Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December 13: A Bear Who Went Over the Mountain, Polar Vortex, Land of Poetry

Like the bear who went over the mountain, I went out to see what I could see.  And, I might as well warn you, like the bear, all that I could see was the other side of the mountain:  more of the same . . .

The pretty much describes winter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Snow sort of washes away most features of the landscape.  Hills, fields, bushes, rocks, ruts, roads--all blank sheets of paper until a car plows through or a third grader tromps through.  Each side of the mountain is the same.

You have to be pretty hardy to live in this place.  The common joke is that we get nine months of winter and three months of relatives.  There's a polar vortex spinning over a good portion of the country.  Tonight, the wind chills are supposed to be about 20 below zero.  That means that, after about 30 minutes, any exposed skin will develop frostbite.

This morning, after the plows went through, I spent about 40 minutes shoveling.  That was about 3:30 a.m.  It was pretty friggin' cold.  By the time I was done, my hands were numb, even though I was wearing gloves.  Tomorrow, the cold is supposed to be even worse.

I've been thinking about what it means to be the Poet Laureate of this region.  It's not a place that's overrun by poets and poetry lovers.  The Green Bay Packers are religion up here.  Even pastors know that, on game Sundays, sermons have to be shorter.  Opening day of whitetail deer season is pretty much a national holiday, as well.  Some schools even close down.

Yet, I think that the Upper Peninsula is a land of poetry.  Grendel could prowl the shores of Lake Superior.  Whitman could floss his teeth with our leaves of grass.  King David could dance naked on our beaches and mountains, through our pine forests.  I step outside my front door every morning and see poetry.

That's what being the Poet Laureate of the U. P. means.

Please vote for Saint Marty at the link below:

Martin Achatz for Poet Laureate of the U. P.

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