Sunday, September 28, 2014

On the Most Perfect Day in Montague Michigan, Wilbo Goes Once More to the Lighthouse and Becomes a Street Side Aid to Tourists.

"Once more to the lighthouse" is a good cry for early fall. I walked out to the White Lake north channel light, and the White River Lightstation across the water was at least ten miles away by car. So my day trip went to the lighthouse, and yet short of the way. I climbed the Ludington North Breakwater lighthouse in summer and visited Grand Haven and Muskegon lights on pier walks, so I can check lighthouses off on the summer todo list.

When I reached the end of the north breakwater, a family had taken up a position at the edge, staring into the water, which had that slight bluish hue one sees in quarry water. All had green ball caps with the stitched helmet of Michigan State University. One said to me, "No!" I joked in return, "Yes, I have had a few setbacks this week, and yet I'm not throwing myself in the water". Many submerged quarry stones, dolomite boulders, made diving a dangerous idea. All three laughed, including the young man in the wheelchair. We soaked up the extraordinary sun and talked about the victories of Michigan State and the possible coaching changes to come at University of Michigan. We fist bumped, shouting "Spartans Will" and I returned to my car, my legs feeling flexible for the first time that afternoon.

I look for signs of nature when I go on tour. For the first time in a long time, I saw forage fish in the sand bottom waters north of the breakwater, a good sign because sport fish gobble up those schools. I wondered if it meant the big lake had gone up a quantum leap in health this summer, cooler waters, more oxygen and better habitat. I'm sitting in downtown Montague now, a wild place thanks to the adjacent White River flats, and three flights of Canadian Geese have flown east north east over my position, formations of fifty, eighteen and fifteen. I am expecting a few more flights although we are in the blue hour, the hour of dwindling light after the sun has gone below the horizon. I would like to know if sundown triggers them to fly away from the flame ball sinking into the lake waters.

I passed most of my Saturday browsing around Grand Haven, where a city wide art tour has placed art on street corners and in retail shops. I passed most of my Sunday in Montague where most of the retail shuttered by early afternoon if had opened at all. I passed a few happy hours writing in the Book Nook, drinking from a big mug of coffee. The woven metal chairs and tables stayed out on the streetscape, so I continued my writing at a round black table. That made me an unofficial tour guide for Montague, little did I mind. 

A couple, the man tall and the woman dressed in cute clothes, were walking up to try the door of Book Nook, as many people do after close. He asked me when it closed. I said an hour ago at the early hour of One in the afternoon. We ran through the list of Sunday restaurants and after they had admitted to boredom with the Harborview Grille, I suggested Jimmy's Pub, a Harley Davidson bar with a pretty good short order kitchen, daily soups offered even. A few storefronts away, the pair brightened at the possibility for adventure and thanked me for the suggestion. In fact, the house chili has fueled my wandering all day. After an hour, the couple pulled over in their car, she rolled down her Cadillac window, and praised Jimmy's menu to me. She thanked me. When I waved back and said, "The pleasure is mine", the two giggled.

A man with a clerical collar approached from a parked Jeep Cherokee. He looked every piece a man of the cloth, and he introduced himself as Rod Otto, retired pastor of the Lutheran church. He stated his purpose, "I am looking for the Montague Museum". I had never been as it opens for a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I had seen signs locating the museum at top of a bluff reached by Downing Street. I looked it up on the web, saw the limited season and suggested he go up the hill anyways. Volunteers might be making the garden ready for winter, I explained, "Most small museums I had seen in West Michigan were arranged by volunteers who took pity on me looking in windows." He has just delivered two sermons at the Reformed Church, guest minister, and he and his wife were staying for the week in the parsonage. He spent most of his free time volunteering at the Catholic Cathedral on Division in Grand Rapids. He said, "I am now a street preacher". I assured him that,  "I have a good car to take me home, a comfortable place to live and a gainful job awaiting me Monday morning". He thanked me for being, "kind to travelers", and in a few minutes his jeep hit the curb while making the turn to go up Dowling Street.

Will Juntunen

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