Michigan

Michigan Shiner

When the summer’s heat can’t get worse,
I’ll be at the beach, fully immersed.
Swimming free between lake’s surface and bottom.
Troubles? What troubles? I don’t got em’.

But during the winter’s long-winded curse,
You’ll find me with a book, fully immersed.
A curious mind, with much to learn.
Biding my time, til’ spring takes its turn.

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Tater and the Spud

“Tater” broke his arm in January. A ghastly break, broken in two places, it required a 10 inch plate and 13 screws to hold it all together. The metal will be in his left arm from now until the end of the line.

He’s almost 13. A break like this puts a crimp in the lifestyle of a Northern Michigan teenager. Whereas before he was spending all day Saturday at the local ski hill (the source of the break) with his friends, he’s now relegated to less exciting pursuits. He’s a very active kid and this has been rough.

capture

Pretty Bad Break For Aidan

With extreme boredom taking hold on Superbowl Sunday, I recommended something that we hadn’t done in years, the most boring of all Michigan winter pursuits: ice fishing. He hemmed and hawed, but eventually relented and after an hour or so of gear gathering and repair, we were off.

It wasn’t half bad. We spent two hours on Arbutus #5 and caught several pan fish and a decent sized large mouth. He asked the following Monday if we could do it again next weekend. This is the highest form of flattery to a dad of a mostly surly, teen-aged, boy. If we follow through on that, I’ll do something I should of done our last time out: take the spud bar.

The spud bar is a relic of the past. It’s a 45 pound, iron bar with a wedge at the end of it. It’s used to basically thump through the ice. It was made before the Internet, before hand augers, and definitely existed before fat fishermen with gas powered augers was a thing. It’s flat out, conceptually ridiculous in this day and age. I look at it in disbelief that I’d ever spent my free time using a mostly blunt object to pound through ice – all for the sake of potentially catching some lower invertebrates. Yet the spud still is.

Aidan had asked me to take the spud bar on our last outing, but we were in a hurry. Also, the bar is in bad shape. It had been misused on some demo projects years ago and is bent and covered in some tar like substance.

I will try to pound this iron bar somewhat flat if possible and I’ll file it sharp again and I’ll stick it in his hand so he can annoy the hell out of the other anglers (if there are any). Why would I do that? Good question.

I think the answer to “why” is because there’s just a slight chance that by giving him the chance to spud through ice with one good arm, he’ll have a small window into a past that has disappeared with an amazing ferocity.

Hardly anyone ice fishes anymore. In fact, the last Sunday we were out, I was sure that we were experiencing Global Warming in February as there was no one on the ice. No shanties, no fishermen, nobody. I was sure no one was out due to two inches of ice and we were going for a cold swim. This was not the case, the ice was 6 inches thick.

If people are still up for ice fishing, they sure don’t spud through the ice anymore. They have hand augers or power augers and these tools perfectly complement their pop-up shanties, fish finders, GPS and whatever other gadget you can think of in this, the Cadillac present.

I hope he does follow through on going fishing with me again and I will put that spud in his hand this time. When he chunks at the ice, with his one good arm, and his teeth rattle, he’ll have a glimpse into the way it used to be. If nothing else, it will reinforce the notion: pops is crazy.

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Arbutus #5 at Sunset, Hopelessly Lost in Winter

A Thankful Fish

The wind spurred the waves’ crest,
Dockside, five, in a giant vest.
Lifted into the cold St. Clair,
Sure glad you were standing there.

In a row boat,
On a small, numbered lake.
We would float,
And we would wait.

Sometimes we would ply
Big waters, glass eyes.
The prop, eaten by kelp,
Had you screaming for help.

The perch runs on Breast Bay,
Walleye season in May.
Bucket sitting, paying a price:
Feet become one with the ice.

Dad, you were far from a perfect being,
But we all have facets, is the thing.
Thanks for the line, thanks for the hook.
Thank you, mostly, for the time you took.

Spearamus

Rolling a rock called hope,
Forever uphill.
Is this how you cope?
Or is it iron will?

You threw all your change,
In a wishing well.
But nothing changed
From what I can tell.

Promises, for those on your path,
Tragedies in the grapes of wrath.
Pain ripples in concentric rings.
Coins in a well called
“Hoping for better things”.

Winter Spans

Steel grey days, that splay
In an indiscernible way.
Purgatory is Michigan winter.

Life buried beneath the freeze,
Barren trees, more barren trees,
You heave the heft in winter.

Cold bridge, car in a wreck,
Weather breaks your mother’s neck.
Our hearts as barren and bereft
As a goddamned, endless winter.

Yet here I am, decades later, 
Middle aged Michigan man,
Still haven’t crossed that bridge
Or jumped the span.

Cross Town

Boardman

Had a good home,
City by the bays.
Couldn’t make ends meet,
Had to move away.

Stuck in rut,
Out here on the road.
Feeling down,
Feeling low.

Started thinking about

A west wind blowing,
The Boardman flowing,
On a sweet, summer day.

The cherries growing,
Smiling faces glowing,
Showing me the way.

Traverse Town.
Please take me home.
To Traverse Town.
Never more to roam.

Winter time
Was never the reason.
Cause Lord knows
I’d be freezing.

Come summer time,
Joy and mirth.
Summers there:
Heaven on earth.

Still thinking about

A west wind blowing,
The Boardman flowing,
On a sweet, summer day.

The cherries growing,
Smiling faces glowing,
Showing me the way.

Traverse Town.
Please take me home.
To Traverse Town.
Never more to roam.

“The Great Crossing
Marquette did denote.
As the waves were tossing
His birch bark boat.

But the waves don’t seem
That rough to me.
And in my dreams
And memories I see…

A west wind blowing,
The Boardman flowing,
On a sweet, summer day.

The cherries growing,
Smiling faces glowing,
Showing me the way.

Traverse Town.
Please take me home.
To Traverse Town.
Never more to roam.