2009.01.21 This, that and the other thing

Written by David Green.

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.

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