A View from the North Shore: 'Spring will come when it's ready'
From the column: "It’s a privilege to experience the ravages and challenges of this winter of old. We are grateful to be able to keep the virus at bay and to remain a safe distance from the wolf that periodically wanders through the yard."
A gale from the southwest is driving ice floes across our shoreline like commuters on a freeway on their way to work. The winds are a constant howl, probing the old timbers of our cabin for weaknesses, trying to suck whatever heat they can into frigid space. The wood-burning fireplace and COMO’s propane are doing their best to hold the line in this battle with an old-fashioned winter here on the North Shore.
We’ve returned for another sequestering, fleeing a variant of COVID-19, hopefully less threatening than last year when we wintered over at our 70-year-old cabin.
When we were younger, I would have gone out excitedly to feel the push of wind and whirl of snow in order to take pictures and videos to show extended family and friends in warmer climes how tough we were. Now, in our 70s, not so much. Instead, we hunker down by the fire and largely watch it all through double-paned, gas-filled Marvin windows.
We love winter but admit to jealousy as we Zoom with friends who escaped to Phoenix or the Caribbean this winter. I’m still proud of our pictures of ice, snow, and driving winds, but theirs of palm trees, blue skies, and chairs by shimmering pools are starting to win out. Even bragging of the minus-41 air temperature not far from here was not particularly satisfying.
We had planned a cruise to Hawaii this winter, naively believing, like so many others, that the COVID-19 shadow was passing. Instead, it’s come up with an unexpected variation, much like Lucy and the football in Peanuts, reminding us that she can’t be trusted. We canceled the trip out of caution — wisely.
To comfort ourselves, we decided to get another dog, a companion for our 14-pounder, Mr. Perkins, who still misses the Cavalier, Sallie, who passed last spring. We named her Kona, hoping she would provide some connection to Hawaii. What were we thinking?
Like needing to have children while you are young, it’s important to remember that house-breaking (in this case cabin-breaking) requires patience and fortitude, qualities that seem to retreat with age. We do love the little, brown-eyed girl, but taking her out into below-zero, driven winds, and snow has diluted the allure of an expanded personal kennel. We are in it for the long haul, but we see that it will be a longer haul than anticipated. Unlike grandkids, she can’t be sent home after a few days.
Still, the dogs are comforting, providing companionship that can be limited here on the North Shore in the depths and darkness of winter. We are again the old couple whose bright spots in the weeks are trips to town for groceries and dog food. We do sing praises for those technicians who tunneled cabling through ledge rock, enabling binges of British murder mysteries and “Seinfeld” and “Monk” reruns — and, of course, the Olympics!
No regrets for being here. It’s a privilege to experience the ravages and challenges of this winter of old. We are grateful to be able to keep the virus at bay and to remain a safe distance from the wolf that periodically wanders through the yard.
Spring will come when it’s ready. Meanwhile, it’s time to don my parka, turn on my headlamp, and see if Kona remembers her spot by the fir tree.
Steven M. Lukas is retired after a career in business and education. He and his extended family divide their time between the Twin Cities and Schroeder.