Livin’ the Dream at Pearl’s

Posted on February 2, 2011


This has been such a good day.  I am well-exercized, stuffed with excellent treats, and hot on the trail of one of my more mysterious Civil War veterans.  It doesn’t get any better than this.

We’ve had sunshine and just a dusting of new snow.  I gather that south of us a big storm is dropping piles of the stuff on the State Legislature.  That may be a good thing, don’t you think?  In any case, we have been spared just this once, and had a lovely walk.

I needed the walk to wake me up as I had been up all night reading with the sort of rapt attention usually reserved for a new mystery.  I was deciphering handwritten government documents and devouring typescripts of affidavits in a century-old legal squabble over a pension.  Big yawn, right?  Ha.  Each page I turned brought new secrets into focus. 

Thomas Gardner, who may have been Charles Green—was he a deserter from the Confederate Army or a Union Private in the 7th Indiana? And why did he hang himself?  Caroline Rebecca Banks, widowed twice, pursuing her soldier’s pension for a dozen years—is she a tragic heroine or a con artist getting by as best she can? Louis Burnett, born in slavery in North Carolina to a mother named Love, sold away to Jack Shine’s Alabama plantation when he was ten, a soldier in Company B, 28th U.S. Colored Infantry—how on earth did August Stuter ever persuade him to move to Central Lake Michigan to become a farmer?

All of that arrived in the mail on a disk full of PDFs.  Just the questions, not the answers. 138 pages of ’em. And another 200 pages on the way.  I love this stuff.  My eyes were trying to decide whether to swell shut or fall out of my head when a message from Louan popped up. “I think this might be a gumbo day.” Rescue!

It is our practice, whenever the mood strikes, to repair to Pearl’s in Elk Rapids for spiritual refreshment, which often comes in the form of cheese grits, collard greens, and gumbo.  The Louisiana style cuisine is soul-warming, and the staff just plain fine.  We lingered over coffee for three hours catching up on the news.  I would show you photos of us, but Louan’s hair is completely gone for the moment and she feels it’s not really a good look on her.  (On the other hand, she’s doing really well at knocking back the cancer, so on balance things are great.)  Instead of our winsome selves, then, I offer you this:

May you have a day every bit as fine.