Laying in the hammock under a mid afternoon rain, almost wishing I had pushed off this morning. The weather forecast called for a lot more than this.
Yesterday was my first day on the water in two and a half days, and prior to that I’d only paddled about 25 miles in a week, having spent a few days camping with friends at Pictured Rocks, and a couple of nights at the beautiful lakeside cabin of friends Pat and Quint.
My friends Karen and Perry were staying at their favorite state forest campground, which I won’t name as I don’t want to wreck it for them. The forecast then was similar to today’s, so I took refuge at their site. They have a little “Cozy Traveller” trailer, and I pitched my hammock nearby, between a couple of tall pines. It was the best hanging yet. Perfect height to sit, pull off my boots, and swing into horizontal. Foot end just enough higher than head end so I didn’t slide down. Other trees conveniently located to tie off the tarp corners, and a taut pitch angled just right so rain wouldn’t pool. And rain it did. Bobcats and coyotes, thunder and lightening. Laying in the hammock the night of the storm, before the rain came, it was so dark I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. Eyes open or closed, the view was the same.
When I wasn’t laying around, I was either eating grilled trout or French toast or summer squash and corn that Karen had cooked up. Or drinking wine from a bottle one of their high end friends had given them.
I jumped into the lake once. The water temp was about 62, and the air about 63. It was exquisite. I was a bit bummed, though, because my little bottle of Campsuds went missing. Must have floated out of my shorts’ pocket when I was rinsing off. Perry and I looked along the water’s edge and beach, but couldn’t spot it. I hate it when a bit of kit goes missing.
Afterwards a beach walker stopped to chat. She was wearing a short turquoise blue shift, a small cloth pack on her back, and her thick white hair in a long braid. She had seen Seaweed, and the the names of the lakes stenciled on the hull.
“You’re on quite a journey, aren’t you?” she said.
“Yes. Trying to get around all the Great Lakes. Are you a paddler?”
“No,” she said, “I sail with friends, mostly around the Apostles. I was hoping to be in the North Channel of Lake Huron on a trip now, but I got sick.”
It crossed my mind to ask if she was friends with Roy and Jeremy, two guys on a sailboat in the Apostles I talked with about a month ago. I was crossing from Madeline Island to Long Island, and they were floating offshore of the old lighthouse, deciding whether to land and brave the flies for which Long Island is infamous. Their boat, Sea Jay, was a wooden beauty. The thought passed, though, and she asked me which places around the lakes I found the most beautiful.
“Right here is one of them,” I said.
I asked her if I could take her photo, and she said yes. Then I had her write her name in the little yellow waterproof notebook my coworkers gave me when I left Harbor House Publishers.
“Hey, these are my sailing buddies!”
She was pointing in the book at Roy and Jeremy’s names. I had taken their photos, too.
Big lake, small world.
She said her name is “Tibby”. I got the spelling, “Tibi”, when I looked in my notebook. Her last name is “Light”.
I like it. Makes me wish I’d followed through years ago and changed my last name to “Sky”.
Tibi stopped by our site the evening of my second day at Campground X. We learned she was a couple of weeks from finishing a program that would qualify her to be an occupational therapist. Perry said he’d seen a few of them over his lifetime with scoliosis, and they discussed how he copes with chronic pain. Beer and University of Michigan football have been the best remedy so far.
Just after Tibi headed off down the dirt road to her camp, I asked Karen and Perry if it would be all right to invite her to dinner. They said sure, and I took off down the road after her. She’s a fast walker, and it took a few minutes to catch her.
“Are you sure?” she asked. “Will there be enough for all of you?”
I assured her we had plenty, and she gratefully accepted. Something was wrong with her stove, and she hadn’t been able to cook all weekend. We walked to her site so she could zip up her tent and put some things in her car.
“Do you need any shampoo?” she asked. “I was looking for rocks this afternoon about a mile up the beach and found a bottle.”
On the corner of her picnic table was my little bottle of green Campsuds, “shampoo”, in Ruth’s handwriting, in marker on the side.
Big Lake, magical world.