Just as the Great Lakes affect the weather, they also affect the lives ofthose immediately around them. Men who wouldn’t be seen in Chicago inanything less than a suit-and-tie walk around in swim trunks all day longwith a towel around their shoulders. Librarians read trashy novels anduntie their bikini top while deeply tanning. Kids stand a mile out in theshallow water, their upper bodies sticking out of the water as they discussweighty issues such as whether Bobby thinks you’re cute.
Time moves slowly, marked by being in the water, sunning, reading, orsleeping. Cool breezes off the lake make the daytime tolerable. Nights aresultry as like a Tennessee Williams play. Naked bodies toss on scatteredsheets in the still air, seeking a cooler spot on which to rest.
This is how my Fourth passed in Frankfort Michigan, day by day. We read,talked, and swam a little. Dan rented a windsurfer, and taught me how touse it. He spent days sailing back and forth across the bay, balancingagainst the pull of the wind and the roll of the waves.
Yesterday Dan and I blew up $90 worth of fireworks I bought back in Wyoming.The shells flew high and burst wonderfully, each one different. We’d nevershot off fireworks before. The last and biggest mortar shot off sevenshells in succession, each one bursting in two colors. It was amazinglyfun. Dan, who was worried beforehand about the legal aspects of fireworksin Michigan, started sounding like a pyromaniac looking for his next fix.
Today we parted, Dan flying westwards to San Francisco, and me driving northinto Ontario via Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced Sue Saint Marie.) As Dan flewover South Dakota and struggled to figure out his life, I drove west on theTrans-Canadian and struggled to stay awake. (I got up this morning at 6 am,an unnatural time for me.)
Ten miles into Canada, there was a moose warning on one side of the road,and a beaver dam on the other. This, to me, said ‘Canada!’ more than thecustoms lady asking “What’s this trip all abooot?” A few miles down theroad, I passed a mother raccoon and two kits, all road kill. I came acrosssimilar family massacres twice more today. There were also dozens ofsquished porcupines. In the numerous ponds I’ve passed, I’ve spotted a fewloons.
The difference from Michigan is amazing. The landscape in Michigan is flatand sandy. Here, it’s rolling hills and rocky. Michigan is covered withdeciduous trees, while Ontario is coniferous. I think that myFrench-Canadian background gives me a natural preference for the northlands. It’s beautiful here, a land of ponds and forests, with a small townevery 80 km (50 miles).
Tonight I’m in Schreiber, Ontario. It’s a big province, I’m painfullytired, and tomorrow I hope to make it to Lake of the Woods. I’m going tosleep.