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I was in Duluth last week for a medical review. At times I wonder if more years of “doctoring” are worth it, and I’m tempted to schedule a session with a mortician and have done with it. It’s one of those things that are hard to decide. Most likely when my mind is finally made up I’ll be in no condition to mount any resistance and will simply go wherever they push my wheelchair to drool on my shirt front in perfect grinning bliss. Before the portage reaches that sorry “pause,” I hope to get in another time or two making selected (I apologize for collateral damage) people wish I’d never been born. It may not seem like much to the hale and hearty, but when your gait has a miserable hitch in it, you feel slightly stronger and more able to raise a bit of Cain when you see a person deliberately turn away rather than talk to you. That’s a sign of power and vigor, isn’t it? The same turning away may be in future due to shirt drool and the odor of a full diaper while strapped into my wheelchair of senility. But until I reach that pause, I hope to keep swinging. It has occurred to me that a cane would be a fine implement for disturbing the annoyances of others, and I’m ever curious how far across a room a walker can be flung to silence a gaggle of cacklers or as an alternate method of getting the TV off. One need not be popular or respected to be remembered.
In any case, while looking mortality in its ever-approaching eye last week, I saw quite a lot of ice in the harbor. I didn’t survey anywhere near all the area, but I did not see “Shipping Season” written all over that pack any more than I read “Fishing Opener” on the inland lake I saw Saturday. A week of sun and 70 degrees would change that, but there was light snow Sunday morning and it is tomb cloudy today. Sport fishermen, a gadget-prone group as any, might be ripe for icebreaking gear for their boats. There’s promotional appeal in marketing boats with an ice killer bow that would be bound to impress the fishes and gain their deepest depth of respect, as measured on a fish finder. That’s saying a lot, since no fish I’ve ever met seemed much impressed by anything.
Fish, in fact, are remarkably fair-minded and neutral. When I was a boy, they cared nothing that my gear was plain-old and poorly rigged. They bit anyway. No fish ever complained to me that I was only out there annoying them as an escape from lawn mowing and the thousand other chores mothers devise to keep idle hands and minds busily occupied. Gutting fish proved far more pleasant (and satisfying) than jumping for every “do this” and “do that” tossed my way. There were indoor appeals like watching TV or flopping down on a cushioning mattress, but the Huck Finn freedom of sitting on my shirt with feet free of sweaty sneakers while lazily eyeing my bobber was by far finer that developing couch rash watching an episode of Dobie Gillis. I was quite content with the satisfactions of being outdoors on my own. In later years, the addition of boats, beer kegs, and assorted other kalabber to my escapes proved ultimately less satisfactory than the simple form limited by self-power and what my Schwinn could carry. It didn’t get much simpler. Beer was entertaining in its season, but dirt-simple is by far easier and less hassle.
Having seen the Twin Ports looking solid packed with ice on Tuesday, I was surprised a few days later by an older (double cabin) style black hull carrier plugging along in the Thunder direction. I stood corrected in my appraisal, or if not corrected then revised. I mentioned this to someone after services on Sunday (I had a particularly religious week, having worshiped earlier in the Sam’s and Menards congregations) and was told they’d seen multiple carriers. It appears I might not be a reliable guide on the start of the shipping season. I suppose the wind could have had a thing to do with it. When the breeze blows with such energy a body has to bear down and push with all his resources to open a vehicle door, that same wind could do some disturbance to the ice. In any case, everywhere I went those two days in the Twin Ports was benefited by lots of fresh air delivery and forms of meteorological entertainment we can call “good” if we’re not too fussy on use of the term. Some might prefer to call it lively weather, but I prefer the simplicity of good weather said in hopes it might someday (as my parents wished of me) rise to expectations. Hope is generally quite affordable and readily available—good reasons for its continued use.
With my bodily vehicle inspection for the year out of the way and a cargo of things from my houses of mercantile worship, I headed home buffeted by winds and amused by slaps of rain and an occasional comic snowflake wearing Bozo shoes. Visibility wasn’t bad, but not up to a clear-day level, so unlike our visitors from the north, who seem to think adverse conditions are an enhancement to driving pleasure, I stuck to the double nickel limit, a thing not appreciated by those flocking north. Better safe than sorry, right? I left out safe and sorry, didn’t I? Well, that’s it. A car passed in the opposite lane. Bambi saw its opportunity and leapt into the gap. I almost stopped, almost missed it, but almost effectively counts as zero, though it is better having $1,000 worth of fender damage as you screech brakes than a full head-on going fifty-five. So the correct expression might be safe and less sorry to console one’s $500 deductible. I’ve expressed no sympathy for Bambi, have I?