stock my cupboards quite adequately. The layout is a little strange, but by going down practically every aisle I was able to find almost everything. I noticed that they have almost as good a selection of the kitties' favorite foods as I can get in Detroit. That eased my mind.
The car was packed when I got back to the Harbor, and of course, I had to unload all that stuff. It took me several days to move it from just inside the door.
At the beginning of the week, I did get outside to take a picture of the chokecherries. The lilacs were also in full bloom. I had always been taught that the spent flowers should be cut off, but here they have been left to go to seed, and as a result, there are dozens of little lilac bushes growing on my property. I guess it depends upon what kind of garden you have. I think this is wonderful and I will encourage them. I only hope there is enough soil to keep them alive.
While I was otherwise engaged, the late spring flowers have been fading and the early summer flowers starting to bloom. I saw early buttercups all the way north, and they are now in bloom here. The daisies are coming out, but it doesn't look like I will have any here this year. There are anemones down in the Lake Lilly swamp, and the wild roses are coming into bloom. There is also a pale corydalis growing through the stones north of the house, but I couldn't get a good picture of it, partly because I have a hard time seeing the LCD screen of the camera in the bright sun. I will try again. It is an interesting little flower.
Not very many of my pictures turned out good enough to keep. I am going to have to keep practicing with the camera - it seems every time I want to take some close-ups, I've forgotten how to set it for that. I'm also thinking about trying to either use a piece of black cloth or some kind of shade so I can see the screen better. It also isn't very easy to see the screen through the bug shirt. I'll keep trying.
Sorry for the long lapse in the journal, but I was flying low for the past week. I will try to catch up.
When I left Copper Harbor on Sunday morning, it was 40º and raining. It rained almost all the way to Marquette, and it was cloudy all the way to Grayling. Actually, I prefer to drive when it's cloudy. I don't get the road mirages in M28 that I do when the sun is out, and it's easier to see to pass.
I stopped at Birch Run on Monday morning (of course!) and got a lot of things I needed. Monday was sunny, and I got home around 3pm. The kitties were overjoyed to see me and very clingy.
Tuesday, after I shopped for food, I saw the doctor. He had a terrible cold and should have been home in bed rather than seeing a lot of people with compromised immune systems. He said I am fine. He wants to see me in a month, which happens to fall on July 3, so we compromised and I will see him on July 9. No way am I driving further than Houghton during 4th of July week!
Wednesday, I picked up the globe for my bedroom ceiling fan, and got a lot of drawer organizers and other things.
When I got home and saw the pile of stuff I wanted to bring back, I realized there was no way I was going to get the cat cage, all the cat paraphernalia, and all that stuff in the car. Slowly I am beginning to learn how much the car will hold (not nearly enough). So I got four boxes from one of the local shipping stores. I went through the clothes carefully and decided there was a lot of stuff that I either won't need or can get later if I do - fall things and dressier things I'm sure I won't wear. I packed up the rest of the clothes and most of the stuff I bought at Birch Run and Organized Living. Shipping it wasn't cheap, but I couldn't figure any other way to do it. It should arrive Monday or Tuesday.
I spent the rest of Thursday packing up the stuff I wanted to take. After a lot of waffling, I decided the best way to get the cats in the car was to put the cage in the car, put the cats in a carrier one by one and dump them into the cage. That way I was able to almost completely pack car on Thursday afternoon.
Of course, I was totally stressed out about the trip, so I had 3 JD's and a sleeping pill and crashed about 8pm.
Getting to bed so early meant I woke up early Friday, and all I had to pack was the cooler and close up my train case and overnight bag.
Getting the cats in the car was exciting, but nobody escaped. I put them in before I put the last stuff in the car - I filled up all the nooks and crannies, including the front seat. There were still a few things left over for the next trip. I goofed when I went back and took much more embroidery stuff than I could possibly need, which meant I had to waste spaced on it coming back. I won't do that again.
We pulled out of the driveway at 7:30. We were not happy to be moving. Buster hollered for the first hour we were on the road, with DC chiming in every so often. Finally DC got tired and I think went to sleep. It took Buster a while longer to conk out. Then for several hours, about every hour, he would wake up and holler a bit just to let me know he did not like what was going on. After a while, though, I guess he got the idea that I wasn't going to do anything about it, and he was pretty quiet until we got onto Lighthouse Road, which is rough.
Fortunately, the weather was good - beautiful, in fact - and traffic was very light. I did have to drive all the way from Canyon Falls to the Baraga county line behind a truck hauling a steam shovel, but otherwise not even the road work held me up much. It was very congested around the I-696 - I-75 interchange in Detroit, of course, but at that hour of the morning, traffic moves pretty well.
We arrived at Rainbow's End at 6:15. That's 10 hours and 45 minutes, and I doubt it's possible to drive it much faster. I opened the doors while I unloaded the car, and DC was saying "want out" every time he saw me.
When I went in the house, I discovered that all the doors were unlocked (I had locked up thoroughly), there were two bundles of boards in the middle of my living room, and the alarm on the septic system was going off. Arrggh!
Phoebe was kind enough to help me get the cage out of the car. It is really too heavy, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that in the long run. I was right about the litter pan and the water dish, though - both got used.
When we got the cage in the house, I opened the door and DC immediately tiptoed out and scooted under the couch. When I left for dinner, Buster was sitting all hunched up, in the cage, with his back to the door. When I got back, I think they were both under the couch.
DC came out while I was checking my email, and he went to bed with me. He was really puzzled by the stall shower. Buster arrived on the scene sometime later, and I really didn't get much sleep because he kept wanting me to pet him or something.
Finally, I got to sleep. I was awakened by the septic alarm going off again. It apparently works, but the electrician turned off all the power to the house and that apparently screwed something up. The plumber will have to come next week. The noise evidently spooked everybody, and I didn't see anybody until just now when I sat down at the computer. DC came out. I don't know where Buster is.
They know where the trays are, because somebody had walked through two of them, but they haven't eaten much yet. I will just let them work into it slowly. DC has been moved around a little, but the only time Buster ever went to a new house was when he was 7 weeks old. This is all new to them and they aren't sure they like it. DC does like to walk on the counters in the office and look out the windows, so I think things will be all right. I need to get some more comfortable places for them to sit and lie, too. Everything is hard and woody around here, except for my bed and the furniture in the living room.
When I woke up this morning, it was raining, but that stopped, and it began to clear up. When I got out of the bathroom, the Harbor was fogged in, but now that has gone away, too, and it's sunny and breezy. Not too warm, but that's good for the bugs. The bugs are incredible. Since it's so cool, mostly I have seen mosquitoes, and there are just clouds of them. It's safer to keep your mouth closed. I shall have to get the bug shirt upstairs this afternoon!
While the cats were waiting in the car, I saw several black flies light on Buster's head! I don't think they got through his fur, but I'd heard they prefer dark colors. Guess so.
Well, we are here. I'm hoping we settle in before I have to leave for Detroit again (that will freak them out!) The place is just as much of a mess as it was when I left - or more so because of the stuff I brought back with me. I won't lack for anything to do.
What I really want to do is put on the bug shirt and go out and take some pictures of the lilacs and what I think are chokecherries that are blooming on the north side of the house. It's good to be here. I still love it.
It's foggy and rainy and cold, and there are breakers on the rocks across from the channel into the harbor, and for the first time since I've been here, the lake is speaking. I can hear it through the windows, and if it wasn't so nasty outside, I'd be on my way over to Pebble Beach to see it. I don't want to go.
I packed up the embroidery this morning (I started the ninth bird the other morning) and partly packed my clothes and train case. I wanted to upload this entry early, then move the web back to the laptop before I pack that up. I don't want to go.
I think I mentioned that before I got here, I began to wonder if having a house, and all that that implies, would spoil my love affair with Keweenaw. Nope. No change. Or maybe it's better now, since I can look forward to not having to leave for months at a time (God, and the doctors, willing). Not even the little frustrations with the house (a three page list of little stuff that isn't done yet) can dampen my delight with the whole thing. It doesn't even feel new and different. It's like this is where I should have been all along.
I don't think I will mind too much going back to Champine for the winter and enjoying the luxury of only being a couple of miles from any store or service I should care to visit - and the luxury of having my trash picked up at the door! On the other hand, this wouldn't be the place I love so well if it were so close to town.
I am somewhat stressed out about what to take with me, whether the doctor will want to see me frequently (which would, frankly, completely change my plans), just doing the drive home, and especially driving back with the cats. Contemplating that 600 mile drive always gets me keyed up, although doing it isn't nearly so bad as thinking about it. I'll be all right when I get on the road.
I don't want to go.
Well, to continue with a lost day... I should be doing something around here, either packing or unpacking, but instead I am fiddling around with the computer (so what else is new?)
After three beautiful, sunny days it has been raining since sometime last night, and it is cold and dreary, so I won't talk about that.
I went to town Tuesday, and I am going to have to get in the habit of always carrying the digital camera with me. It was such a beautiful day, and along the way, especially on the Cliff Drive cutoff, there were almost fields of marsh marigolds, and where people had once lived, there were apple trees in bloom. It is definitely warmer away from the lake, and I also passed fields of lilacs that were starting to bloom. What a delight it must be to stand in those fields when it's warm and smell the lilacs - if you can stand the bugs!
Tuesday and Wednesday it was cool enough here that the bugs weren't a problem, but yesterday it was warmer, and what breeze there was came from the south - and ugh! Buggy! The dragonflies are out in full force, though, and the birds, not that they can make such a dent in the bugs. It's not only black flies - there are all sorts of other flying and creeping things around. I was wondering what the orange spots on my socks were, and it seems they are where I squashed a little orange spider that had crawled into my shoe. If you don't like bugs, this is no place for you now! Fortunately, they will abate somewhat as the season continues.
There have been some other sights. Evidently there are two nesting pairs of geese - the ones that hang out at the east end and another pair, with four goslings, that stay more toward the town end. I saw them the other night from Harbor Haus, then I saw the pair with two again yesterday, far enough out in the water to be sure there weren't more. The goslings are still tiny - just a handful - and when they swim, they are so close together you have to look hard to see two. The group of four are really funny - three of them stick together, close by mom (or dad?) and sort of ahead of the pack, then there is one loner who is always bringing up the rear.
I've also seen two or three loons fishing right off the beach at Harbor Haus, and several times I've heard their beautiful (?) song.
I saw the eagle again the other morning, flying so purposefully that I think it roosts around the south side of Lake Lilly.
The hummingbirds are here, and I am going to have to be sure I get a feeder. There was one flying around my deck this morning, looking like it was looking for food. I shall have to provide. Of course, the catalog that had shepherd's crooks that clamp to the deck railings last year don't seem to have them this year, but I'll have to see if I can find some. I probably will hang feeders in the trees, but it's harder to see them there than on the deck railings.
I am settling in, getting used to the kitchen. I will have to rearrange things some when I come back, since where I put the toaster oven and coffee pot are not very handy. It is still a mess around here, but slowly things are coming together. I am hoping to get the slipcovers on the sofa and chair today (if I ever get out of this chair!). The replacement lamp came, so except for the bags of clothes on the floor and long-term stuff like dressers, seat cushions and reupholstering, the bedroom is working. I won't bother too much about the bathroom until I get back, because I haven't unpacked my toiletries or underwear.
It's slow, but it's coming.
Last updated 08/04/11 08:45 PM