Monday, December 12, 2011

A few random thoughts about how this place informs our lives

Right before we had this unseasonably (unreasonably?) warm spell, we had more typical cold weather that got people into their winter coats and gloves. We all had to dig them out from where they’d been stashed in the back of the closets and then try to find which gloves matched. Walking across campus with the hats and hoods up, we don’t recognize each other from a distance, so the friendly hi’s happen when we’re a bit closer as we approach, or even once we’re by. Sometimes it’s a shout back, “Oh, hi, Bill!” There’s also the fact that hoods make people look older. Several of my colleagues have now gotten to be, well, let’s be generous and say middle-aged, even if they’re not likely to live to be 115. With their hoods pulled up tight, without their pouf of hair to distract the eye, they do look older. And I’ll keep thinking it’s just them, not me, who is looking our age. ….. Yesterday, we went to the Christmas Open House and Tea at the local lighthouse. The tea and cookies were great and it was nice to chat with some of the volunteers who staff the site and to meet the newest volunteer site-residents. The lighthouse property was surplused by the Coast Guard some number of years ago, as were all the old Great Lakes Lights. This one was picked up by the US Forest Service, renovated with the help of the local historical society and has been a great asset for our community. Thanks to all the volunteers who keep it up and running. The lighthouse is a local icon. It really does lend to our sense of place. It brings tourists and their money, but also is a place where locals go for a quick get-away. It’s just a few miles west of town, offers a spectacular view and connects us to the past. Plus what’s not to love about a lighthouse? There’s no entrance fee but people do put donations in the box. I hope enough people put enough money in the box so that it can stay free access. If there were an entrance fee, I’m afraid visitors would just drive by on their way to a more famous lighthouse farther to the west and locals would not visit so often. An access fee might thus result in less revenue than free will donations do. ….. Part of living in an out-of-the-way place is that we frequently travel, either to visit friends and relatives or to make runs for supplies not available locally. The distances are just far enough that a stop for dinner or lunch is often called for. We know the routes well enough to know that if we don’t stop here, it’ll be an hour before the next opportunity. Sometimes it’s a stop at a quick place, sometimes we like to take our time at a sit-down place. This past weekend, we stopped at a restaurant a few miles off the highway. It made for a nice surprise. I had heard it was a nice place but didn’t know it was a candles-on-the-table, cloth napkins, professional wait-staff kind of place. We even got seated by the fireplace. The food was good, very well prepared and not too pricey. That’s not the first time we’ve had pleasant dining experiences in nice, out-of-the-way restaurants. Must be some enterprising people out there who think “I know, I’ll start an nice restaurant away from the crowds.” Or maybe for some, an interest in being in the food service business matches their interest in living out of town. Either way, I like the fact that going out for good food doesn’t have to mean having to be in the city.

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