Isle Royale: Tobin Harbor Storm

Categories: Artist Residencies in National Parks, Isle Royale NP, Lake Superior, Observations, Upper Michigan | Kathleen M. Heideman | December 12, 2009

Earlier this week, the snow arrived, ushering in the season’s first blizzard. On the last day of good driving weather, I drove up to Houghton (aka the copper buckle on the snow-belt of Upper Michigan) and delivered my donation to Isle Royale National Park, in gratitude for last summer’s absolutely *sublime* artist residency. I had a hard time deciding which watercolor from my residency to donate, but stopped in Houghton back in September, and showed the whole portfolio to Greg Blust, Supervisory Park Ranger and Coordinator of the Isle Royale National Park Artist-in-Residence program. He selected this one himself! (I sense he is a fellow storm-lover.)



Isle Royale: Tobin Harbor Storm

I also donated a poem from my residency: “This Urge to Remain in Lake Superior, Forever.” Everything about the residency was incredible. When my month was up, it was already after Labor Day… and I found I wanted to stay until the last few Park Service employees left the island, in October. I love seeing cabins battened down, snug against winter of storms. I am already making tentative plans to return — perhaps to do some backpack camping, or perhaps as a park volunteer, repairing cabins? If so, I look forward to giving a reading and slideshow on the Ranger III, enroute, and sharing the residency program with fellow Isle Royale travelers.

The Minstrel was infirm and old….

Categories: Books, Evidence, Lake Superior, Upper Michigan | Kathleen M. Heideman | December 10, 2009

The Minstrel was infirm and old….

This is an illustration from The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott (published by Thomas Y. Crowell & Company, NY, 1888). Quotation is from the first stanza of Scott’s epic poem “The Lay of the Last Minstrel.”

The Lay of the Last Minstrel

The way was long, the wind was cold,
The Minstrel was infirm and old;
His withered cheeks and tresses gray
Seem’d to have known a better day;
The harp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy.
The last of all the Bards was he,
who sung of Border chivalry;
For welladay! their date was fled,
His tuneful brethren all were dead;
And he, neglected and opress’d,
Wish’d to be with them, and at rest.
(……)

This image pairs well with our current weather advisory:

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MARQUETTE MI
435 PM EST THU DEC 10 2009

…LAKE EFFECT SNOW CONTINUES FOR WESTERLY WIND SNOWBELTS…

.A STRONG STORM SYSTEM MOVING INTO QUEBEC WILL PRODUCE HEAVY LAKE
EFFECT SNOWS THROUGH FRIDAY NEAR LAKE SUPERIOR IN WESTERLY FAVORED
LAKE EFFECT SNOW BELTS. AWAY FROM THE LAKE EFFECT SNOWS…WIND CHILL
VALUES ACROSS THE WESTERN HALF OF UPPER MICHIGAN WILL FALL TO 15
TO 30 BELOW ZERO TONIGHT THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING.
MIZ004-005-009>013-110545-
/O.CON.KMQT.WC.Y.0005.091211T0300Z-091211T1600Z/
BARAGA-MARQUETTE-GOGEBIC-IRON-DICKINSON-MENOMINEE-DELTA-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF…L’ANSE…GWINN…MARQUETTE…IRONWOOD…
IRON RIVER…IRON MOUNTAIN…MENOMINEE…ESCANABA…GLADSTONE
435 PM EST THU DEC 10 2009 /335 PM CST THU DEC 10 2009/
…WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 10 PM EST /9 PM
CST/ THIS EVENING TO 11 AM EST /10 AM CST/ FRIDAY…

A WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 10 PM EST /9 PM CST/
THIS EVENING TO 11 AM EST /10 AM CST/ FRIDAY.

* VERY LOW WIND CHILLS LATE THIS EVENING THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING.

* TEMPERATURES FALLING TO 5 BELOW TO 10 BELOW ZERO TONIGHT INTO
EARLY FRIDAY IN COMBINATION WITH A WEST WIND AROUND 10 MPH WILL
PRODUCE WIND CHILL VALUES OF 15 BELOW ZERO TO 30 BELOW ZERO.

* THE VERY LOW WIND CHILLS COULD LEAD TO FROST BITE OR HYPOTHERMIA
IF PRECAUTIONS ARE NOT TAKEN.

Long Winter Shadows

Categories: Books, Evidence | Kathleen M. Heideman | December 10, 2009

Page from the book “Adventures in Science with Bob and Don” by Harry Carpenter, Guy Bailey and Bernice Stroetzel (Allyn and Bacon, 1940). Our recent blizzard-weather finds me anxiously anticipating solstice! It is good to know that we are almost at the turning point — just eleven more days.  After that, each day will deliver a few extra moments of light.

This morning, in the dark, shoveling a path to the garage door for D., I found myself reciting “I don’t believe we need to know what below zero feels like” — this is a wintry line from a poem by my mentor, Jim Moore (from his book Lightning at Dinner, published by Graywolf Press in 2005):

I Don’t Think We Need To Know
Jim Moore

I don’t believe we need to know what below zero feels like.
Or why we die: that, too, I don’t think we need to know.
Why life is hard? I think not.

It’s hot inside, it’s cold out:
that’s already a lot to know. That love comes and goes,
that we grow old slowly and then suddenly not.

It helps to know that snow is a god fallen to earth.
Sometimes it helps to let in the world a bit:
some wind, a few flakes, the sound of ice cracking.

Stars, for reasons we’ll never know, help show us
who on earth we are and how to bear it here and how
far away we are from knowing why we are small.

Who knows why we love or why we die,
or what exactly wonder is,
demanding that I touch it as if it were the beloved

and I the young bride, believing.