Monday, March 17, 2008

The Tides of March

I saw the first ship of the season on the Lake this weekend, the Mesabi Miner headed to Marquette (wondered if I could hitch a ride since taking the bus to Marquette now involves a 20 hour scenic tour of Minnesota and Wisconsin). I enjoy watching them, wouldn't mind working on them, but I'd rather watch the Ice.

I sometimes feel like a critter who hibernates in the summer; I'm encountering more people on my Lakewalks as temperatures rise and snow melts and I'm getting wearier, sleepier without the recharging effect of those cold solitary hours. The creek trails I used to walk every day have been overrun by people who feel no need to obey leash laws, and sick of encounters with charging barking dogs I gave up those hikes a couple years ago.

Government, industry, and land/animal exploiters always said that radical environmentalists and animal liberators would lead to someone getting shot. They were right. Paul Watson, head of Sea Shepherd, got shot by someone on a Japanese ship but was ok due to his bullet-proof vest. Disclaimer: Though I don't think whalers or the Japanese Coast Guard are above this act by any means, I also wouldn't be totally shocked if this turns out to be a publicity stunt by Watson. But more importantly, due to the efforts of Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace, Japanese whalers killed only about half of the whales they intended to kill this season.

Have been reading some Thoreau natural history and longing for those woods and my walks in them. Also reading my encyclopedia (still on A), making more frequent visits to check on the peregrine falcons downtown,
thinning my possessions, temping and interviewing a bit, and happily eating penne with asparagus, basil and olive oil. Received an update that Cassie the cow continues to do well listening to harp music.

Dan Fogelberg died back in December and I didn't really feel much about it. Although I never saw him live and stopped buying his music decades ago,
back in the mid 70s when I was going to college in Illinois his music was omnipresent in the dorms as it was his home state. As I traveled back and forth between Illinois and Boston, I sang along to "It looks like you're gonna have to see me again, Illinois." I still have those early albums and they bring me back to those people and places, but when I listened to one of his greatest hits collections last week, it was a couple of his later songs, one about his father and the other about a chance meeting with an old lover which tugged at the heart and memories the most.

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how.
(Dan Fogelberg, Same Old Lang Syne)

The other big running into an ex song from the 70s for me was by Harry Chapin, another dead singer, but this time one I was lucky enough to see perform once shortly before his fatal traffic accident in '81. Of course back in the 70s I'd had no ancient relationships leading to gut-wrenching chance encounters, but I was a big R/little r-omantic and imagined that I could easily understand the feelings. Today I think the power of the songs has little to do with the lost relationships, and much more to do with the lost years.

Oh, I've got something inside me
Not what my life's about
Cause I've been letting my outside tide me
Over til my time runs out.
(Harry Chapin, Taxi)

And though I felt a little more pain at the death of Harry,
so much closer to the years when his music mattered to me, than at the death of Dan, it was another singer's earlier death at the peak of his career which was the only time I recall actually crying over a musician's death. I may have been stunned by Lennon's assassination in my 20s, but it was Jim Croce's plane crash in my teens which really got to me. There were no heavy attempts at profundity as from Harry and Dan; Jim's songs just seemed to come from a straight-forward likable and funny guy. Listening to the three of them these 3 1/2 decades later, it's Jim's simple music which holds up the best for me.

'Cause I've had my share of broken dreams
And more than a couple of falls
And in chasin' what I thought were moonbeams
I have run into a couple of walls
But in looking back at the faces I've been
I would sure be the first one to say
When I look at myself today
Wouldn'ta done it any other way
(Jim Croce, The Hard Way Every Time)

P.S. I love the sound of crow caws in the morning.


Stephanie said...

I can't relate to your summer hibernation and winter exploration inclinations, but I do find them interesting. One of many reasons you'll probably never be a Southerner, I suppose? :)

I started to say here that this was an encouraging report on the results of the Sea Shepherd's (and Greenpeace's) efforts. But I find that, in fact, I don't feel much relief or happiness in reading it because I can't get over the other half who were killed.

There are a handful of musicians I know I'll deeply mourn when they're gone, Leonard Cohen among them. God, what a sad day that will be. On the non-musician front, for possibly weird, embarrassing reasons, I found myself quite shaken when Jerry Orbach died. Hard to explain. I think it had to do with some odd association I made between him and my father when I was small, one I didn't realize I'd made until I was much older. Long story. I swear that I don't normally mourn celebrity stranger's deaths like that.

greentangle said...

The only way I'll be a Southerner is if I'm homeless. Then I might head for a sandy beach in the Keys and guard sea turtle nests. Actually, now that I think of it, that sounds like a better life than the one I have now. :)

I understand how you feel about the whales.

I have some Cohen stuff and admire his ability but without feeling an emotional connection. When I think of folks getting up there who I've enjoyed the most and would miss, Kris Kristofferson, Bruce Cockburn, and Chris Smither come to mind.

Lisa J. said...

I can totally relate to your winter/summer moods. I feel like winter is my reward for surviving the warm temps. Especially now, living in Vegas, the winter is deifnitely a time to recharge & reset. I feel like I am more myself in the winter months. I did feel this way back east, as well, just amplified now because the summers are so hot here.

There are plenty of musicians who I was so affected by their death, Leonard Bernstein a major one. But recently, the death of Steve Irwin has left a big gap in my chest. I feel like he was a real friend that I lost... funny how seeing someone (or hearing someone) in my home can make them feel like more than just a celebrity.

And I agree w/Stephanie: it's hard to ignore the other whales who were killed... This is a hard time of year, especially w/the Canadian seal slaughter.