Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sugar Sugar and the Niagara Escarpment

They have hidden the sugar jar at the New Moon coffee house.  Peggy was getting into it.  Not that they really minded, but at about fifty years old, Peggy is functioning at about a second grade level and tends to put way too much sugar in her coffee.  Not good for Peggy. Not that they really mind.  Peggy is pretty good at hanging out at the Moon, picking up toys, newspapers, wiping the tables.... and saying "Hello, my name is Peggy".  Aaron thinks she also has some other health issues that make ingesting vast amounts of sugar .... ah, not a good thing.  So, I need to ask for the sugar now when I get a coffee.

Anyways..... So I was sitting in Oblio's monday afternoon when, gosh almighty, in strolls Ed.  Hadn't seen him much since he retired, fell in love and moved to Canada.  Whoa... so there is a lotta catch-up talk.  He is back in town to try to sell his condo.... or figure out what to do with the over four thousand books he has stashed there.  Ed has a thing for books.  We're just chatting and catching up when he mentions that on tuesday he was going to do a day trip to Door County.... do I want to come along.
Door County is the long thin little peninsula in Eastern Wisconsin that separates Green Bay from Lake Michigan.  It's nice up there.  Lotta little villages sitting on little harbors.... Bailey's Harbor, Egg Harbor, Rowley's Bay, Sister Bay, Ellison Bay..... yadda,'s very pretty and a great place to buy Wisconsin Souvenir Mugs,,,,,,, genuinely made in China.  Lot of the travel mags call it the "Cape Cod" of the midwest.... which sounds a hokey as all get out, but probably better than being called other things, say, the Siberia of the Midwest (which is in Minnesota) or the Tehran of the Midwest(which is somewhere in North Dakota) or the Guantanamo Bay of the Midwest (another name for Chicago). Door County is also part of what they call the Niagara Escarpment, which is the America equivalent to a mix of the White Cliffs of Dover and some red beans and rice..... which makes no sense what so ever, but Ed told me all about it.....this Escarpment thing... (Hey, if you read that much stuff and you have a captive audience... why gosh, you have to talk about it).... I also learned that Ontario is the only Canadian Province that touches all the Great Lakes, except for Lake Michigan.  Bottled up knowledge is a terrible thing to waste.  So is bottled beer and boy and howdy I sure was glad we had a twelve pack of Sam Adam's Oktoberfest.  Helps the information digest.  We stopped at a couple of cemeteries on the way up there.  Ed's family goes way back to the 1860's and most of them are buried up on the peninsula.... and gosh, did I hear a lotta family history, too.  Kind of a genealogical escarpment rather than a geological one.  I also learned that when a Dane marries a Norwegian.... half the family will spell the name Christianson and the other half Christiansen... which accounts for all the mis-spellings on the graves, see.  So I was working on bottle two while I learned which Grandfather came from where and which was a logger, farmer or which uncle jumped into Sicily during WWII and which one accidentally shot himself during deer hunting season in 1958.

Another reason I went with him was to see my sister and her husband.  They were at his family's cottage in Ephraim cleaning up after a storm that hit the county last thursday.

Well the storm left a bunch of down trees on the property, but thankfully none fell on the cottage.....which dates back to the 1880's or something, which My brother in law's grandfather bought back in the early 1920's or so... from somebody name Erickson... or Eriksen... which Ed and my brother-in-law discussed to no end.... see, the proper spelling, if you ancestors were English-Norwegian, or Danish-Norwegian. 
And I was into my third beer by then.  So we then went to a bookstore up in Ellison's Bay that Ed knew about..... over TWENTY THOUSAND used books.  We had to stop.  Ed wanted to see if he had anything about the Niagara escarpment.  You really can never have to much information about escarpments, it seems.
Now, we hit Gills Rock... looked at the old ferry docks, and then headed south along the Lake Michigan shore.  Ed wanted to visit Cana Island, which is only about 8 acres, accessible by a small spit of land walk.... and still has the old 1869 lighthouse.
Ed gazed out on the water and started talking about what it must have been like, back then, to be way out on the lake and what a relief it must have been for the sailors to see the lighthouse, to know that they had rounded the last shoals and that the sailing would be pretty clear, then, most of the way down the lake.

And then.... he started talking about.... being 69 and retired, and in love with someone  fourteen years younger.... and moving to a foreign country... "Which is not all that foreign, " he said, " because they do watch football, see, and the language is mostly English," he laughed, "but I don't know anyone there! And I don't know where to get a haircut... where to buy a beer.... I don't know the land....the cities.... thank God we share the same escarpment!!!!"

....... So.... I had another beer as we sat on the rocks... and gave him a good listening... and Ed can talk.  And he did.  About all sorts of stuff.  And then more.

And I realized why he wanted to come up here.  And I said nothing.
On the ride back south..... I realized why it is sometimes necessary to hide the sugar bowl from folks like Peggy...... and why we should always preserve our lighthouses for people like Ed.  There are rocks in them waters, see.


squatlo said...

Christ, you're a funny mo' fo'... someone should gather up the best of your ramblin' man essays into a tidy travel book and market it the thing like Bill Bryson's... You could do this for a living, and probably afford at least another 12 pack of your favorite brews.
Great post!

Sherry Peyton said...

Like an island in the storm, you give the most satisfying relief from the muck that is the day. Thanks dude friend.

nonnie9999 said...

this story would make mark twain proud, jimm!

you make your town (and surrounding escarpments) sound so quaint and lovely. if it didn't get so damned cold there, i'd want to buy ed's condo and move up there.

Christopher said...

The Great Lakes are a fascinating region of the country.

Historic, beautiful, full of wonder and surprises.

I remember the first time I saw Lake Ontario. I walked out to the Light House (it's at the end of a long, man-made breaker) in Charlotte, NY and looked north toward Canada. It was a cool day in September and Lake Ontario might as well had been an ocean.

Freighter ships, gulls and white caps -- the briny-smell of the sea. I had hoped to see Toronto on the other side but, Lake Ontario is huge, really huge, too large to see all the way to Canada.

Randal Graves said...

Good job, now everyone knows the dropoff point for that good Canuck weed.

susan said...

It's hard to move to a place where you don't know anyone but the person you love. Nicely done.

S.W. Anderson said...

What an enjoyable read. I salute your kind patience and your ability to take a very good picture of that lighthouse after . . . how many beers? ;)

Tony said...

everyone can get a lucky lighthouse pic on Digital (Xcept me). Watch your escarpments, Jim. All escarpments are Not the same, I was told once.

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