Sometimes the writing flows effortlessly; sometimes, like now, it's a bit more work. What follows is a meander, a little slice of life with surprises and contrasts and a rhythm of its own. I'm reminded of life's invitation to make room for it all, even when it doesn't fit tidily together.
Instead of hiking all three days of our recent extended weekend on the north shore of Lake Superior, Joanie and I decided to spend our first afternoon exploring the Canal Park area of Duluth. We wandered in and out of shops, browsing a bunch and buying little. In one shop, I found a beautiful little book of photos and verse authored by a local photographer and writer – a perfect Christmas gift for my dear friend and business partner, Kirk Lamb. Ten minutes later, book in bag, as we browsed camping equipment in the original Duluth Pack store, in walks the aforementioned Dr. Lamb. That we would bump into him at that moment, in a good-sized city well over 100 miles from home, astonished me. I alternated between babbling and standing there speechless.
The next day, Joanie and I hiked over nine miles on a stretch of the Superior Hiking Trail located within the Duluth city limits – a most interesting and varied hike. It began on a mile or so of boardwalk along the lake, moved steeply uphill on neighborhood sidewalks, then into woods along a high ridge overlooking the city, down a long stretch of creek bed, down a long, narrow lane that divided the city's two main cemeteries and back into the woods again to the edge of Duluth, where we called a cab for the trip back to our hotel.
We saw mansions on the ridge and boarded-up houses and buildings down below. We noticed two girls picnicking in a parking lot on a tattered blanket protecting them from the asphalt. We passed bare maples, dormant for winter, and stands of birch with green leaves galore. We witnessed the drama of a screeching mouse trying to escape the clutches of a hawk, thrashing in the bush as he hunted his prey and, eventually, flying away mouse-less. Later on the trail, we came upon a sad scene: a recently deceased 4-point buck, who apparently made it back to the woods after being hit by a car.
There was life, death and escape from death, poverty and wealth, the ordinary and extraordinary, the joy of watching Joanie's catlike movements as she stalked birds with binoculars raised, the easy flow of our being together, the water, the woods and the wind – lots and lots of wind. It was our constant companion that day, a steady 15-20 knots, gusting to 30 or 40 at times. On a couple occasions, the approaching gusts sounded like a freight train moving through the treetops. I remember once wondering if a waterfall were nearby.
The day before, as I perused Kirk's Christmas present, one of the poems, entitled "The Wind", caught my attention, prompting me to buy the book. That next day, as Joanie and I hiked in the wind, I noted the synchronicity and decided to share our experience and the poem with you.
Taking your chances with the wind
means you have to be prepared
for the parts of you that are
as well as