Archive for April 2011


Mud Time and Freighters

April 4th, 2011 — 6:47pm

April 3, 2011

Today’s Special:  We’re open.  That’s it.

It’s that time of year again.  Slow time.  Mud time.  This is wonderful and terrible.  Mostly wonderful, because I love the utter quiet of the north right now.  But I get depressed sometimes.  Winter never lasts long enough for me.  Winter is dramatic and definite, fresh and sharp.  Spring is rotting snow and weather that can’t make up its mind.  Some spring days feel long and gray and static no matter how hard I try to make them feel otherwise.

Two evenings ago I set off on a walk with Sallie around the curve of the bay to the marina and then down the point, going a little further than I’d meant to with every step.  I made it to the end of the point and enjoyed the fact that I’d walked a mile instead of much less.  I enjoyed the view:  chunks of iceberg, blue gray ice, and not too far out, open water.  Seagulls keened and swooped.  It was nice.  I still felt dull, though.  Then I realized I’d been hearing a loud hum for a while.  I peered into the fog that hung over the lake and there was a freighter, chugging slowly from east to west.  My so-so mood evaporated.  A freighter!  The first freighter of spring.

It was as if this boat was the first news or sign of the outside world that I’d had in months.  It was like I’d lived in total isolation for the entire winter and this was the supply ship arriving just before the last cup of flour ran out.  There was so much to wonder:  where it had come from, what it was hauling, how long it would take to get to Duluth, what the cook was making for dinner.

I watched for a moment and then turned and began walking fast back toward the diner so that I could show this ship to Rick before it chugged out of sight.  Three quarters of the way there, I saw vehicles pulling in at Agate beach.  The freighter was rousting people out of their houses from all over town and bringing them down to the boardwalk to see it, I was sure.  It was tempting to veer in that direction.  I didn’t though, didn’t even let up in my fast walking.

I found Rick cleaning the slicer.  I was sweaty and a little breathless and determined to not miss that boat.  “C’mon,” I told him, pulling on his arm.  “Hurry.  I have something to show you.  Hurry.”

He let himself be dragged up the stairs to the second floor deck.  “What is it?  A boat?” he asked as we climbed.  He knows me well.  I nodded, too busy peering out at the water to bother answering.  No freighter.  I peered and peered, but—I was too late.

I sighed, then started to tell him that yes, it had been a freighter, and it was so cool, and I was so excited—and then, from behind a clump of trees, the freighter came chugging.

“There it is!”

“Oh, yeah.  Whaddya know.  A freighter,” Rick said.  He sounded exactly as pleased as I’d wanted him to.

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