Mary Beth Writes

I adore the Niagara Escarpment and you probably do, too.

A while back Len and I spent a gorgeous afternoon hiking in Wisconsin’s High Cliff State Park (on the upper right side of Lake Winnebago). A sign near the parking lot informed us that the impressive cliffs at the edge of the lake and through the woods and under the Indian mounds that are there, are the edge of an ancient sea that covered much of the middle of North America. That rim of limestone, as you can plainly see on the map, creates a limestone rainbow in the middle of North America. Len and I have occasionally talked about a “dream trip” around the Niagara Escarpment. The afternoon we hiked on Manitoulin Island we realized we were doing exactly that.

See where the red line goes through a lacey mess of islands between the upper peninsula and Ontario?  That is a wild and beautiful conglomeration of big islands, little ones, swampy peninsulas, and sparkling rivers finding their way to Lake Huron.

I knew Manitoulin and Mackinaw islands (the Ottawa called it Michilimackinac, which I can’ pronounce). These sizeable islands were places where First Nation people would meet to trade what they had grown or gathered and to negotiate problems and maintain peace.  These two islands were to northern Indians and the first European immigrants what Sicily and Crete were to the people who plied the Mediterranean.  Places everyone passed by, stopped in, caught up on the news, learned parts of each other’s languages.

The “Cup and Saucer Trail” is a somewhat famous hiking trail on Manitoulin.  We decided to hike up to its famous cliffs overlooking miles and miles of lake and woods. 

We never made it.  Canada doesn’t go out of their way to make their parks accessible. We hiked an hour, made it up several runs of “steps” which are outcroppings of rocks one scrambles up. I’d already done two of these crazy climbs on my butt and knees while hanging on to side rocks with my hands.  Len is more agile than me but even he was surprised at that 10-foot rise that we were supposed to scramble up next. Disappointed, but not fools, we turned around. 

Still, we hiked nearly two hours on a skinny, rocky path in an ancient forest. It was stunning, though next time I want to stand ON the Niagara Escarpment for a long view, I’m going back to High Cliff.

Here are some of our pix from that day.

This was one of the easier places to climb up ...

That's the limestone escarpment, peeking out.

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Quarantine Diary #312

“You know me, I think there ought to be a big old tree right there. And let's give him a friend. Everybody needs a friend.” ― Bob Ross

This tree lives in Waukesha and stopped me in my tracks when I was out for a walk.

...

 When will this Quarantine Diary end? When Len and I drive out not wearing masks to go to a place where we will stay overnight. Just letting you know. FYI we started last year on Friday the 13th of March.

 …

Quarantine Diary #308 1/15/2021

My life is pretty fine, and I bet yours is, too. Warm place to live. Food to eat. Friends to share and laugh with - even if we have to do it via Zoom.

At the same time, who isn’t feeling anxiety and dread? Will the white supremacist insurrectionist knobs attack the inaugural? Will they screw up state capitols and infrastructure? One lone guy blew up Nashville a mere three weeks ago. What the hell is going on?

Quarantine Diary #307 Brain Names

Remember when there was no autism? Sure, there were kids in our schools who were weirdly able to remember stuff, or were hard to control, or whose emotions triggered at the oddest time. We generally ignored those kids. Those of us who were kind did, anyways. Others bullied. 

Remember the mopey kids in high school who knew too much about depressing art and angsty music and sometimes killed themselves?

Quarantine Diary #306 Hunched Over & Paying Attention

I am going to write some Quarantine Diary entries again. There’s a lot going on and sometimes it helps to hear a small voice as well as the big voices of journalists, pundits, networks, the other public media we follow.

I have had a small headache off and on for days. I worried that I might have contracted Covid, except dang it, I haven’t gone anywhere! And then, thinking about it, I realized I am hunched over my phone much more than usual. These mild on-again, off-again headaches are from eyestrain and weird posture.

Rime and Treason

These photos were taken by Len on Monday in that other time and world that existed before the Trump gorgons mobbed the Capitol. (Gorgons existed in Greek literature. Gorgons are the poisonous siblings with hair of living snakes. Those who beheld them face-to-face turned to stone. Or were killed by being beaten by a fire extinguisher.)

I have been trying to write about that but it is too hard. There is so much that is clear and is informative. You are reading it as much as I am. Blessed be the journalists, right? 

Quarantine Diary #292 New Year's Eve

Many of us feel as if we are in limbo until Biden takes office. I don’t think you need me to say a lot about how long and hard this year has been; we’ve been in this dentist’s chair together.

But...

Did you see how many days quarantine has lasted? 292 days.

So far.

This week I read a remarkable essay. On Natural Landscapes, Metaphorical Living, and Warlpiri Identity, by Barry Lopez. https://lithub.com/. Life is weird. The day after I read it, Mr. Lopez died.

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