Monday, November 23, 2009

What washes up

I fear Lake Superior. More so, I fear what it might bring me. We live right at the end of 350 miles of open Lake Superior water and anything could wash up here.

This morning, in one of Lake Superior's lighthearted moments, it was a beer can. From Istanbul. Efes Pilsener. Imagine the Turkish sailor out at anchor tossing his empty over the rails.



After a big blow in October, some local artist had a good time with the debris that washed up on the shore here, taking some fisherman's gloves and a smelter's boot and making installation art on the dune of old driftwood.



But the lake brings real gruesome things, not just foreign beer and art material.

Nine years ago this fall, Tomasz Wlodarcyk, a 34-year-old Polish sailor, disappeared from his ship in the Duluth harbor. The following April, the body washed up on this beach.

Back in July 1885, the body of Louis Foucalt, a French-Canadian who'd written his name on his arm, was found on this beach by a little girl playing in the sand.

Darn that historical research. I know too much.

When Douglas Winter disappeared from the North Shore in October and his sea kayak washed up at Twin Points, I feared that he, or actually his body, would wash up here on Park Point. After his lifejacket came to shore a few days after he disappeared, I was even more afraid.

For the last month, when I'd take the dog for a walk on the beach, I'd hesitantly look up the shoreline, half-sure I would see Winter's limp corpse. Fortunately for me, the gales of November never really hit this year. Big Lake Superior storms, with their raging east winds, bring all sorts of things to our beach.

Winter's body surfaced and came to shore maybe ten miles away from where he died. The body had headed this way, but only made it to Two Harbors. Winter, it turns out, had shot himself out on the lake, shortly after calling his girlfriend on his cellphone to report increasing waves.

He wanted to disappear. I feared he would un-disappear, right onto my beach.

I know too much. It's a big, beautiful lake. With just the occasional unpleasant surprise.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Like the man said, "I have a terrible memory: I can't forget a thing."

Andrew Slade said...

Anonymous, that's funny! Good for a cure of the beach blues.

Andrea said...

Hi Andrew. I guess the old saying, "Lake Superior, it's said, never gives up her dead" doesn't quite apply in these cases, huh? I enjoyed your blog. I have family in your area and love the North Shore. My fiction novel is based there. I look forward to following your blog.