May 12, 2022

My first day in the north woods started out with a crisis.  My elderly mother, with whom I planned to stay, tested positive for COVID.  My brother did as well, and my brother’s home was the place I planned to stay while my mother quarantined. None of this is surprising.  Nobody masks around here at all.

I moved into a motel for a few days.  It was a cozy room ten miles out of town.  The room with an outside entrance had a kitchenette and a clean, attractive décor that highlighted the northern woods.  Pictures of deer and bears were hung on the walls and there was lovely arrangement of pine cones in a basket. There was a thick and inviting woods behind the motel and a large fire pit with picnic table on the premises. The motel “office” was actually a bar and I had to get the bartender’s attention to register. 

Despite how much I liked my room, I felt a bit nervous going into it.  That was because my neighbors were some ragged looking characters sitting outside their adjacent rooms, smoking and drinking beer.  They looked like the men who planned Governor Whitmer’s kidnapping.

I also found out that the internet was lousy.  It was impossible to get online.  I decided to wait until morning to complain.  I went into the bar around 9:00 a.m., and there were the same guys I’d seen the night before.  They ran the place!

I asked about the internet.

“It sucks!” one of the men barked.  I didn’t ask for further explanation. 

One good thing about relatives in quarantine, is that you have an easy excuse not to visit.  Not that I mind visiting but one does have limits. I managed to get away for a few hours and drive to a lake that I’d visited as a child.  My uncle took us camping there and we had the time of our lives.  I can’t remember one instant when any of my baby-boomer siblings or cousins were bored on that trip.  And yet when I took my own nephews there many decades later, it was a different story.  The boys were bored from the get-go.  I tried in vain to get them engaged in some fun activity but it was a challenge.  They were city boys and were pretty much used to a constant barrage of entertainment, not the least being video games.  A quiet woods with a beautiful lake did not impress them.

One of the boys was more irritating than the other.  He kept telling me how bored he was and at one point I threatened to drive him back to my parents’ house.  I told him, “You’re going to ruin the trip for me and your brother so I’m going to drive you back to Grandma and Grandpa’s!”

“But I’ll be bored there too!” He told me.

That same lad did not do well in the tent that night.  He pissed and moaned about how uncomfortable it was to sleep on the ground.  He also informed me of his own family’s vacations.  “We always stay at the Marriott!”

Today I was relieved to enjoy the lake alone and minus children.  The lake was exquisite.  The water was warm and so crystal clear!  I prepared to jump in it, but then thunder started.  Realizing the danger of swimming during a lightning storm, I resisted the temptation.

Instead, I walked for a while in some gorgeous woods.  It wasn’t a hike but my knee did quite well.

Warm Rain

On dead leaves

Spring birds


Rumbling thunder

A euphony

Published by susancasslangmailcom

Susan Casslan is a writer and a nurse. Her writing touches on spirituality and issues pertaining to social justice. Casslan lived for a decade in the San Francisco Inner Mission District, and she was greatly inspired by the Latinx culture of that neighborhood. The Inner Mission emerges in her books Conversations with Richard Purcell: The Adventures and Reflections of a Renegade San Francisco Priest and That Which Wavers with the Night, as well as in her chapbook 24th Street and Other Poems. Additionally, Casslan’s nonfiction articles have appeared in El Tecolote, an Inner Mission newspaper.

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