I hooted for joy on three seperate occasions yesterday.
“Hoot” might not be the right word, but it was something along those lines - spontaneous, wordless expressions of euphoria. And loud.
My progression was up and up and up, all day. But I was Icarus. I rose too high. So I had to fall.
A fall that I’m still recovering from, right now, as I wait for the sun to rise over Lake Superior.
I pour a coffee. The sun, orange, pops up over the blue horizon. Just as suddenly, Sputnik is glowing, pink, from the inside.
Let’s start with yesterday morning. I woke up and wrote, just as I’m doing right now. That was great.
Later in the morning, I took two video calls at Falling Rocks Cafe & Bookstore. For me, that’s a huge deal. Besides having phone calls with J on a daily basis, these were my first “work meetings” in over a month. Maybe two. Wait. Lord. Come to think of it, maybe three. I’ve been quite enjoying my meet-free life, so this gives me a lot to think about.
I do two or three bursts of work that last no more than two to three hours each. So, a light day is four hours and a huge day is nine. The best part is that I never know in advance if it’s going to be a big day or a light day. And it never feels like work because I’m usually itching to get to it. Or I’m not, so I don’t. Believe it or not, the weather has a huge impact on my overall productivity, which is great, because it’s out of my control.
Yesterday, between burst two and three, I sauntered to the Munising Farmer’s and Artisan’s Market where I met about a dozen beautiful souls, including a photographer named Kim and a potter named Bill who had a long, perfectly-braided grey ponytail. Four bucks felt fair for some extraordinarily photogenic bok choy and a big head of lettuce.
My last work burst happened at the Munising Public Library. Upon emerging, Sputnik looked so wonderful in the late afternoon sun, against the backdrop of Lake Suprior, that I snapped a few 35mm shots. Then off to Pictured Rocks National Park for the third time in three days to run, swim, re-recalibrate and relax.
The run was spectacular. I started at Sand Point and headed up the North Country Trail to Miners Castle, knowing I wouldn’t make it all the way, free to turn around whenever I felt like it. The lake was turquoise. The light was gold. Sweat was pouring and endorphins were flowing. Three or four miles out, just as I was wondering when to turn around, I stepped into wet mud, fully submerged my left foot, and then fully submerged my right one while lifting myself out. At that exact moment, thunder boomed. It was time to turn around.
The return was wild and radical. Thunder, intermittent rain, dark clouds and lightening across the waterscape. That’s where I let out my first big howl. It was basically a yodel, fairly high pitched, across Lake Superior. God knows if anyone heard me. It felt great.
When I made it back to the beach where Sputnik was parked, there was no doubt I had to jump in the lake. I needed to get clean. The rain was holding off and a cute couple, my age, was making dinner on a picnic table a few hundred feet away. I wasn’t trying to put on a show for them, but I wasn’t about to let them kill my vibe. So, as low-key as possible, I stripped down to my shorts and walked into the cold. Confidently. There’s a metaphor for, like, all of existence here: it takes me forever to get in cold water when nobody is watching. With a crowd, I’m a pro.
Then back to Sputnik. I built a beautiful dinner around the boy choy and lettuce - soup and salad, obviously. That’s when the downpour began. Cats and dogs. Everyone evacuated the beach, scrammed. I made tea. I read an article titled “You Are Doing Something Important When You Aren’t Doing Anything” and I thought, for the billionth time recently, I’m still ahead of the curve. So too is my company. I’ve got this.
National Parks, unfortunately, aren’t places where you can just park for the night without paying, so I had to move on. I planned to return to my spot in the woods a few miles south of town, but as soon as I turned the key in the ignition I heard the opening chords to “All Right Now,” and my brain nearly exploded. That’s when my second hoot happened. For those who don’t know (because why would you?) this is the Stanford “fight song,” so I heard it a few thousand times in college. Hearing it now is more than just a flashback. It’s time travel. I blasted it and screamed along with the lyrics, lunatic-style and, high as a kite, blew right past the turn I was supposed to take. Later Munising! Onward!! “Five, six, seven, eight, WOO!”
I rarely log serious mileage at night, but for some reason it just felt right. With that kind of energy, there was no way I was going to retire to bed. So I started heading towards Marquette - no map, no plan, just a fuckton of kinetic energy, amplified by a run on the radio that was everything I wanted it to be. Highlights included “Soul Sister” by Train, “Oh, Ricky You’re So Fine” by whoever the hell sings that one, and “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John. Count the headlights on the highway? Sir, yes sir!
Approaching midnight, still feeling high as hell but slowly returning to Earth, I pulled over at a scenic overlook. I turned off the engine. I sat, for just a moment, in utter darkness, to decide if this would be my spot for the night. I consulted my compass: I’d surely have a beautiful sunrise, that’s for sure. (And hot damn am I still enjoying that right now, as I type.) And I rehearseed my excuse should a cop come knocking: “Ah, I’m really sorry officer. I accidentally overshot Hiawatha and was just getting totally exhausted. I was just taking a quick nap.”
Then, emerging from Sputnik, I experienced The Rapture.
It was immediate. It almost knocked me over. It elicited the third of the hoots, a full-on howl, and a whole lot of laughter, a bonafide climax, higher than high. Here’s why:
I was in outer space.
I’m talking about the night sky. The stars in the Upper Peninsula are… holy shit. One of the most breathtaking things I’ve ever witnessed. I had heard about this. In fact, I was looking forward to it. But an entire week had gone by and I’m always already getting for bed soon after the sun goes down. Sometimes even before that. The days are so long this time of year and I get up super early. It has felt perfectly natural. But this is what I’ve been missing. The stars caught me like a net. I realized that I am just a thing on a thing that’s floating around in THAT. Absurd. Amazing.
And it wasn’t just the stars. Planets galore. I think I saw Mars, Mercury and Jupiter. And there was lightening across the southern horizon. And clouds - big dark spots, covering huge portions of the sky, making everything seem even more dramatic. Some of the planets were so bright that they lit the clouds from behind. It was spectacular.
I ended up standing there, in awe, for a long while. An hour. Maybe more.
And then the crash. The melting of my Icarus wings.
In my haste to experience the sky in all of it’s glory, I must have left the screen door open. Mosquitos were everywhere. And since it was pitch black, there was nothing I could do about it but retreat to my bed and try to shield myself under sheets and covers. It was hopeless. And hot as hell. I barely slept, cursed the entire trip, the RV, nature, everything.
At first light, a few hours later, I could finally begin the process of extermination by hand, which basically consists of just sitting there and waiting for individual mosquitos to float past slowly enough that I can clap them to death. Most of them exploded with blood. My blood.
I’m covered with bites, literally head to toe. I have bites around my left eye, my ankles, and, I think, all across my back.
Now it’s time for another cup of coffee and a walk on the beach. Lots to do today.
Marquette, here I come.