Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Live from the Third Coast

As I write, a tang of autumn nips the air above Lake Ontario, breezing lightly out of the north carrying scudding gray clouds. A change in the season may be threatening but so hurricanes forecast, no earthquake warnings unsettle my inner landscape. I’m at home.

This vagabond poet has been a homebody this summer, sticking around Ed Rose Shores and venturing out only on short trips to the North Country to work on the cabin where my brother once lived, another beautiful spot on Lake O. Roger and I have made four trips there in recent months and depart tomorrow for three more days of reclamation as we try to return the property to its iconic status: “Rainbow’s End.”

This summer Canada also has beckoned, with three forays into the province of Ontario and one more in the offing in September.

And we’ve shared the power that is Niagara Falls with good, good friends visiting with us from West Virginia. We had a beautiful day to which this photo attests. That’s purple loosestrife in the foreground, an invasive plant we are not supposed to admire. I can’t help myself. The color is so fine. What you can’t see for all the spray below the mighty, roaring falls is The Maid of the Mist, a motorcraft that takes tourists – like the two of us – into the whirlpool maelstrom within yards of the Canadian side of the cascade. (No, we didn’t need passports!) Do it sometime. Thrills guaranteed.

Staying close to home has made me reflect on how much a citizen I am of “The Third Coast” as the Great Lakes are often referred to, a befitting moniker for bodies of water that are truly inland seas. Instead of traipsing off to the American Southwest or up into the Maritimes as in summers past, we stayed home. Home. As Martha would say, “It’s a good thing.”

Still, I turn my sights toward other horizons. First, that return camping expedition to the Canadian Lake Erie Shores, this time with new eyes, Roger’s that is. His two cataract surgeries were successful and his vision immensely improved. (And the reason we didn't travel far this season.) This time around as we watches the birds who will be heading south during this visit, he’ll be able to see them clearly. Anticipated joy!

Then, in early November, we’ll head south ourselves, imitating the warblers and geese. The snowbirds will alight for our second winter in our second home-sweet-home on the Caloosahatchee River of Florida.

But I’ve two-plus months to celebrate life as a Third Coaster and watch the waves roll in on autumn days. That life, today at least, goes something like this:

Third Coast Scherzi Suite,
West to East

I. Gordon Lightfoot’s Lake Superior’s
Superior Prayer for the Sailors
Lost in Geologic Depths

Say Gitchee-Goomee,
say Edmund Fitzgerald, amen.

II. The Great Lakes’ Prettiest Stones
Come from Michigan Shores

Smooth, coraled Petoskey stones
to pocket—rock art, rock-old.

III. On Huron’s Northern Shore,
Granite Underfoot

From native waters
the Canadian Shield rises.

IV. Pelee (ONT, CAN) and Kelley’s (OH, USA),
Limestone Islands in Lake Erie

Migrations o’er glacial
grooves below the shallow sea.

V. Close Range at Dawn, Lit Stem
to Stern on Lake Ontario

Laker, St. Lawrence-bound,
in her holds: iron cargo.


P.S. Check out my latest online poem at You can both read the poem and listen to me recite it.