Life in a Northern Town

Long Island On Skis & Through Snowflakes

We booked across the bay last year (pictures here) but this year, we decided to book it LICC-style and headed out to Long Island for a winter version of Long Island Cocktail Club. Charly, the LICC czar, decreed the ice was safe, the island was accessible and we were bad-ass enough to get ourselves, some tequila, hot dogs, brats, 5 kids and 2 dogs over to Long for an afternoon adventure. It's been cold, I'm talking sub-zero temperatures for many, many days in a row, and there was 20 + inches of ice under our skis as we ventured across the frozen bay— towards one of our favorite summer spots. 

We skied for nearly 3 miles out to the island but it was easy on the snow-covered ice. It was quiet but not still— the wind picked up and a few snowflakes started to fall right before we got to camp. I stopped and took it all in— the darkening sky, the shards of ice breaching the snow field, George and Zeus running up and down the trail and the faint wisp of smoke from the camp Charly set up. It was amazing to approach the point on skis, instead of pulling up in the Karl. The lake and the island seemed to be one, the normal beach and water boundary buried under an seemless white blanket.

Smoke from the chimney was a welcome sight— Charlie and I were thinking about the Sixth Street Market brats I packed for lunch. Skiing, even over flat surfaces, awakens a fierce hunger around lunch-time and we quickened our pace as we got closer to camp.

Skis and snowmobiles on the shore instead of boats and paddle boards.

A mid-winter island version of a sugar bush margarita (recipe here), complete with snow, instead of ice. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about using a handful of snow (instead of ice) but it turns out the million of people who like their margaritas blended weren't wrong— slushy margaritas are seriously good.

A snow-filled nest in a tree— proof that spring always unseats winter and will be here soon enough.

Pine branches— useful for drying out winter jackets or beach towels...depending on the temperature.

The building material may change but the shoveling, digging and stacking are the same, in 20 degrees or 80 degrees.  

George and Zeus— true canine joy and enthusiasm.

I walked down the shore a little bit with the dogs (George was in danger of making a move on the Oreos) and stumbled upon these ice draped branches. Crystal clear, pure water is everywhere up here— no small miracle in a world full of expansion, extraction and over-burdened landscapes.

The eagle's nest we discovered last year— quiet on a snowy winter's afternoon.

Another sign of last year's summer days and a harbinger of warmth, waiting in the wings.

George wanted to know if he had to walk back to the car or if he could hitch a ride in the sled. Turns out, dogs always walk back to the beach, regardless if they are out of shape and accustomed to the front seat with the seat heater cranking.

Not only did this little stove heat up the brats and hot dogs, it cranked out enough heat to warm our bodies, ski boots and mittens.

The snow began to fall in earnest and we strapped on our skis and headed west, across the lake towards the Sioux Beach and home.

Some of our crew had the foresight to either a) not bring skis, thereby ensuring a ride or b) to be a child capable of a fair amount of complaining about skiing back, thereby ensuring a ride to the beach. Either way, Charly and crew went ahead of us and as the sound of the engine died out, the muffled quiet of the falling snow filled my ears. It was a long but beautiful ski back to the beach— white in every direction and a frozen Lake Superior under my feet.

Snowy Night

Last night, an owl in the blue dark tossed an indeterminate number of carefully shaped sounds into the world, in which, a quarter of a mile away, I happened to be standing. I couldn’t tell which one it was – the barred or the great-horned ship of the air – it was that distant. But, anyway, aren’t there moments that are better than knowing something, and sweeter? Snow was falling, so much like stars filling the dark trees that one could easily imagine its reason for being was nothing more than prettiness. I suppose if this were someone else’s story they would have insisted on knowing whatever is knowable – would have hurried over the fields to name it – the owl, I mean. But it’s mine, this poem of the night, and I just stood there, listening and holding out my hands to the soft glitter falling through the air. I love this world, but not for its answers. And I wish good luck to the owl, whatever its name – and I wish great welcome to the snow, whatever its severe and comfortless and beautiful meaning.

Mary Oliver