2009.01.21 This, that and the other thing

Written by David Green.


I have a couple of things to mention from recent editions of the Observer.

Two weeks ago I wrote about my gris-gris Christmas present—the little sack of herbs and oils that I’m supposed to carry around for good voodoo.

That column closed with directions about how to part with the gris-gris, to throw it into water running away from me. I said that eventually I would toss it into Bean Creek and let it travel into Ohio.

My sister, Diane, wrote that when she read about water flowing away from me, she immediately thought of the toilet. Bean Creek never entered her mind.

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Last week, we published a letter to the editor from a Montréal resident. Not likely, some of you must have thought. Why would someone from Montréal read the Observer?

Good question. Why do you read the Observer, Kay Johnson?

This Kay Johnson is a former Iowa farm girl who grew up near Guss where the baby pigs sometimes develop scours.

I met Kay in 1969 when we worked together at an old hotel up north in Bay View. I was the dish washer; Kay was a maid. We’ve been friends ever since.

I’ve sent bundles of old Observers to her now and then over the years, but I slipped out of the habit. Now that she can download the paper off the website, she buys an electronic subscription.

So yes, there really is a Kay Johnson from Montréal who reads the Observer and writes a very occasional letter to the editor.

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When my wife decides to recount a dream to me, I try hard to ignore the long, twisting tale in which I’m frequently a villain. But here I am telling about a dream.

The two of us were walking toward the front of a bookstore and as we neared the window, I could see my father holding Maddie, our youngest daughter. I pointed toward her and she pretended to bite my finger through the glass. She was probably three years old.

We went toward the door and there was Ben pressing his face against the glass. He was about nine years old. We walked outside and there was Rosanna running around, about six years old.

What was so unusual is that they were moving around exactly like they did at that age. Seventeen years were instantly erased. I wanted back in so I could see Maddie get down on her feet and move, but of course dreaming doesn’t work that way.

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Colleen and I went skiing Sunday for the first time in a long time.

This winter is like one from the 1990s. Lots of cold, lots of snow. We’ve had enough snow for skiing some years, but it either wasn’t good snow–maybe ice on top–or the air was so cold and windy that skiing was out of the question.

Someone was kind enough to circle the cemetery with skis already to make a good trail through the deep snow, so away we went.

We saw a pair of hawks take off from the north side of the cemetery. They must be mating already. I noticed that the basswood and box elder still have their seeds. The witch hazel still has its leaves. The tulip trees have the remainder of their fruit on the tree. It was almost glowing in the sunlight and the snow was looking a little golden, too, in the late afternoon sun.

Getting on cross country skis brings back a lot of memories, like heading off across Lake Hudson with my father and Clyde Brasher and wondering how I would ever get out of my skis and save myself if I fell through the ice.

I remember skiing around Pokagon with baby Ben on my back. Eventually he would fall asleep. But if I happened to fall down a fast hill or ran into a tree, Ben was going to be hurting. Somehow I always managed to stay on my feet, but I’ve wondered ever since...should I really have been doing that?

Steve Begnoche and I used to epitomize the words “cross country.” We would drive out to Lake Hudson and just take off across country. We didn’t look for trails. We just headed out into the woods. It was sometimes more like hiking with skis, when the snow was deep enough.

It’s deep enough now and there’s not much melting in the forecast for a few days.

We decided optimistically to leave the skis on the porch as though this thing just might happen again before spring arrives.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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