Home for the Summer: July 24Summer seems to be having a problem getting off and running this year.
By: Jan Kent, Lake County News Chronicle
Summer seems to be having a problem getting off and running this year. It’s been more like spring (although I haven’t heard many good things about spring on the North Shore either) with the exception of the weekend of Grandma’s Marathon when it was hot and humid and the first aid tents were filled with over-heated runners.
The same is true of Home for the Summer. It’s a late starter, but here it is.
From time to time every winter I wish I were up here in northern Minnesota. And I don’t believe I’ve ever said, “I’m glad I’m not up on the North Shore.” But I amazed myself on several occasions this past winter by speaking those very words. I kept track of the Minnesota winter via the News-Chronicle and the internet and phone calls. Heavy snow, ice storms, power outages – it seemed like they all conspired with the scary economic situation to make the past winter one mighty depressing season.
There was beauty, too, though. I saw some photos that were stunning. And the St. Urho parade went on – although I seem to remember that it was briefly spring for that. The various events that always happen (and I always miss) during the winter seemed to take place more or less as scheduled. Lots of children sang and danced for the production of the Wizard of Oz, rehearsals proceeded for the musical Cinderella (which, alas, I also missed), a solo catamaran sailor put into Lake Superior for the first leg of an ambitious voyage, the Hells Angels made plans to roar up the North Shore. (Sorry, but I couldn’t resist having Hells Angels and Cinderella in the same sentence.)
The other bad weather stories were all there, too: people helping one another, businesses donating goods and services, towns looking out for their citizens who needed assistance.
Meanwhile, back in Chicago, we had our own wicked winter to whine about. Heaps of snow were everywhere – getting grubbier and trashier as the weeks wore on. Many mornings we would wake up to a fresh dusting of the white stuff but, like cheap paint, these cover-ups were ineffective and soon the unlovely old snow was peeking through the new and once again looking ugly. City snow has a very short shelf-life.
The other color of snow that we noticed more and more as winter dragged on was . . . yellow. Bunkie, the dog, knows all about this. Plows and snowblowers created tall walls at the edge of our road. Tall dogs created yellow snow way up there. Bunkie, a short dog, simply couldn’t compete. But he tried; every morning he tried. The other thing he tried was a sharp right into every driveway we passed after we’d gone a hundred yards or so down the street. Bunkie hates the snow, so he must have figured any ol’ house, even if it wasn’t his house, was a better place to be than out in the street in the snow.
And this year, in an effort to make ourselves crazy I guess, Les and I used a photo taken of the cabin last summer as the screen saver on our computer. One of our daughters, out in a kayak, snapped it on a beautiful summer day. So, there was our beloved cabin, shining in the sun, surrounded by green, green, green, and in the foreground, blue, blue water. The birches were tall and white, the old barbecue – dignified if crumbling, chairs on the porch just barely visible.
Every time one of us used the computer, and that’s more and more all the time it seems, we were treated to a picture of the cabin. I told myself that only the evergreens were green up on the shore, and that the cabin was festooned with icicles, and that the rocks were buried with snow and that the pure white snow was littered with deer droppings since a whole bunch of deer spend the winter at our place each year. I told myself, but I never convinced myself.
Winter just wouldn’t quit this year – neither on the North Shore nor in Chicago. Crocuses bloomed and then got buried in snow. Les mowed the lawn one week and I swept snow off the driveway the next. The buds on maple trees popped out too soon and came down like hail in a mighty wind.
But now it’s July, therefore it is summer – right? We’re back in our little cabin on the North Shore. And it seems impossible that I ever uttered those words about not wanting to be up here.