Ghost Town

Today’s Special:  Creamy Mushroom Soup with a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Today’s Cookies:  Monster (All Gone.  Getting late in our winter hours day to make more.  Sorry!)

Today’s Very Partial List of Thank yous :  Nikki, for your kind words about the blog while you waited for coffee the other morning–and to all of you who say such nice things about it.  Charles from Beulah who called the other day to say how much he liked South of Superior.   Mike for knowing to say “Smile.”  Rick for the sloppy joes I ate too many of last night.  Pat and Sharon for the homemade sloppy joe buns.  Gary for always over-the-top praise and encouragement.  Winnie for funny socks and red binder clips and many other gifts.  Robyn, for being a fellow person-who’s-obsessed- with-writing.  Pamela, Maria, Morgan, Meg, Karen, Lisa– for  your friendship.

Today’s Quote:  “We are who we were.”  Frank McConkey, Court of Memory.

Today’s Grand Marais moment:   Last night’s moment, really.  Walking.  The night was quiet, still, raw and mild at the same time.  The sky seemed thick, hazy.  It didn’t rain or snow, but seemed as if it were thinking of it.  I scuffed along thinking of how long I’ve been here–21 years.  It’s hard to believe.  After so long here, in a way that’s sometimes wistful and sometimes heartening, this place can seem full of ghosts to me.  Of people who’ve come and gone, grown up or  died or  moved on.  Of things I’ve done, the different people I’ve been.  Of good and bad times, of ways of thinking.  It all lives on in layers, memories.

Coming off the beach yesterday at mid morning, I realized I’m still wearing the same red plaid wool coat I wore the winter I moved here.  I’m still  feeling the same thrill at the lake, still watching my shadow move along with me with the pleased, slightly taken aback feeling I’ve had ever since I was a kid, like the shadow’s a quiet friend who’s tagged along and surprised me.   I still look more or less the same, still love pizza and cookies and walking and reading.  At the same time as I’m the same in so many ways, of course, like anyone, I’m different.  Older, less naive, more contented, less frantic.

There are memories everywhere:  Here’s the corner where I crashed my bike one June night and ended up getting stitches.  There’s the old Earl of Sandwich where we worked for so many years.  Here’s where I tipped off my sled into a snowbank, laughing until I couldn’t breathe.  There’s where I lost that ear ring, there’s a walk Jenna and I took, there’s Rick and I coming back from the brewery, but which year is it?  There’s a show of northern lights over the bay, there’s me tuning the radio to WNMU back when the reception still came in.  There’s our old Subaru, there’s Sampson and Earl and Stoney, good dogs long dead.  There’s Don Carpenter riding his bike; Sue and Leo passing by and waving; Ike  driving his Scout up the highway so slow; George waiting to come in for his coffee; Frank in his long overcoat and his hands clasped behind his back, jumping over a crack in the sidewalk.

All these threads and thousands more–  I’m not thinking of moving, but even if I were, it seems  impossible.  As if I’d be a thin version of myself, one layer only instead of all these many.

Category: Today's Special | Tags: , , , , , , 10 comments »

10 Responses to “Ghost Town”

  1. lynn

    This is wonderful, Ellen, on so many layers. You express so well our feelings of being tied to, as Thoreau writes, our “native valley.” There are other beautiful places we could live, but would all of ourselves be there?

  2. Sal Brooks

    Glad you’re back to writing the blog Ellen. I missed it. I see things when I walk that have happened in my 13 years here too.

  3. Tony Block

    Funny. Whenever I am back in Grand Marais I take walks and narrate out loud different places and memories of them, things I have done, seen, etc. Today’s blog really hit home for me.

  4. Pamela Grath

    Beautiful, Ellen–thank you! I remember the old Earl of Sandwich, too. And 21 years? I’ve been almost that long in Leelanau (and many more years of vacationing before living here), but when I revisit Kalamazoo, there are ghosts everywhere I turn, too. Much love, dear friend!

  5. Mary Airgood Vecellio

    I think 2013 will be a great year for writing. I’ve missed your blog so and here I’ve gotten a bonus 2 blogs in a short span of time! Keep up the good work!

  6. Sue Sandstrom Koch

    Just finished South of Superior,a Christmas gift from my husband…loved it! I grew up on Lake Superior (Ashland ,
    Wi) and know the draw the lake has. I felt it in your book…great feeling. We’ll have to get up north soon ! Then to find your blog…..continued great reading!

  7. ellenair

    Thank you, everyone!

  8. Mary Yoos

    Ellen…..I love reading your blog, and then there’s a little nugget in it “just for me”…Leo and Sue passing by and waving……

    It is really comforting to know that other people have these kinds of memories of them. Especially knowing it’s you.

  9. Robyn

    This made me think of this quote from Wendell Berry (have you read him?) which we used in our wedding ceremony:

    I have got to the age now where I can see how short a time we have to be here. And when I think about it, it can seem strange beyond telling that this particular bunch of us should be here on this little patch of ground in this little patch of time, and I can think of the other times and places I might have lived, the other kinds of man I might have been. But there is something else. There are moments when the heart is generous, and then it knows that for better or worse our lives are woven together here, one with one another and with the place and all the living things.

  10. ellenair

    Robyn, I do like Wendell Berry, and this quote is wonderful. Thank you for sharing it.


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