Monday, April 2, 2007

This is what I imagine heaven to be

My last weekend at home, we packed up and headed to the north shore of Lake superior, graciously invited by a close friend to spend the weekend in a place I’ll aptly call the enchanted forest. It was a peaceful weekend of good wine, food and music, beautiful scenery and laughing children. I only pulled my laptop out once, to write the first part of this:
This place is what I imagine heaven to be. Two cabins, a large, three-bedroom and a smaller, one bedroom nestled in the cedars and pines along a steeply dropping river, blessed with swift rapids and spectacular waterfalls. Stone stairs and walkways lined with split-rail fences, tiny flower gardens and various pieces of natural artwork hidden beneath the pines or behind a rock. We are staying in the main cabin dominated by a massive stone fireplace and hearth that spans most of the length of one wall in the living area off the dining room.
View from our cabin.

The cabin hiding in the trees atop the cliff. I'm standing on the river.

Drying out in front of the fireplace.

Our cabin sits atop a cliff, overlooking the waterfall as it plunges toward Lake Superior. It is the sound you fall asleep to and the sound that wakes you in the morning. A fire crackles in the fireplace and we relax to the sound of two mandolins, accompanied by a hollow-body guitar. The wine is good. Very good, in fact. Another bottle is slated for tonight if I feel in the mood. The air outside was crisp a few minutes ago when I stepped out to have a smoke and watch the stars painting a jet-black night sky. The music is mesmerizing and I sit just to the left of my youngest daughter, who sits in a cushioned, wooden chair by herself. She stares at the instruments and watches their hands on the strings. She’s tapping her bare foot against me in time to the music. I think if I spoke to her she would jump, so into the music she is. But I just watch her, soaking up the smile in her eyes and her excitement in finding new music she loves.
Dualing mandolins.

Collaborating artists, drawing a picture of the waterfall just outside the window.


This morning the waterfall was partially flowing and the river remained frozen. The kids of course, began a systematic attack on the ice, as kids do. By lunchtime, the kids were red-faced and sweaty. The ice above the falls had been beaten and the flow over the falls, doubled. The adults helped out a bit, too. Tonight, we are enjoying the cabin, good music and the crackling fire. The waterfall fills the silence between songs along with a little conversation and a lot of laughing and joking. The outside world doesn’t intrude on this place.

Contemplating the fire.
Before the breakout.

The next morning, as I gazed out at the falls an eight foot wall of water, trees and ice roared down the river and launched off the falls in a thunderous crash. The river had just finished what the children had started in an awesome display of nature’s power and fury. Ten minutes later the river subsided to a dull roar and we trekked down the river to its mouth at Lake Superior to survey the damage caused by the juggernaut. This walk along the river had been planned and it was fortuitous that we hadn’t gotten an early start.
About 3 minutes after the breakout. The falls are thundering!

The walk downstream to the mouth was an eye-opener. Icy banks scoured clean by the flood. Massive ice chunks sitting high and dry several feet beyond and above the river. In one section near the mouth, the river had carved a new channel after tons of ice and snow plugged the original, overflowing the bank and spilling huge sheets of ice into a pond. We walked the beach for a time and picked up agates, finding a few gems in the newly storm-turned spring beach.

After a lunch of pastys, we packed, cleaned up the cabins and drove home in the worst combination of rain, hail and fog that I have ever seen. My knuckles get white again, just thinking about it. I’ll a few pictures, including a few from a visit to this magical place last summer when I had a steadier hand with the camera…


Mr. Bud said...

dude, we are huddled around a internet connection at the cabin that is slower than molasses. The falls picture just loaded in and we all exclaimed "Your picture wins!" This is Mr. Bud's oldest son typing because he is slower than molasses at typing also.

Pirate said...

Hola gentlemen!! That is too cool that you guys are there. Enjoy the place till you fly out and tell the folks I said hello:) Tell Beano hola, too:) I assume he's there...

Anonymous said...

If that is heaven me gots one request??? Have a word with them guys at the Pearly's and tell um me's not all that bad a person plz?? Me will even hunt down the Pirate Penquins again if ya lost yers ?? ;) ;)

That place is gorgeous. Soooooo gorgeous that me hopes Heaven is really like that!!!!!

Queen of Dysfunction said...

That is gorgeous. I especially love the corner windows, the view must have been amazing to see in person.

Plus... how long did it take you guys to break out the ice from the waterfall? I love the before and after photos.

Pirate said...

This place is magic, from the cabin, to the view, to the river and Lake Superior, the woods, food, music and company. I think it is my favorite place on earth:)

We worked on the ice about 25 yards upstream from the falls, from a bridge, for about 3-4 hours I think. The kids were all red-faced and I suspect I might have been too;) mr. bud??

Maeve said...

Gotdamn it, I need to get the hell out of Californifcation.

pirate said...

Newfie- if I thought I was heading that way, I would, but where I'm headed, you don't want a reference;)

Maeve- This could be northern Cali. Way up, like Washington-ha ha!

Jay said...

What a beautiful place. It looks like a perfect place to go to just get away from evething and everybody for a while. A place to go and just read, write, take long walks and recharge for a while.

Macoosh said...

i wanna live there. that's exactly where i want to live. i'm stealing it.