A column about history, culture, policy, and things in between.
Tuesday of last week saw high humidity and temperatures approaching the mid 90's. Then on Saturday morning as I walked around the Farmers Market there was a chill in the air. Where else but the upper Midwest would you run air conditioning on Tuesday and wear sweats just a few days later?
Realizing that the Market's season is drawing to a close made me appreciate it all the more. What an array of bounty spread before our eyes, where in the space of a hundred yards you can purchase delectables ranging from steak to a smorgasbord of baked goods, spices and vegetables. It is a feast for the senses - the brilliance of the floral arrangements, the deep green and pale yellow of the peppers, the scent of bakery, and OH MAN - those tomatoes. All too soon we'll be in the aisles of Pick 'N Save skeptically eyeing their limp imposters, and wistfully thinking to ourselves, "You call yourself a TOMATO"??!! And all of this taken in while young performers serenade us with violin and harp. What a tremendous way to spend a lazy half-hour on a Saturday morning.
Autumn is here, and as long as I can remember it has been my favorite season. The cooler temperatures, crisp air, fabulous color, and our agricultural bounty all combine to stamp this magical season's impression upon us. It got me thinking about something I wrote nearly twenty five years ago that I titled Fall's Run. Barb and I were hiking the Leelanau Penninsula in northern Michigan (pictured above), when we stumbled upon one of the most fabulous and confounding sights in all of nature. We sat and gazed in silence as the salmon were "running" up the Leland River. I was mesmerized by the sight then, and am transfixed by its memory now. I wrote a tribute to those noble creatures which I present below. I apologize as the blogging software does not allow for proper spacing.
As the leaves softly turn to a burnished gold, and the air cools and crackles and snaps in the night;
The earth yields her bounty in richness untold, and the rivers are home to an ancient sight.
A bottomless impulse that has no name, summons them from the boundless deep.
Irrestible object or immovable force - the next generation their harvest to reap.
Shining bands of ribboned steel, explode from the surface and up through the mist.
They know not what drives them, what makes them die; a force as committed as a clenched fist.
Like angry mortars they hurl themselves, into the teeming, foaming spray.
Battered and dazed they do not relent. Rest - regroup - then back to the fray.
A haven up-river beckons them, where their journey began in a quiet pool.
To find it, to reach it, and pass on their life. Then die in that water, sweet-calm and cool.
Why must it be that very same spot, where the light of day first reached their eyes?
How do they know it, what guides their way, through miles of shore traveled long ago?
Some few make it back to that very same spot, to pass on their spirit which now ebbs away.
Exhausted and battered, destroyed and withdrawn. Yet never defeated in the gentle cool sway.
Their victory won they complete the chain, their bodies surrender the seed of new life.
With me or without me their years spin away, their redmeption won through this noble strife.
The almost mythological trek of the salmon remains for me one of the seminal experiences in all of nature. It's autumn in Wisconsin folks - let's get OUT THERE.