Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bears and the BWCA

Just heard a story the other day about the BWCA and bears.  We're looking at a camping and canoeing trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and have been hearing all kinds of things, good and bad, about the bears up there.  Some say they're small, no problem, just follow the directions and don't tempt the bears with food and other goodies.  Others say they can be a real danger.  So we're cautiously optimistic and telling people about our plans.  That gives them a chance to report back with a story like this one.
Some guys from SD were up in that area canoeing, fishing  and drinking.  They didn't follow the guidelines.  They caught some fish and cleaned them in the camp.  So here comes a bear, bothering the campers.  Since they've got firearms along, they shoot the bear.  Bad news.  So they've got a dead bear in their camp now and realize they will be in trouble with fines to come.  They roll the bear down to the lake, tie it to the canoe, and row the carcass out to the middle of the lake, where they weight it down with rocks.  When they see the bear sink, they also see that the bear is still visible, at the bottom of the shallow lake, good clear Minnesota water, and the chains, rocks, and bear are there for anyone in a boat (or probably a plane) to see.
Smart guys.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Picking Up the Pieces

I helped yesterday as a friend here in Madison was faced with the task of cleaning out his mother's room after she passed away over the weekend.  The job was a simple one--clear away all of her things from the room, load it in our vehicles, and deposit it in his garage.  Simple.  But clearing away the last remnants of a person's effects, even after they have dwindled to what fits in a closet and a few drawers, is never easy.
She was already disappearing from the home when we got there.  The letters of her name had already been taken off the directory.  Her name had been wiped from the board outside her door.  A few items did have address labels with her name on them, preparation for this moment when the person is not their to claim their possessions.  They have none any more, not even the physical form they once inhabited.  They're gone.  I imagine the room there now, 9 West, cleaned and ready for the next traveler.
His mother had been fading for a while, and there were few signs of what might have been important to her at one time.  No vacation photos, no shots of children or grandchildren.  No portraits of her and her husband when they were younger.  No signs of hobbies or treasured keepsakes.  She had been reduced to the simplest of lives until I suppose it was easy to leave it.
My own mother spent the afternoon preparing for a trip of her own, a physical one that meant she had belongings to attend to, objects to gather up for the journey or prepare to leave behind.  She too is reducing, eliminating objects to allow herself to move quickly and lightly.  Having just turned 80, she is not ready to give up this life, and she enjoys the messy ends of it still.  So do I.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Senior Games in Madison--and More

The weekend passed with some significant physical activity, beginning with a 10K time trial on my bike, part of the Madison city Senior Games for us over-50 crowd.  The wind was howling that evening from the south, which meant we got to ride with the wind as we headed out, whisking along like the breeze until the turn, when we turned south into the gale.  Then it was like one of the mountainous climbs on the Tour de France, a constant pushing against a steady gravitational wind. The last uphill push to the finish was enough to bring you to tears.  But it's that kind of thing that makes you feel alive.

Then Saturday the wife and I went for a little canoe ride out at Lake Herman, about our fourth or fifth as we prepare for a canoeing adventure in northern Minnesota.

Finally then it was back to the Senior Games for the 1500 meters up at Trojan Field, where I managed to run a 5:49 time, which translates (sort of) to a 6:16 mile.  Not bad, but I couldn't help thinking that a little practice could peel some time off that.

Sunday we spent some time at the wife's folks' place, enjoying some social time with family and folks from Sioux Falls and beyond.  Not a bad weekend at all.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Remembering the Fourth

Having just read the book Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis this summer, I'm starting the day today, Independence Day, mindful of the significance of that day in history.  I imagine the anxiety and commitment by those who signed the Declaration of Independence, anticipating the difficulties that lay before them.  They were visionary men.

But the day is also one filled with my own memories of celebrations and events, from throwing firecrackers as a kid to being an adult who watches others take the risks of explosives.  It's also about the time of the beginning and end of my military commitment, going into and coming out of the Army.

In any case, I mark the day as one filled with memories of celebrations good and . . . interesting.