Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"Rose Lake is a beautiful place, miles and miles of trails winding through a DNR State Wildlife Area. The nice thing about it, and its greatest drawback and eventual downfall, is that it is open to anyone who knows of its existence. In the winter I see only the "regulars," none of whom are recognizable through layers of clothing [though I know their dogs]. Summertime brings families, "seasonal" dogwalkers, partying highschoolers, and everything in between.

"Sunday was a first, however. Long story short, my dogs and I were followed by a fairly young raccoon [probably less than a year old]. I kept my dogs away from it, having no desire to find out about rabies firsthand, and chased it back with a stick. It kept trying to follow us despite my attempts to chase it away, and it mewed almost like an infant might. The thing probably followed us for 75 or 100 feet before we took off at a run [at which point it ran after us], and then it wasn't behind us anymore.

"We were out on the trail for a few hours, a good part of which I spent thinking about the crazy raccoon following us. Needless to say, that is an unnatural behavior to witness in any animal, unless it intends to make you its lunch. By the time the trailhead was once again near, I had worked out in my head the perfect way to tell the story to my friends.

"Then my dogs took off after something, and a little grey blur went streaking up a tree. The raccoon.

"I was glad it was at least smart enough to run up a tree, and after calling the dogs we walked the remaining distance to the parking area. I noticed some idiot had broken [and left] a lightbulb, and some other idiot had left a fast food bag, so I started to pick up the shards of glass. The dogs sat nearby in the shade. Then I heard a familiar mewing coming from some bushes, and a little bandit's face appeared.

"I grabbed a nearby stick and told the dogs to heel, and we walked back to my car so I could put the dogs in. It followed us, occassionally scampering back a ways as my stick dictated. After closing the dogs into the car, I looked around for the raccoon and saw it underneath my car, apparently playing with some grass caught near the exhaust. I stealthily grabbed my purse, keeping a wary eye out for grey blurs, and walked around in an attempt to find cell phone service. My plan was to call my father to ask if there was a DNR or Animal Control number I could call to come get this thing. No point in some seasonal dogwalker getting bit, I figured.

"After a static-y and short conversation with him, a woman emerging from the woods asked if it had been following me as well. I told her it had, and she told me she thought someone had been keeping it as a pet and had dumped it out here. In my zeal for adventure and a sensational story, I had completely neglected to think about any possibilities other than RABID RACCOON CHASES, DEVOURS YOUNG WOMAN AND DOGS."

I wrote the above a few weeks ago, soon after that Sunday afternoon. It is now August 31st. Since that day, my mind has been travelling back repeatedly to what occurred. I can't get the image out of my mind, him playing at our feet with pebbles as we discussed what his fate would certainly be. An owl, no doubt, or a dog— hopefully an owl, for that would be a surely swifter death.

It's not fair, really, that humans have such capacity both for good and destruction. While there are many among us who devote themselves to improving the standards of living among people and animals alike, there are far more whose thoughts never stray far from their material posessions and expensive upcoming vacations. Those who do care might not want to make a show of it, as is the case of President Bush who's a known "environmentalist" when his GOP buddies aren't skulking around nearby.

What do we have to show for our nonchalance, our inaction, our embarassment in potentially being labeled a "tree-hugger"? Increasing temperatures, violent storms, harsh droughts and unforgiving floods, the extinction of undiscovered species, mutation in frogs, depleted resources, rising energy costs, lower standards of living, war.

Maybe I should reevaluate what I consider to be important, because one potentially sick or potentially abandoned raccoon has occupied my thoughts so consistently. But that animal is symbollic of all the things wrong with the way we view nature and the world around us.

I don't know what happened to him. He was gone by my next return to Rose Lake.

Friday, August 11, 2006

__ o'clock and all's well!

If you go to and search "time," the first result is After selecting the proper time zone one can find one what the official time is, accurate to 0.2 seconds. A map illustrates where the sun currently shines and which areas of the world are shrouded in darkness.

I don't know about the rest of you, but certainly I feel better knowing that, whenever I wish, I can figure out officially what the time is.

Oddly enough, it seems as though we spend part of our life wanting to grow up, and the other part wishing we were younger. My age seems like a good one, but at the same time I get tired of being referred to as "sweetie" and other such embarassing terms of faux endearment when I'm speaking to clients on the phone. Even people with whom I work call me sweetie sometimes. I'm not even all that sweet. But since I'm younger than they are, since I have nine or so months of "-teen" on my age, I'm still in that cutesy age bracket.

We are all separated by tell-tale signs of age— hairstyle, choice of makeup, dress, mannerisms, vocabulary and the ease with which one uses slang... Obviously as we age we adjust ourselves to what we consider to be the appropriate norm. My friends will seek to cover their tattoes and reverse years of sun damage. We will trade in our junker cars for something a little more, well, kid-friendly. Days of easy relaxation will turn into a lifetime of work, broken up by weekends and sick days.

At the same time kids are pushing one another to "grow up!" our parents and their peers will buy shiny sports cars and have their hair dyed and styled to fit the times. People ignore death, or fear it, and when the end comes it isn't to be dwelled upon. While humans are capable of living for many many decades, time both flies by and drags on. Are we never satisfied?

Time is an abstract concept, both "the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole," and "a point of time as measured in hours and minutes past midnight or noon." And yet we define what midnight is, when it occurs, and how exactly to calculate the moments which inflate a second or a minute into what is becomes to people. It means nothing, or it would mean nothing did we not give it meaning.

Amazing that I've been alive for 19 revolutions about the sun, and still the passing of years is as the passing of a moment, and the passing of mere weeks drags out to reveal and eternity.

Maybe time travel really is possible.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Dunegrass and Blues

Northern Michigan. Music festival. Late, after 1 a.m., following the last band. People collect their things— blankets, coolers, sunglasses, friends— and start to head home or to the campground for the night. The field is lit only by chinese lanterns in every color, and the stage lights.

Girl 1: Hang on guys, let me pick up these water bottles to recycle.

Girl 2 smiles, looks at Guy 1. They begin to pick up bottles as well.

Stage right, Man picking up empty beer cans scattered everywhere, placing into large garbage bag.

Girl 1 picks up cans, takes to Man.

Man: Oh thank you. I'm gonna use these for gas money.

Girl 1: That's a great idea, a really great idea. Picks up a few more cans, returns and places them in garbage bag. It's so expensive these days. But the concert was worth it, don't you think?

Man: Yeah. I haven't done a whole lot this summer so I fig'red what the hell, I really wanted to come down for this, so here I am. It's just been tough, ya know, finding work this summer. These cans sure will help.

Girl 1 notices he is wearing rubber gardening gloves. Smiles.

Girl 2, Guy 1, Guy 2: [together, not quite in unison] Hey! Let's go, it's getting late!

Girl 1: I'm coming! Hey sorry, I guess I've got to go.

Man: So are you in college?

Girl 1: Yes, I'm going to State.

Man: Whatcha studying?

Girl 1: I haven't decided yet... I just don't know.

Man: Well that's a really great thing. Work hard and get smart, ok?

Girl 1: I will.

Man: Well thanks for all your help. I really appreciate it. And thanks for... nice talking to you.

Girl 1 rejoins group, looks back to see Man stooped over picking up more cans.

Guy 2: So, have a nice talk?

End Scene.