Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mysterious North Shore?

First of all, Happy Halloween! 
We're not sure whether we were seeing murders of crows or unkindnesses of ravens during our drive up Highway 61. The ability, actually, lack thereof, to distinguish between crows and ravens is one of our major shortcomings. Traveling north of Duluth, we kept seeing flock after flock of either crows or ravens heading inland from the narrow strip of land between the road and the lake. We apologize for the lack of pictures. If there were a storm coming, this might have made more sense (we're sure it made sense to the birds). As it was, it turned into one more of North Shore's Mysteries.

photo of Superior shore at Cascade River
Superior shore at Cascade River       © harrington

Another North Shore Mystery has to do with geology, high bedrock in particular, and the affinity of tamaracks for swamps and bogs, and how it is that they find lots of swamps and bogs since there's some much bedrock near the surface. Presumably, God or the devil is in the details again. Speaking of the devil in the details, we each had a cold when we left and when we returned; the weather was cloudy all three days; the Grand Portage historic site was closed; peak leaf color was well passed; and we didn't see or hear any wolves. Did we have a good time? You bet. The company was great; food was really good; the folks were friendly; the Grand Portage state park was fascinating; we got some really good photos; we visited the North House Folk School (it's been a long time since I've wanted to go to school but they've got me hooked); we didn't have a schedule or definite itinerary; it was a wonderful change of pace and, it had been too long since just the two of us got away by ourselves. Did I mention the great company?

photo of North Shore tamaracks
North Shore tamaracks       © harrington

In honor of Halloween, Minnesota's North Shore, loons, lakes and poets, let's forego the obvious Edgar Allen Poe poem and take a look at

Ravens Hiding in a Shoe

By Robert Bly 
There is something men and women living in houses
Don’t understand. The old alchemists standing
Near their stoves hinted at it a thousand times.

Ravens at night hide in an old woman’s shoe.
A four-year-old speaks some ancient language.
We have lived our own death a thousand times.

Each sentence we speak to friends means the opposite
As well. Each time we say, “I trust in God,” it means
God has already abandoned us a thousand times.

Mothers again and again have knelt in church
In wartime asking God to protect their sons,
And their prayers were refused a thousand times.

The baby loon follows the mother’s sleek
Body for months. By the end of summer, she
Has dipped her head into Rainy Lake a thousand times.

Robert, you’ve wasted so much of your life
Sitting indoors to write poems. Would you
Do that again? I would, a thousand times.

Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections (sometimes with ravens) served here daily.