Thursday, July 25, 2013


Fishing with friends on Intigram

Best to spend time wasting time

Back in May I was going to write about how a single sunny day is so significant to the Northwoods' spring. At the intersection of shoveling sidewalks and mowing lawns, the sun popped out for a few glorious days to make the transition complete once again this year.

People came out of their houses in droves. Like wild herds freely roaming the city parks and sidewalks. Folks actually stopped to talk to each other outside the gas stations and on the street. The baseball, softball, soccer, and track teams could all finally practice on the fields, and in one fell swoop, spontaneous life was returned to our northern society.

I was able to spend one of those afternoons outside with two great friends of mine. As has become a sort of miniature tradition of ours, we grabbed a baseball and a few mitts and walked down to the little league field in town. We also brought a pocket-sized portable radio and a big bag of sunflower seeds. The radio was used to listen to the Brewers' game (there was hope back then), and the seeds were for spitting - you know, because we're tough guys.

Baseball caps, sunglasses, tennis shoes, and shorts - just a few red-blooded American boys...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Growing pains

   The sky in all its innumerable possibilities,
endless transitions,
and boundless freedoms,
The next logical stepis the limit. 

The next logical step

I am not cut out for a lot of things. I am not good at following orders without question, I do not like cramped spaces, and I loathe entirely the thought of wearing khakis. I would make a terrible soldier, a worse miner, and an awful accountant.

That's quite the spectrum of professions at which I'd be poor.

I am not good at being a cog in a machine that I do not understand, and I have this nasty habit of questioning authority, old regimes, and the status quo. I want to know why something must be - why are we not doing things another way? How long do we beat a dead horse? I want to wrap my brain around answering why something is happening, and the best way for me to do that is to literally engage in what it is I want to change or learn about.

This line of thinking (and acting) has led me to my fair share of dead ends, scuffles, and ended relationships. When I hit those dead ends, it's usually quite painful, to say the least. The end of something you thought you wanted feels an awful lot like failing - in the moment at least. The end feels like failing, that is, until you've gotten the chance to move onto something else, and find what you're looking for there.

Let's get concrete here...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer sun

Billowing cumulonimbus clouds stack
up in the heat of the summer atmosphere.

Absolute, incandescent joy

The heavy summer air tugs and twines cumulonimbus like some airy substance between toffy and cotton candy at a carnival. The shapes of foamy condensation billow and swell, while wisps of atmosphere push them across a field of blue. All the while, the piercing rays of a hot summer sun poke through weak spots in the sky caravans, filtering yellow into white into orange into pink.

In the green-grass field below stands a maple in paradise. In its golden years, the big tree has grown tall and wide, with thick, strong limbs for children to climb on, and deep green leaves to shade lovers' picnics and farmers' perspiring brows. Its roots run as deep as its branches reach high, and are as hardy and stoic as their trunk is round.

The stream nearby feeds maple full of cold, clean water. In spring it overflows its banks to make room for bright green grass, but in the heat of summer it has returned to a steady level, leaving rocks half exposed and washing wood into nothing. Cool and steaming in the waking morning, fishermen test their fly rods at the bounty below. Glistening and glinting in the afternoon sun, families take solace in the calm, cool current.

Downstream, the water disperses some of its gift into a vast, muddy bog. A haven for insects and invertebrates, it also fosters the life of amphibians and birds. Red-winged Blackbirds have built their nests on cattails, and raised their young on the superabundance of bugs. In the mornings and evenings they call to each other in trilling cries to form a chorus with bullfrogs. At dusk they sleep, and let the bats descend upon the feeding grounds.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Ol' Murray

My mobile memory machine

I have a secret thinking spot - atop my Murray 12 horsepower, 38" lawnmower. The creaky old gal from Ohio still starts up without a fuss (most days, kinda). She has a tendency to shudder when you engage the blade, and shifting is anything but smooth, but for whatever reason, she helps to clear my head.

I tell people all the time how I enjoy spending time doing simple manual labor. I sit too much and think critically too hard all day and it gets exhausting. At the end of the workday I like to have something to sweat in the sun too. It's nice to have a task that doesn't require me to do much thinking, just plain old doing; let my mind wonder.

At home there's about an acre of lawn to mow, and in the heat of summer it needs to be done almost twice a week. In fact my brothers and I will actually have fights over whose turn it is to mow the lawn (redneck much?). Bo will insist that he's always getting to it, that he's saving it for later when he's bored and needs something to fill his time with. Jed, on the other hand, will try to get the jump by doing something ridiculous. Like running out there to cut the lawn in the morning before the grass is even dry - crazy right?! And me, well I just play the big brother card and ban them from using my stuff if they don't let me do it.

Oh, and don't even get me started on my sister operating a bladed vehicle…the poor little maple in the front yard has died more than it's fair share of deaths, Chelsea...