Friday, September 16, 2016

On the shores of Lake Lansing, it Was a Morning for Boats That Raised Questions.

Taller blades of grass have a bead of dew each near tip. Bead of dew clings below the grass tip a distance set precisely by physics. Mist has burned off the lake that an hour ago had no visible shore across the water. Now it is possible to see a line of lakefront cottages, tear-outs holding a place for trophy homes sure to be built. My professor of poetry lived in one years ago. He invited us out for an afternoon of wine and verse and only one member of the class showed. She soon joined the ranks of ex-girlfriends when I joined again the league of the dumped. Maybe this made for an unforgettable lesson in poetry. A pontoon boat has put in the water but yet has to leave the dock. The motor roars to life for a minute, stalling when the captain asks that motor to move the boat. The crew counts a father, a mother, a grandmother and a grandfather. One and only one grandson doesn't mind the decision to stay moored at dock and tuck into the picnic basket. Artie, the grandson, counts the bluegill that rise to gulp breadcrumbs chummed on the lake, feathered by a steady, light breeze that chills my left cheek. It would be a good day if the pontoon were a sailboat. "The boat is sick", explains the captain to the boy. As the captain has observed, the county has no one assigned to collect a put-in fee and the family has Lake Lansing to themselves. So why not stay at the launch dock. The guy who quickly put in a kayak doesn't count, the owner of two bikes he keeps in his white van. Maybe he lives in the van down by the river, traveling from watershed to watershed, living to cycle and kayak his way across the country, a retirement pursuit. The aluminum fishing boat filled to the gunnels with lake grass has been hauled home by its owner, who had to replace two wheels on his trailer that went flat while he harvested weed. I looked at the sargasso he had collected as he hooked trailer up to his truck. It wasn't water milfoil he had pulled from the waters the way volunteers eradicate garlic mustard by hand at Fenner Arboretum. I had to ask. Maybe he was mulching. "That smelly weed is going into my warehouse". I offered to help him get his trailer hooked up but he said, "I got this. I'm good". The unknown owner has yet to collect a Sunfish sailboat pulled up on the sand. I spotted the craft in the mist when the park opened at Six this morning because its captain had left the sail up. Sailors rarely leave a sail up and make a ritual out of dropping their sails and folding the canvas. Spiders, unlike sailors, leave up their canvases. Between the posts of the wooden fishing dock, a web had been strung, a final hammock for unlucky flying insects. A breed of tiny mosquito found in Lansing has attacked my ear lobes and elbows quite effectively, abdomens filling with blood before there's time to swat, but not yet this morning. I didn't see any no see-ums sucked dry by spiders in the mist webs and nothing would have made me happier. The sun has burned away an overcast, partly cloudy making for wave shadows and sun dappling of the shade.

Italian full-rigged ship Amerigo Vespucci in New York Harbor, 1976

Rear Admiral Harley D. Nygren, NOAA Corps (ret.) - NOAA's America's Coastlines Collection

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