Mary Beth Writes

Here’s why I’ve not posted anything in nearly two weeks.

Last week Len and I took a trip to Duluth, MN and Ashland, WI. We hiked seven hikes, met new friends, ate too much. (We didn’t eat IN restaurants. We ate take-out dinners while sitting in our car overlooking Chequamegon Bay.) We marinated in the breezy Up North rhythms of woods, streams, rivers, and Lake Superior. 

Then we came home to all that stuff one does up returning; laundry, groceries, and bringing in the Big Dozers to deal with cat litter boxes. 

Monday I did a lot of catching up. Tuesday Michol and I drove 15 boxes of books (donated by a friend of Michol) from Waukesha to the Racine AAUW sale. I have decided my street name is Book Coyote, since my secret hustle is to ferry books safely across the border. (I’ll tell you more about the AAUW book sale for women’s scholarships soon.)

My right shoulder has been ached the past month so I saw my P.A. (Physician’s Assistant) yesterday. She says they are seeing a lot of this exact complaint! People at their computers, reading books, sitting around without proper arm support. I always knew that sooner or later I’d get a reading injury and here I am.  Upcoming physical therapy appointments are scheduled.

My P.A. asked if I would like to get my Covid booster plus a flu shot. Okay, that sounds exciting.  No side effects yesterday. Today I am sore at both injection sites and I’m extra tired but Ibuprofen and naps help. For all the drama vaccinations have become, the experience is generally undramatic.

Anyway, this is where I was.

I posted quite a few photos from our trip on my Instagram account. I’m mbdanielson and my icon is my face behind two green leaves. Feel free to follow me.  Warning: I post a lot of photos of cats. 

Our Trip Up North

I read this book back in February and then wrote about it. The book is Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. This is the post: https://www.marybethdanielson.com/content/two-books-one-movie-reviews-me-2242021

“There is this: We know ourselves via the language that we speak. English is mostly nouns, with about 30% verbs. Ojibwe is 70% verbs. Much of English is about delineating gender. Anishinaabe doesn’t divide the world into sex.

Anishinaabe DOES describe the world according to the nature and properties of how things are changing, moving, growing, or interconnecting to something else. The example she uses is that a bay of water is not a bay. The Ojibwe word for bay is translated to a VERB meaning “to be a bay.” As if it might be something else tomorrow, which since a bay is filled with water, it might be. The bay is not the static noun where three sides of land are filled with water. A bay is the moving interconnection of trees, water entering from streams and springs, water moving outward to the lake or river, the interconnected life that happens in and around a bay. The bay is animate.

What Wall Kimmerer learns is that her native language not about what things are now, but about how things are connected. One does not own things. One is in a relationship for a day or a lifetime and the language speaks to that.

Most of the Christian theology and worldview we have been raised in is linear and future oriented.  We claim our faith because it promises us heaven when we die, which helps us endure so much of what we experience in our lives. We learn to make lists, think ahead, have a plan, work hard towards our goals. We “share our faith” by giving others the tools we think we couldn’t live without. Like how to make a list and have a plan. 

But what if we back away from seeing our world as on it’s way to being some other reality than it is today?

What if we understand the point and purpose of our lives in not a tidy funeral and well-provisioned kids?

What if we stop in our tracks and look around? What do we see? Where are we?

These questions were in me last week. Specifically, right here, watching the sun sparkle on Lake Superior. The lake was rustling and whooshing. Breezes moved through the pines trees. It smelled fresh and perfect. I could feel that nothing was a noun; air and water was moving all around me and the molecules of me were part of everything that was moving and swirling and changing.

We hiked around Gooseberry Falls, watched the river tumble over five waterfalls and then keep pushing and falling over the basalt rocks. Northern Ash dazzled with three colors of leaves all at. 

It helps to be old to think thoughts like these. When you are young you have to make sandwiches and find the restrooms and keep the toddlers from falling in the water and buy stuff in the giftshop. I liked those trips, too.

 

Gooseberry Falls State Park is 40 miles north of Duluth

We’ve hiked the Houghton Falls hike every time we have been to Ashland. It’s just a bit north of Washburn, there’s a sign on Highway 13 that says where to turn.

One parks in the small lot, walk along a plank path through the woods until you are suddenly right next to a deep ravine cut into the topography. (There were two kinds of rock there a bazillion years and the fluffier rock washed away.) At the bottom of the protected ravine there is a bubbling stream that flows over several small waterfalls.  Keep walking along the ravine and suddenly Lake Superior spreads out in front of you.

This hike we started commenting to each other, “What’s going on here? Why are all these trees broken? Was there a derecho this summer? There are broken trees in the ravine but not very much water. The little waterfalls are nearly kaput. There is some stagnant water over there.”

This is what I looked like a year ago:

This is what it looked like last week:

This is what it looked like this year. Global climate change is everywhere. 

...

We had a lovely trip. We avoided contracting Delta Covid by eating meals in our car instead of in restaurants.  We saw old and new places and one was very different due to a long drought and a fast storm.

here are a few more photos.

 

 

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Comments

Leonard's picture

Keeps you from seeing things the same way, time after time. It was good to see how Houghton Falls had changed, and it was also good to see how we had changed (a little more stiff and sore going up stairs) since the last time we were there. And, finally, good to see if we were still a little bit changed when we pulled back into our own garage.

Loved all the pictures. Your vacation sounds relaxing and serene. I always admire you both. All the hiking you do ! Healthy living!
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks! Hah, we did all that hiking and then came home and slept...

Thank you!!!!
Mary Beth's picture

Anonymous, I missed you! Thank you...

You wild and crazy woman!! That's what you get for reading so dangerously.
Mary Beth's picture

Made me laugh out loud.. thanks!

I love it - a reading injury!!

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