Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pictures Without A Camera

Because my camera is broken (and too expensive to repair), I did not have a way to capture the scenes I saw on my morning walk. However, I thought I would test my writing skills and try to describe what I saw.

When I walked out of the house, the sun was shining but the air was hazy. It felt more like August than September and I wondered if the winter months would be a little off schedule too. I don’t mind January’s zero temperatures being delayed, but I would hate to think in April it will feel like mid-February.

Anyway, the air this morning was damp and my skin felt clammy. The flags at the waterfront moved listlessly in the slight breeze off the lake. They seemed tired already, even though it was only 9AM. Perhaps they were conserving their energy for later in the day.

The harbor wall was lined with fisher people – I have to say that because there seemed to be almost as many women as there were men. In fact, as I approached the end of the harbor, I recognized a friend of mine.

“I thought that was you”, I greeted her.

“Yup, it’s me.”

“I didn’t know you fished,” I commented.

“Well, I don’t. At least not often. We did the first year we lived here,” she told me. “We bought all the gear and came down here regularly. But after that, well, we just never did it.” That was five years ago.

I could relate. That’s exactly what happened to us when we moved here, also five years ago. My husband bought the gear and the license, and now the reels and net make nice wall decorations in our garage.

“Not working today?” I asked my friend.

“No. My sister is here from West Virginia, and I took the day off.” She pointed to a woman sprawled out on the harbor wall, soaking up the sun. The woman opened one eye and said, “Hi”.

We chatted for a few more minutes and then I continued. I walked past the small boat harbor, over the bridge, past the Coast Guard station and History Center to the end of the road, then down the pier to the lighthouse.

There were no cars parked at the beach. That’s the spot the teenagers congregate at in the summer, and they are all back at school now. But I did notice, as I have on other occasions, cars driving slowly down the beach road, across Simmons Island, and along the lakefront drive. As before, I noticed that the drivers were almost exclusively men in their sixties and seventies. They drive late model American made cars (remember this town has been an auto manufacturer for years). Chryslers. Buicks. Cadillacs. I wondered how many of them were retired American Motors workers. I also wondered how many of them were told this morning by their wives to stop sitting around the house, and get out while they cleaned or shopped or just talked to a friend on the phone. I wonder what these old guys do in the winter. Drive around Fort Meyers Florida?

When I reached the base of the lighthouse, I saw that some young lovers had left their mark on the base of the lighthouse. Nickie and Debbie 9/09/09. I hate graffiti and I hate what it does to my lighthouse, but somehow that Nickie and Debbie acknowledged a significant date (we won’t see one like it again until 10/10/10) was less troublesome to me than usual.

Looking back at the beach, I realized it was empty, except for a gaggle of seagulls (Do seagulls gather in a gaggle like geese?) who were probably happy to finally have the beach all to themselves.

By this time, I was hot, but my sweat had nowhere to go. I was glad that the water fountain (okay, here in Wisconsin it’s a bubbler) in front of the water treatment plant was still running and I took a long drink. I then went back down the road, along the beach, and across the park toward home.

Across the street from the foot of the harbor is Memorial Fountain. This morning the small maple tree in front of the fountain (no, this is a real fountain, a two story high globe surrounded by spouting water) was wearing a gold and red cap of turning leaves, the first sign I have seen of approaching autumn.

When I realized that it would only be a few more weeks until all the trees would be decked out in their fall finery, and that would be followed by winter, I decided to enjoy my sweaty skin and the warm sun beating on my legs. It won’t be long before I will trade my baseball cap for a woolen hat and my sneakers for boots. By then, I hope to have purchased another camera.

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