• Tag Archives Lake Superior
  • Falling in Love

    Imbolc                                                                 Valentine Moon

    “I really fell in love with that part of the world,” says Cynthia Hopkins of the Arctic, where she journeyed with other artists in 2010. “I also fell in love with the boat we were on.”  author of This Clement World opening at the Guthrie

    My promiscuity.  I shamelessly fall in love over and over again when I travel.  Bangkok’s quirky Chinatown, especially on the weekend with all those restaurants set up on the sidewalks and folks walking in the densely trafficked street.  Angkor in all its viney, scorpion infested, land-mined Hindu strangeness.  Inverness and its smoky river, walking there with Kate.  Why do we ever have to leave?  That little restaurant, Crispie’s was it, just down from the Internazionale in Rome.  The Ringstrasse in Vienna.  The left bank in Paris.

    (oh, yeah, Romania.  A more recent love.)

    Then there was Ushuaia, that frowsy scamp of a town as far south as you can get in the Americas.  And, god, just before her, those Chilean fjords.  Let me off the boat.  Give me a small house, an internet connection and forget about me until, well, forever.  Montevideo, too.  Friendly, beefy, colorful.  Old world European with a Latin twist.

    I suppose I’d have to mention those old, first loves, too.  Chicago, city of roast beef sandwiches, the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, Hyde Park.  D.C. and all its power, its monuments and museums.  And yes, like so many before me, I had a brief fling with San Francisco, but she’s so expensive, a real high-maintenance gal.

    Of course, there are a few I keep, stable-like, harems of places that I visit like a ghost Sultan, flitting in and out, but always returning for one more time.  Lake Superior, especially the true north shore, the part in Ontario.  The Georgian bay of Lake Huron.  Those rocky mountains lying just at the limits of my home turf here in the U.S.  All majesty and purple.

    Savannah and Charleston, yes.  The south is a guilty pleasure, that one with the dark desires, visited always with an eye to the road back north.  New Orleans, oh yes.  Dark queen of the south.  I’m sure I could return to the Okefenokee swamp.  And I confess to two trips to Red Cloud, Nebraska.  Those Grand Tetons.  Yes.  Cody, Wyoming. Yes.  Ely and the north woods.  Yes.

    You see, I’m the tramp really.  Letting my heart go, letting it all go.  Loving this place and that.  I’m easy, I guess.

  • The Great Lake

    Beltane                                                  Waxing Last Frost Moon

    Have you ever had a love affair that ebbed and flowed like embers in a fire wavering between bursting into flame and dying out?  I have.  Today I visited that other lover in my life, Lake Superior.  A bookshelf full of books rest in a room not ten feet from here, each one of them related to Lake Superior in some way.  An entire file drawer of a vertical file drawer contains carefully organized files, each an eco-region in the area around Lake Superior and its watershed.  In another spot sit the maps, some USGS, some others representing the land around the Lake.  There are, too, files of notes from two circle route trips I took, each time stopping in various county historical societies:  Ontanogon, Marquette, Thunder Bay to pursue research about this phenomenon less than 2 and half  hours from my front door.

    My brother Mark and I drove up there.  He wandered Park Point and hiked all the way up Lake Street to the top, turning then for a magnificent view of the lake.  While he discovered Duluth, I attended a conference on Sulfide Mining on the Mesabi Range.  This was a large group, 70 plus folks, gathered to hear experts discuss various aspects of sulfide mining’s impact on the waters of three watersheds and the communities of people, trees and wildlife that would share the land with this toxic producing form of mining.

    It was one of those clear northern spring days.  The sun flashed off the lake, bouncing off the crests of waves made by lakers going in and out of the Duluth Harbor.  The temperature was cool by the lake, warmer up the slope of the hillside where St. Scholastica sits; it’s fortress like main building dominating the surrounding the area.

    The drive was long and the stay short, a combination I try to avoid, though this is my second time recently.  The drive out to Lincoln, Nebraska to get the dogs was also a long drive, short stay, quick turn around.

    Not sure where Lake Superior and I stand.  The old spark was there as we crested the hill and looked out over the St. Louis River toward Superior, Wisconsin and the lake spread out below us.  My research, though, sits unused, as it has for several years.  What’s the status of this relationship?  Not sure.

  • Staying Within My Skill Set

    May 22, 2010              Beltane                    Waxing Planting Moon

    While reading an article about Trevor-Rope, a British historian,  I learned that Gibbon wrote Decline and Fall in an attempt to answer the problem raised by the Enlightenment’s idea of progress.  This triggered, for some reason, an echo of the talk by Siah Armajani at the MIA a couple of weeks ago.  A successful artist and philosophically inclined Iranian, he said, “I don’t know how to make legs. [this in response to a question wondering why there were no legs on the figure he said represented himself in an installation currently on display at the MIA in the Until Now exhibition.]  I try to stay within my skill set.”

    I’ve not tried to stay within my skill set in that I’ve lived what I call a valedictory life, one typified by reaching to another skill, like say, beekeeping or vegetable gardening or becoming a docent, rather than following the trail laid down by my more obvious gifts:  scholar, poet, writer, political activist, monk [that is, a person oriented toward the inner world].  That’s not to say I’ve abandoned them, I haven’t; but I keep myself off balance by continually being on what I love, a steep learning curve.

    This lead me to wonder just what my skill set is and what I would be doing if I chose to remain within it.  A notion came to me, though it’s not the first notion along these lines that I’ve had, but I thought some about what it would mean to stick with it, see it through to the end.

    My study contains stacks and shelves of books arranged because they speak to a general interest I have:  the Enlightenment and modernism, the Renaissance, Carl Jung, American philosophy, matters Chinese, Japanese, Cambodian and Indian, Poetry.  You get the idea.

    Ian Boswell, a recent Mac grad, and pianist for Groveland UU, said he loved my presentations because they presented a “clear stream of ideas.”  I said, “The history of ideas.”

    There is a core skill set:  I have a decent grasp of the history of certain big ideas in Western thought and a much less comprehensive, but still extant, notion of the history of certain ideas in the East as well.  I can communicate about these ideas in a manner accessible to most.

    So.  Put that together  with new definitions/understandings of the sacred, the reenchantment of the world, an earth/cosmos oriented approach to the inner life, an historical and ecology examination of Lake Superior, Thomas Berry’s Great Work, a long immersion in the Christian and liberal faith traditions, a now substantial learning in art history, an awareness of and some skill in the political process and work on translating Ovid’s Metamorphosis, an idea begins to present itself.

    A series of essays, monographs loosely tied together through a historical, ecological and political look at Lake Superior might use the Lake as a particular example.  It could be the thread that held together thoughts on emergence as a redefinition of the sacred, a symbol reenchanted in another {this is where the work on Ovid could play a role.], a place where the Great Work can focus in another [this is where the political would be important], a look at the history of ideas related to lakes and nations, placing Lake Superior in an art  historical context by examining photographs, drawings, paintings, poetry and literature related to it.

    It’s a thought, anyhow.

  • After the New Year, Backup

    orchard-inwinter300.jpg-3  bar rises 30.00  SW0  windchill -3  Winter

    Waxing Crescent of the Wolf Moon

    The Orchard in Winter

    2009 has well and truly begun.  The new year crept in on snow shoes, covered in a snowmobile suit and holding a cup of hot cocoa.  This was a Minnesota new year.

    We’ve had a cold winter so far and it looks like it’s going to continue for a while.  Somewhere around the end of January most of us begin to have fantasies of being somewhere else.  Many fantasize someplace warm, but I tend to go with just another location.  My escape this year may be to the UP or Ashland, Wisconsin.  Still gathering information for that Lake Superior book.

    Bill Schimdt suggested I back up this website onto my own computer since it hangs out in the cloud most of the time. I did that.  It was an interesting excursion into the bowels of the system.  It comes out in a form determined by mysql, the open source data base used by many servers.  The format is strange, made up of tables with columns of numbers.  They all make sense, once you begin to read carefully.  Anyhow, this is a once a month operation Bill suggests.  After I do it, then the regular backup I do every day will collect it and convey to my external hard disk.  I actually have two, but I still have to configure them the way I want.

    Today I start writing Homecomer.  Look for it to be posted on the Liberal Faith page sometime after January 11th.