Sunday, February 17, 2008

from Door County: the peace before the storm

Such a calm beginning to the week-end! Wake up, look out the window, see this:

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The clouds disperse, the sky's blue, that blue that makes you not hate February quite so much. It's a fleeting moment of winter love.

It’s a perfect day.

We have skis with us. We have enthusiasm. We have a state park across the road, on the Green Bay side of the peninsula. We glide quietly through a winter forest.

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Magnificent. That alone was worth the drive. We watch others love this day equally energetically.

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And, we climb a lookout tower to get a different view of the coastline as it dips into the village of Ephriam.

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I tell Ed – this is the tower I climbed with daughters when they were little. It taught me to get my fear of heights under control.
It’s under control?
– the man knows my weaknesses.

Our innkeeper suggested that I stop in and say hi to Joel, over at the basement café of the Ecology Store. It’s in the old meeting house in Sister Bay.

Joel is from one my favorite spots in France -- Brittany. He’s been in Door County for about a dozen years – oh, what one doesn’t do for one’s sweetie! - but he speaks enthusiastically about the village of his kid years. And, remarkably, it is the village where I’m expecting to get to this spring. He’s thrilled. I always want to tell people to go there – it’s so beautiful, but it’s so far! Oh, I know. It’s at the very western tip of France. For me, that’s the attraction.

Joel makes a fantastic curried cauliflower bisque and a hot cheese and tomato sandwich. The coffee is best of best. Or, maybe it’s the setting – by a warm stove, after several hours on the trails.

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It’s late afternoon, but I still want a look at the Michigan Lake side of Door County. Newport State Park is a place I used to go to with daughters and I want to see it now, in the winter cold of a February sunset.

We give up on skis and hike along the coast, then through the forest, then out again until we see the islands around the northern bend.

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The wind is sharp now and the sun is almost gone. Ed leads me out onto the iced-over beach.

How do you know we’re not over water?
– I ask. It’s no secret that my adventuring quotient is far lower than his.
There are grass clumps here.
They could be underwater. Or sporadic islands.

But we forge ahead, because the waves, breaking against the ice are so loud, so beautiful, so harsh, that you want to get closer, just for that one spray, caught on your shivering camera (okay – shivering hand; the camera doesn't care).

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We better hurry back, Ed warns. He has this way of being calm, indifferent really, and then suddenly infusing an urgent note, making me think that we are in imminent danger.

But we’re not. The wind is strong, but the path is marked by snowshoes and we make our way through the darkening forest to the beach as the sun fades, throwing its inevitable red streaks everywhere.

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We’re exhausted. We eat dinner at a place just around the corner from our Inn. Solid Door County supper club fare. Our appetites are huge. But still no room for anything sweet.

I’ve been tracking the approaching storm system all week long and it looks pretty certain that it'll hit us hard enough, so that we will not make it out of Door County Sunday.

No matter. I have my books, my work materials, my chocolates and a half bottle of rosé from Cassis. And so another tempest begins. With pellets and fat wet flakes and most everything inbetween.

from Door County: snowed in!

Fading Internet, disappearing roads, disappearing world!

More later. Maybe much later.