Sorry it's Tuesday already. And why did I miss Monday this time? I had to go to town. The following excerpt describes how a Copper Harbor resident feels during and after one of these excursions. This was originally published in the Fall 2012 edition of the Copper UP. I particularly enjoy this humorous piece.
Going To Town
By Amanda Wais
Living at the “end of the road” in Copper Harbor certainly has its perks. You get to stare at Lake Superior. You don’t have to see anyone except your neighbors four months out of the year. Nature supplies you with yearlong beauty in wildlife, vegetation and scenery.
But then you run out of milk. Whew, the Gas Lite general store sells it. Then your exotic muffin recipe calls for fenugreek (what the heck is fenugreek anyway?). Luckily, your wacky neighbor has some. Soon you realize you need to stock up on toilet paper, vegetables and that herbal smelling shampoo you like so much. Oh, crap. Now you have to go to town.
Going to town. It most often involves traveling to Calumet or all the way to Houghton. It’s the dreaded phrase for most Harborites because it sucks two hours of your day just driving there and back. It turns your hair gray maneuvering through cars and traffic lights. And the fluorescent lights in the stores soon start a dull buzzing in your brain.
If you are going to town, you usually ask other residents if they need anything because they don’t want to go either. Often their first response is, “Well, how far are you going?” Then they’ll name a couple items they need. Otherwise you might get, “Nope, I have to go on Friday anyway.”
“Good,” you think to yourself. “One less stop for me.”
Going to town should be fun. We should think, “Oh, wow. I am going to experience a beautiful drive. I am going to see a different part of society and the world I live in. Perhaps I can go out to lunch or take a walk along the Portage Canal. Maybe I will even hit a few gift shops.” No, no you won’t. You will be so exhausted that by the time you get home it’s hard to enjoy the rest of your day. “Oh, cripes. Now I have to put all these groceries away before I go to work, and I just want to take a nap! Whimper whimper.”
Why is going to town so difficult? So stressful? So draining? My guess is that we are not used to the hustle. Sure the summers are busy up here, and we become programmed to run around in a frenzy, but it’s a different kind of frenzy. Town is a lot of driving in traffic. Copper Harbor doesn’t have traffic with lights and lane changes and police officers. You drive this way or that way and watch out for pedestrians and people on bikes (I suppose that is good practice for us).
Town also involves a lot of planning. “Okay, I need to get groceries in Calumet, but my appointment is in Houghton, and I have to stop in Dollar Bay on the way back, so I’ll take this route, or I’ll back track.” You don’t want to back track in town. You want to make a nice easy loop. Most people make detailed lists that they follow, or they’ll go crazy. “Shoot! I forgot to get dog food at the top of the hill! Now I have to go back through Houghton, and downtown is a one-way street, and the bridge might go up soon, so I might not make it back in time for work Oh man, I need a drink!!!”
See what I mean? Town is stressful.
Most people in the USA live in a city. They drive through traffic lights without a second thought. They know short cuts around one-way streets. They go out to eat and enjoy a beer because they don’t have to drive 50 miles to get home. Their heads are already buzzing with fluorescent lights, so fresh air gives them a headache.
What do they do when they come up to Copper Harbor? They hold out their phone, and look for reception. It takes them a while to adapt to our pace, just like it takes us a while to adapt to theirs.
Going to town. Some Harborites love it. They get to go some place different. They get to listen to their music on the drive. They get some retail therapy. Once in a while I remember to appreciate these silver linings. But usually, going to town is a chore, and I simply don’t want to do it.
If you see your Copper Harbor friends in town, just give them a little shoulder rub and say, “You can do it, buddy. It’s all going to be okay.” And you know what? It just might be… until you have to go next month.
Fair enough? Okay, then.
The weekend wore me out too. I worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday taking photos and notes at Ladies Weekend's Copper Harbor Bike Clinic. It was awesome. Those women were so stoked to learn how to shred on their bikes with confidence and new skills. Over 80 women participated and 16 coaches taught. It seems like they preferred the coolness and sometimes rain over hot humid weather. Here is the group shot.
Copper Harbor Ladies Weekend!
My goal is to publish some articles about that. It was inspiring, energizing and just plain amazing to see these girls learning and having fun on their mountain bikes.
Know what else is awesome? The berries! I've picked just about 2 gallons of bilberries, and I'm not done yet. Thimbles and rasps are just popping enough where you could start to pick. Blueberries need a little more time to quanitify, but they are available to nibble along the trails. The cherries are starting too, but I may have to skip them this year. I'm sure people will yell at the pregnant lady on a ladder picking cherries. More for you!
We may get a sweltering afternoon here and there, but for the most part, summer has been pretty cool lately. Especially during the night time and early mornings. But, quite honestly, we all complain when it gets really hot and humid, so it's probably better this way!
I found some friends who like that weather.
More pink water lilies!
So lovely. And as I wander the edge of this pond, I always see frogs dunking under to avoid the human and her curious dog.
This weekend, on Saturday August 2nd is the annual Copperman Triathlon. No I will not be riding in it this year. It's getting harder to get my knees up to pedal a bike!
The following weekend is Eagle Harbor's Art in the Park. Does it need an explanation? I have never been able to attend myself, and this year, I am leading the kid's Creative Writing tour in nature (if I get any takers) that I posted about earlier. The latter is Saturday, August 9th from 1-4 pm.
Also that weekend (it's going to be nuts), Copper Harbor is hosting Single Speed USA. This is a traveling race for crazy people who will pedal over 40 miles on the CH trails with only one gear on their bikes and wear goofy outfits while they do it. To each their own! We are honored that they chose our town for their annual event. I will take pictures and volunteer at a trail crossing... maybe in a goofy outfit too.
Oh, and Sunday August 10th, if it's not raining and cold, the Harbor Haus will be cooking Breakfast on the Flow! It goes from 8-9 am that morning at the picnic tables on The Flow trail. All for a donation to the CHTC.
Now let me leave you with this picture of a beetle I saw the other day. I'm sure the features on its face are not really its face, but what a neat looking creature!
The buck-tooth beetle
(That's just what I call it)
Ooh. I've also got news and photos of a rare plant species, but that will have to wait for next time. See you then!