Head in the clouds, feet firmly strapped in YakTrax

Posted on January 20, 2011


If this post had a soundtrack it would be I don’t know why/I love you like I do/I don’t know why, I just doooooo. Old song. That’s OK, I’m an old bat. That was the sort of song that Tony Bennett and Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra used to sing when singers wore tuxedos accessorized with a highball glass and a cigarette. In my adolescence I thought that sort of thing was very romantic, and I could hardly wait until I grew up and could swan about in chiffon and satin, a glamorpuss in strappy high heeled dancing shoes.

Needless to say, my life took a different turn. I have traded cocktail dresses for skyscapes, and replaced my dancing shoes with YakTrax.

This week, in fact, I need the snowshoes. I got into a lot of trouble trying to follow the Duo over this snowbank down on the beach.

They disappeared, and I sank up to my knees and stuck there.  It crossed my mind to take a photo for you, just to show you how well my new boots were working, but I thought better of it.  I put the camera away and dug myself out.  When I was a dreamy adolescent I would have sat down and cried in despair until someone came to pull me out.

So how do we account for the shift in worldview?  I think it may have something to do with this.  Half a century ago this very day we were living in Washington, D.C.  It was a cold and snowy day, which explains why I was at home with a box of Kleenex watching the whole thing on television rather than down there on the Mall in person.  The wind whipped around, and the young President’s hair blew in his eyes as he spoke.  Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans — born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage — and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

It was entirely inspirational. The glamor was still there of course. Even if you are young enough to be my grandchild, which a depressing number of you are, you know who Jackie was. The Kennedys put stars in our eyes, and at the same time, called us to be our best and truest selves. I know, I know, there are all sorts of reasons to challenge that vision. But nothing will ever diminish the gift of that particular time and place.  I still wanted–and got–the fancy prom dress and the silver dancing shoes.  But I had begun to think about their relative importance in the grand scheme of things. 

All the people who’ve lived on this patch of ground before me had their own dreams and found their own strengths when they needed them.  Lots of them took themselves Away to earn a living or just to see what was on the other side of the drumlins.  A surprising number of them are buried up there on the ridge overlooking Torch Lake. 

A few years ago I interviewed Pastor Janie Beasley for a newspaper profile.  She told me she was on the roster of chaplains over at Mortensen’s Funeral Home in Central Lake.  I mulled that one over.  Why, I wanted to know, would someone want to be buried in a place where they had no family ties left, where if they wanted a minister to conduct the funeral, the family would have to choose a stranger from a roster?  

They’re going home, she said.  And I could see it.  I could see her vision, and I could see the land, the ground we belong to far more than it will ever belong to us. 

And now Dale Reedy has plowed me out.  Time to head out and about on my rounds.  I don’t know why/I love you like I do/I don’t know why, I just doooooo . . .