Northern by Nature

So this is the life — when you drive north on a dirt road in Michigan until houses disappear and your signal drops. You buy a map from a woman with a family name as Finnish-sounding as every other town on the Peninsula. You roast meat over fires smuggled from Prometheus to cavemen to modern man, sleep beside brothers, the fire crackling, the smell of birch, and you bandage the day’s wounds, each one the opening line to a great story.

So this is the life — when you wake to silence beneath a canopy of stars and planets you’ve neither seen nor dreamed, everywhere glimmering and shimmering millions of light-years and lifetimes ago, and in the stars you draw faces of people you can’t seem to forget.

So this is the place — where the glaciers retreated, and there, on the shore of that lake, painted rocks play time-lapse video of a world that can’t stand still, not for an Augenblick. The glaciers peel back earth like scabs. Minerals seep. The sun rises as soon as it’s set. Stars flirt with Venus and Mars. One day the sun shines, the next the snow falls, blanketing the same forests where the people before us hunted game, made clothes of hide, concocted herbal potions, sung war songs and rain songs, songs of happiness and grief, named the Great Spirit in every stone and leaf.

So those were the days — when stars turned men into poets and prophets, words uttered beneath the cosmic canopy wafted as lightly as waterborne winds, yet strong enough for a species to climb them to illuminated heavens.

1 June 2014
Pictured Rocks, Michigan



[Ice on Lake Superior in June — still couldn’t resist swimming in it]