Glory be

Posted on October 5, 2012


Miss Sadie, the Cowboy and I had pressing business in Charlevoix today.  Nevertheless, we made a detour along the ribbon road to the top of the second ridge, parked the car next to the centennial barn, and fled into the afternoon.

First we exchanged pleasantries with Sue Swain, who was working away in the wee cobbler’s shop but not averse to a little break. She showed me a stone that was probably an agate, but reminded me of the story of the “peek stones” that revealed his destiny to James Strang.  He rose to become King James I of the Mormons of Beaver Island – and fell to an assassin’s bullet.  That reminded me of Reuben T. Nichols, who was with Strang on the Island.  Reuben is not properly speaking one of my Civil War veterans, but he knew them, and baptized some of them, and married some of them, and lived here in the Township, homesteading along a road that still bears his name. I tried to tell these stories to Sue and garbled them badly, but she was encouraging. It will all come right when I write it . . . and edit it . . . and edit it some more.  Just now I see it as through a peek stone, dimly.

Miss Sadie, the Cowboy and I trotted off along the lane that borders the back forty. We have had just enough late summer rain to green up the grass, and just enough sun to set a yellow maple on fire.

Dark grey clouds hung low over the fields. Near the corner that leads to the cemetery where Reuben T. Nichols and his wife Mary White DeMary are buried, an ancient ruin of a tree contemplated the glory. It reminded me of a tree in Mrs. Uhdd’s Derbyshire, struck by lightning, shorn of its branches, and putting forth green shoots in defiance of all odds.  Perhaps it knew my Civil War veterans too—or rather, was known by them.  Perhaps it was a witness tree, marking the corner of Dan Blakely’s homestead.  No matter.  Today it marks the pumpkin patch.

At another corner an old apple tree lingers. It seems too far from the farmhouse to be part of an orchard. Could it go back further, to an Indian garden not marked on any survey? I suspect myself of romantic fancies. The tree probably grew from a seed planted by an errant robin sometime in the last century. Probably. Maybe not. It was a long time ago in any case, and yet it lives, bearing, even in this year of odd weather, a crop of shiny red fruit.

The Cowboy disappeared into the underbrush, going after the windfall apples. He ate so many he has a tummyache now, but I am not sorry for him. Miss Sadie took off in every direction at once, pretending to be a horse, galloping, galloping in the wind.

Back in the pasture the real horses—Malika, Monty and Joe—were unmoved by Mama Nature’s Big Show. They browsed in lush grass.  Joe stood near the fence, looking casual, all his weight on three legs, holding the fourth in reserve to lash out at errant spaniels. Monty whuffled notice that he and Joe were on the case. Miss Sadie and the Cowboy pretended to ignore the horses. The horses pretended to ignore the dogs. I pretended to understand more than I do.

Just in time we remembered our mission in Charlevoix, and managed to get there before the bank closed. The teller was very nice, much nicer than I might have been in her position, dealing with a last-minute customer as twilight gathered on a Friday evening in October. It’s astonishing how a little kindness like that can make the difference between a person feeling like a valuable human being or feeling like whatever Miss Sadie might have rolfed up after galloping through the woods.

We brought our valued selves home and had one of the pasties for supper. I know, I know – I said I was saving them. Apparently I was mistaken about this one. It was delicious.