I thought I was going to have to find a canoe and paddle out to the bell buoy. Instead, I biked out to my old stomping grounds at the lighthouse, and found him floating in the calm waters with a muffled ding. I conducted the interview from the rock in the picture below. The buoy is in the upper left corner. He was not even a football field away.
Before I begin, I want to fill you in on a little history that we share. While I lived on the Norland Trust for four years, I often went out to the lighthouse for a jog or hike. I would always blow a kiss to the bell buoy. Our meetings were brief, but heartfelt. What can I say? We enjoy each others’ presence. I was glad to see him today over such calm waters.
Me: Good morning, Bell Buoy! Nice to see you again!
Bell Buoy: Ahoy! Mornin, Angel! It’s been weeks since I seens you last.
Me: It has! Hey, can you hear me okay out there?
Bell Buoy: Clear as a bell, Love.
Me: Great. I want to let you know that my readers voted for you as the character from my book that they want me to do an interview with.
Bell Buoy: That’s mighty fine of them. Seems they gots good taste.
Me: I guess! How’s the weather been treating you so far this year.
Bell Buoy: Ay, she’s beens a wicked one so far. Some days me dinger dings so loud I feels my metal’s dentin.
Me: Ouch! I believe it! Just the other day I heard you when I was all the way up at Lake Manganese. That’s like two miles from you!
Bell Buoy: Me sounds got to carry far as it can, Matey. That’s why I’s out here!
Me: True. Would you mind explaining a little about your purpose here on the Big Lake?
Bell Buoy: I’d loves to. I gots a few of them. One is me dinger. On the real foggy days, me sound lets the ships know where they ares when they hears me bell. See, I gots one tone: ding. Ding, ding, ding. The bloat down at Eagle Harbor, he gots three tones, like a “do, re, mi.” Three bells in his dinger. I’s embarrassed to say, but sometimes I gets dinger envy -- I wishes I could play songs like that.
Me: Well, I think you have a great dinger. And like you said, that way the ships know where they are; you just have your own special sound.
Bell Buoy: I appreciates you tryins to flatter me. It works.
Me: Good. What about your color?
Bell Buoy: Well, I’s red and white. That’s another way the captains knows. Red and white means Copper Harbor. Plus I gots this little “CH” on me likes a name tag.
Me: Can you tell me a little about your placement here?
Bell Buoy: Indeed. You sees Porter’s Island? All alongs that ridgeline bes the ridge right under the water. That bar extends almost the whole way to the lighthouse where you sits so pretty. Any ship that enters through here gots to enter by me and in line with the range lights alongs the shore of the Harbor. That way they’s guaranteed a safe entry. Ay, I’ve seen some smaller boats trys to cut across the rock. It shivers me timbers when I watches them pass over the ridge.
Me: I believe it! A person would have to have a tiny boat to want to chance that. But it does add a lot more distance to come all the way to the east side of the Harbor to dock at the west end.
Bell Buoy: That ain’t somethin I cares about. I’m just the landmark. They wants to boat out here, they haves to abide by the rules.
Me: Well put. So how long have you been out here?
Bell Buoy: Since spring.
Me: Right, but how many years have you been floating on this spot dinging your bell?
Bell Buoy: How’s I supposed to know? I ain’ts a math whiz.
Me: Well, it’s not really math, but you don’t know how many years you’ve been out here?
Bell Buoy: What’s the point? Every year they brings me back up from the Portage Canal. Sometimes me gets a new paint job. Alls I know is I’ll bes out again next year, so adds one more.
Me: Okay. Is there anything else you’d like my readers to know about you?
Bell Buoy: Ay. Don’t climbs on me. I ain’ts a swimmin buoy. I means, if you’re a cute dame, I’s a life raft, but alls I gets is men jumpins from their boats to climbs me. It ain’t safe, I tells ya. Don’t risk it.
Me: Good advice, I suppose. Now I’ve been really curious about something. I know you live on the water, so I’m not too surprised, but where did you pick up the pirate language?
Bell Buoy: Yarg, what’s a pirate?
Me: It’s a -- oh, nevermind. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you on this beautiful day. Enjoy yourself out here. I’ll be listening for you!
Bell Buoy: You bets, me Angel. Come visits again soon.
Ding. Ding. Ding.