Saturday, July 24, 2010


July 18. Sharon H and Sharon S arrived early and away we flew like three wild geese. The miles sped by as we hurried north. At International Falls we made a quick stop for food. SH also purchased her first bottle of Deco-Art Red Sparkling toe nail polish. She had been allowing the nails to grow quite long and had also purchased new sandals for this historic event. There was soon to follow the unveiling of the glamor toes. SS painted her toes, too. So the 20 red nails were photographed together and will certainly be included in some outstanding collection of erotic art.
When we got to Bald Rock dock there was no pontoon taxi! But soon there arrived Sir Tim of Koochiching who carried we three damsels over the lake on his waterborne steed. He paused en-route to point out two eagle nests. "Now", I heard him promise, "our safe passage is assured for the feathered guardians are at their posts." When we reached our distant destination we were quickly deposited and soon Sir Tim was away in pursuit of new adventures.
It was the song of the white-throated sparrow spilling from the cedar tree that brought me down from the fluffy white clouds. I planted my two sad feet with ten unpainted nails on the firm but unsteady planks of the Mallard boat landing and slipped into the present reality of another golden hour.
Sharon S, Priscilla and I made ourselves at home in Cedar Bark House, the floating bordello. After a wonderful supper prepared for us by Mary and M-air-y I was ready for sleep. Sharon S played a twilight tune entitled "Love's Old Sweet Song" on Rosa (Ober's mother) Davenport's old upright piano. This caused the local loons to mourn wistfully upon the quiet Rainy Lake. And so we slept beneath a great star shining in the west.

July 19. I was up with the sun! Unable to go back to sleep I went to the Wannigan, a floating kitchen that used to follow the log booms. Little Anne (I'm Big Anne) was already there! We made coffee and one by one other women joined us. There were ten guests and two able (M&M) camp counselors on the Mallard this week. I went quickly to the Book House or library (formerly a 1920s boat house) to read and write. The two Sharons soon found me and stories were exchanged with much laughter and applause.
After a wonderful dinner it was time to work on a Mallard poem. It was slow to find its voice but at last it was ready to speak. At 7 PM we gathered at Ober's Big House to drum and tell stories. After that we went to Japanese House on the point to watch the sunset. It began to rain and we saw a pale rainbow climb high in the south. After a visit to the Clivus Multrum composter toilet I went home to Cedar Bark. Once more the great white star watched over our sleep.

July 20. No one in the kitchen so I made one cup of coffee. Suddenly they were arriving non-stop! There I sat with a single cup. I promised myself to make a full pot tomorrow.
Sharon S, Faye and I paddled over to Crow to hike the trail that Beth and I had marked in 2008. It is now groomed. We also took a small pail for picking blueberries. We had filled about 1/3 of the pail when Sharon's sore toe became too painful to continue. We were returning to the canoe when we met Stephanie who had swam over. Faye took the pail and went back up the trail with Stephanie. Sharon soaked her foot in the cold water and I visited the sacred site. It wanted a cleansing and a blessing. I was not prepared for ceremony but I sat and prayed then walked around the fire pit, altar and circle. I put a prayer into every step. I looked for the piece of moccasin that I'd seen there in 2008 but it has been removed. We got back to the canoe and paddled to Gull. We visited the caboose and Frigate Friday that used to belong to writer Ted Hall of Ranier.
Later that day we all went on the pontoon for a wine and chip/dip party on the Frigate Friday.
After supper we all sat on the pontoon to drum and sing. I led a water blessing ceremony and read "A Chain of Promises", the new poem I'd written for the Mallard. It was a beautiful evening until the mosquitoes found us.

July 21. I read "The 12 Pound Look", one of Barrie's other plays, last night. It pulled my tired face into a weary smile. He also wrote "Peter Pan". Sharon S, Priscilla and I took the green canoe out and around Half Mile Island then returned to land near the caboose on Crow. I put the nose of the canoe in a good place, unhinged my joints and crept carefully forward. Once on land I slowly pulled the canoe up as far as I could and Priscilla came ashore. Together we pulled Sharon in but the boat had drifted over a rock and suddenly it tipped and dumped Sharon! When we were all ashore I took Sharon's cap and climbed the Crow's wing of stone. I walked the bird's long spine and filled the cap with blueberries. When I climbed down and passed the cap, Priscilla told a story about two rabbit hunters.
At the Mallard I returned to the library until dinner. What a fantastic Mexican menu had been prepared... and apple pie, too. Later Little Anne took three of us down to the winter kitchen under Ober's house. It has been restored and shaped into a small museum kitchen. It is a gem of a room and quite chilly even on this warm day.
Later we gathered on the Wannigan deck to sing and drum. Faye showed some of her fantastic art and we had a reader's theater. Sharon S had cut Chris Larson's "Ode to a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea" into several parts for each of us to read. It was extremelymoving and reminded me again that water is vital to the lives of all nations. Someone started telling ghost stories so I told about the spirit man who had visited the bordello in 2008. He was wearing a red shirt, had long thin braids and an extremely cheerful smile.
Afterward I went to the library and found myself reading until darkness peered in at me from the windows. I felt like the official Mallard librarian as I locked it up for the night. It's not a real lock but a circular key that fits into a hasp.

July 22. I watched another glorious sunrise over Rainy Lake. I had the early morning to myself in the Wannigan. When Sharon H found me we looked at Ober's Native American photos. Such beautiful children! Then I left and spent a wonderful hour alone on the screened deck at Ober's House overlooking the channel. Later in the library with a rare three volume collection of Robert Burns before me, the eager water lapping below, dappled sun spread on the Mallard's stone thumb and the sweet fragrance of the day wafting in through the open window... I was as satisfied as I've ever been.
After reading of how Burns had suffered unto death I took myself to the Cedar Bark deck to soak my feet. I thought it would restore a vision of Virgil and I sitting there in 2008 dangling our feet in the water and waxing eloquent. But the water was too low so I crossed to the boat dock and sat swinging my feet in the tea-colored water. I was dismayed by the way Burns had died and the Latin inscription on his grave stone. He had written his own epitaph in English and had said that Latin was "a book sealed" from him... and from me as well. Furthermore, his bones have been exhumed at least twice for "examination".
We had a wonderful circle of women for the cleansing of Grandmother Drum and a deep healing for some of us. The Thunder Beings came, the Water People were dancing on the roof and it was all just about perfect! What would have made it perfect? A visit from The Scottish Bard.

July 23. All night I enjoyed the joyful dance of water driven by a strong wind. It played along the stony shores of Crow Island and beneath the floor of our bordello. Just before dawn I was awakened by the sound of a small drum beat followed by a distant beat of a large drum. I got up to investigate and get a drink of water. I was still tired so I fell back into the bed but before I could get settled the wind pushed the swinging window open, flipped the basin and spilled the contents on the rug. I cleaned it up as quietly as I could, hung the rug out on the clothesline to dry and went to the Wannigan. It was 5:20 AM. We had been told a trickster spirit lived on the island. His name is Charlie Friday and I have no doubt he had paid me an early visit. At 5:34 Stephanie joined me. It began to make sense. My last thought of the night before had been that I'd had an opportunity to speak privately with all the women except her. But how did Charlie know that? I didn't say it... I only thought it.
Sharon S and I had not been chosen for the Hot Dishes... we were the Left Over Women. But Priscilla, our roomy, volunteered to join our effort to prepare a last supper of leftovers. They were in charge of the hot dishes and salad. I prepared a fruit salad dessert (dressed with honey from contented bees with memberships to the most exclusive bee societies) and cedar leaf tea from blushing trees at the west end of the island frequented by skinny-dippers. Afterward we cleaned up the kitchen and I returned to the library because my time with Burns was coming to an end.
We took the pontoon out to watch the sun set from the water. Then we went to the Wannigan to celebrate a blueberry pie birthday party for Frances Andrews, Ober's very good friend. We passed her portrait around the table and we all wished her well on the other side.
Before going to sleep in our bordello we celebrated the dead poets. I read from John Greenleaf Whittier and Sharon read some works by Paul Lawrence Dunbar. Earlier, Priscilla had quoted a bit of verse from "Annabelle Lee" by Edgar Allen Poe.

July 24. I awakened early to a gull screaming near my window. Soon after a loon raised her haunting voice and was closely followed by a chorus of white-throated sparrows. I went to the Wannigan to write and found Mary preparing blueberry chocolate chip muffins. Stephanie was talking about her waterproof mascara. I read the quote on Mary's personal mug: "It is good to live with old and large trees." By Frances Andrews. Concern for Ober's collected books led to Q's and Mary said the books are naturally freeze dried every year by winter.
All things come to an end and soon it would be our turn to leave the Mallard. I had volunteered to clean the library but first I got busy cleaning my space in Cedar Bark. I'd hung all the rugs and swept the house, porches and walk the night before. Priscilla said she would mop. After all was done I sat on the bordello deck to make my good bye to the magic island. Before our departure Mary gave me a pair of silver and pearl earrings. They will be a precious reminder of this visit to the magic island. Then M-air-y pontooned the first group to Bald Rock dock where we loaded the cars and left. S&S dropped me in Deer River and went on with their long journey to their destinations.
In late afternoon a large rabbit came out to dine on the grass beyond my window. I watched him for a long time. Then I went down to visit Pearl and pick up three parcels that had arrived during my absence. I gifted her a pkg of Starbuck's breakfast blend coffee and we had a long talk. Ann M called later. It was another full day.

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