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Monday, 2 August 2010

Lake Affect



We used to lie on the grass
in the summer evening. And listen
to the night
wind blowing
on the steep steps
down to the lake.


American Marram Grass (Ammophila breviligulata), Kohler-Andrae State Park, south of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, with Lake Michigan in background: photo by Royalbroil, 2006
Sandy beach, Little Sand Bay, Apostle Island National Lakeshore, Lake Superior: photo by Bobak Ha'Eri, 2007


Curtis Roberts said...

This moves me very deeply on many levels. I grew up minutes from the beach on Long Island and spent a lot of time there in all seasons (especially once I could get there on my bicycle and later in a car). Currently I live too just a little too far from the water and am acutely conscious of this because something’s been subtracted from my blood. When I started traveling all the time to Chicago and regularly crossed the inland sea that is Lake Michigan, I did what any normal person would do and marveled at its majesty, expanse and power. I have so many Illinois friends who spend time at Wisconsin lake beaches, but I’ve never seen one. So, this is it. Great. The words of the poem are very simple, straightforward and express things I’ve felt and remember in my bones. Lake Affect – what can I say? Bull’s-eye. I’m pretty sure I’ll be there tonight between trips past the insomnia machine.

TC said...

Thanks very much, Curtis. This one was waiting patiently for a Lake Michigan lover to come along.

Growing up where I did, the oceans were so far away one didn't even consider them, and the lakes had to stand in for them. Which in some respects they did rather well. Especially Michigan, which was the closest. Superior was even wilder. Later I lived close to Huron, Erie and Ontario. But Detroit and Cleveland rather spoiled the first two of those for me. Ontario I remember principally for one moment, in the back of a car, passing along the northern shore of that lake, late afternoon, golden light, Andy Williams singing Canadian Sunset.

(OMG, as they say in the Mall, is that actually a Memory??)

These few lines of the poem are actually the central fragment -- the germ of "affect" -- of a longer reflection upon events occurring in Michigan City, Indiana, one summer in the 1940s.

There were allusions to an older female cousin, her bermuda shorts, and other bits of period cultural paraphernalia. It reminded me a bit of one of my favourite books from the period after my Halliburton period and my John R. Tunis period, and just before, or possibly concurrent with, my Timetables of All the Class I Railroads period: that is, Maureen Daly's Seventeenth Summer. The action took place in Fond Du Lac. There were bermuda shorts, & c.

Wisconsin was pretty much my idea of Heaven, in that epoch.

aditya said...

Wonderful recollections.

as a balloon.

Simple. Beautiful.

TC said...

Thank you, Aditya. You've grasped perfectly that there's nothing here to grasp.

We've lifted off together.



Looking at the week that was in pictures, Johnny just remembered that Lake Michigan was in Tintin, "where the gangsters dumped Tintin" -- in Tintin in America, the very first of the books (I think), no Captain Haddock, no Thompson and Thomson, just snowy and Tintin arriving in Chicago to clean up the gangland and from there traveling all over out west. . . .

Back to the pictures!

~otto~ said...

Now there is a memory that is more than an empty vessel -- even if you made it up. It felt so good, I might claim it as my own memory.

TC said...

Well, Steve, the best I can say is that I cleared out. Of gangland, that is. Before Tintin and Snowy cleaned it up. Or possibly just a bit after.

(My maternal grandfather, a Chicago policeman, was called to duty in gangland at the scene of the St. Valentines Day Massacre. He probably could have done with a hand from Tintin.)

Now it's gangland again... right around the corner.

And thanks, Otto. Okay, I'm caught. I didn't make it up. Nothing but the truth. An indelible memory.

Yet as I reach out now to touch the original scene, re-entering the moment in all its living experiential tone and texture...