Sailing To Michigan

People who go ice fishing … they are either the sturdy heroes of fishing or they are the dunces. I lean toward the latter designation. To walk (perhaps even drive your car or snowmobile) far out onto a basically untrustworthy surface, dig a hole through the ice that immediately tries to re-close itself, drop a bait through that hole and sit there hoping that somehow you’re somewhere near a fish … all the while either freezing your tuchus off or huddling around a heater inside a tiny tent … what’s not to love?

But here’s a tale of dunces in danger that has a happy ending. A bunch of Wisconsonians went out to fish a few days ago and suddenly the huge chunk of ice they were all standing on broke loose and started out for Michigan with them aboard.

Someone made the call and soon the local sheriff came to their rescue. All concerned ended up safe and unhurt.

Maybe the good sheriff should have stayed at home. An opportunity to raise the intelligence level in the common gene pool was forever lost … along with a whole raft of Darwin awards for sure.

Authorities told WBAY that ice rescues on the northeast side of the bay occur about once a year. In December 2018, 14 people were rescued from an ice sheet that separated in the same body of water.

Washington Post

Like I said.



Way back in 1980 when it was obvious that my working in the UP of Michigan wasn’t going to work out the way I planned, I was looking for a place to re-settle my family and start a new practice. Just before Thanksgiving I visited a promising town called Yankton, South Dakota. The “headhunters” who were in the business of matching physicians with locations had paid for my trip and I was flying in a chartered plane. Just me and the pilot.

I had planned to spend a couple of days there learning what I could to help me make up my mind, but late in the afternoon of the first day in Yankton the pilot came to my motel room. He had learned of an unexpected storm front that was coming our way bringing snow and wind and all sorts of good things and it had unsettled the man. As he put it, no matter what we had previously arranged, there was no way he was going to spend the holiday in some place he’d never even heard of before and his plane was heading back to Michigan that very night. I could be on it or not, he was pretty neutral about the whole thing.

I made a decision to join him, and my hosts in Yankton were very understanding. Around 8:00 P.M. it was already starting to sleet-snow when we took off in the twin-engine Cessna, but in my ignorance of things aeronautic I thought that if the man flying the damn thing was okay with it, I would be too.

However, we had no sooner attained cruising altitude when the pilot handed me a flashlight, along with this instruction:

“I want you to keep an eye on the leading edge of that wing. If you see any ice forming you are to let me know immediately.”

“What does it look like, this ice forming?”

“You’ll know it if it happens.”

“What happens if … ?”

“If we ice up I may lose control of the plane. When that happens we are at risk of descending at a highly uncomfortable rate of speed. Do you catch my drift?”

Well, I did catch it. And there was never such an intense and dedicated wing-watcher as I was that night, hoping that the batteries in that flashlight were fresh and would last as long as I needed them. At one point the wing did look a bit odd, and I mentioned that to the pilot. He looked over and then told me that this was a teensy bit of icing, and that I was to let him know if it got worse.

Now this was way more responsibility than I had ever wanted while in an aircraft. I didn’t feel at all confident in my ability to tell a tolerable amount of ice on the wing from the point where (as comedian Billy Connolly once said in a famous routine) we were going to go into the ground like a f*****g dart.

But the situation never got worse, the plane got me back to Hancock MI in one frazzled piece, and the pilot spent his Thanksgiving at home just as he had wanted. Eventually I did settle in Yankton, and stayed there for a good many years without ever having to repeat this stressful experience.

But since that night I never fly without a flashlight packed. Just in case. You never know.



A bit of South Dakota political news that wasn’t depressing, for a change. Senator Mike Rounds said this:

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota said Monday he stands by his statement that former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, after Trump called his fellow Republican a “jerk” for his comments. Rounds said he was “disappointed but not surprised” by Trump’s attack. Since his loss, Trump has made repeated false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, even as courts, audits and recounts have repeatedly confirmed the results as free and fair. “This isn’t new information,” Rounds said in a statement. “If we’re being honest, there was no evidence of widespread fraud that would have altered the results of the election.” Rounds had said in an interview Sunday morning on ABC News’ “This Week” that Republicans need to move forward and focus on winning elections, and added that people “can believe and they can have confidence that those elections are fair … and that is in every single state that we looked at.”

Associated Press

It’s good to know that there are still honest and clear-thinking Republicans. Not just in South Dakota, but anywhere. Unfortunately sane people have become the fringe of the party, instead of being where they should be, leading it.


Annie Proulx is in the small pantheon of writers whose stuff appeals to me enough that I have read several of her works. So far I’ve gone through The Shipping News, Accordion Crimes, That Old Ace In The Hole, and Wyoming Stories. Her writing has calluses on its hands – tough, spare, sometimes grim. Not a word of chick-lit anywhere to be found in any one of them.

There was one character in That Old Ace In The Hole that I thought about last night. The older guy who starts up a restaurant in small-town Woolybucket, Texas. He is a bit of a chef as well, and one of his most popular specialties is something that he calls spinach pie because his customer base wouldn’t be caught dead putting a forkful of quiche in their mouths. Quiche was just too damn dandified for his clientele, something better suited to a table in (gasp!) New York, for instance.

I thought about him last night because Robin cooked a spinach quiche for supper. It was outstanding. One of those times when you wished you had several stomachs like a cow does, and could fill each one independently of the others.


But alas, I have only one stomach, and one which occasionally gives me heartburn to boot, so I had to content myself with a single generous slice. I was so grateful for having lived long enough to claim that trophy last night at supper, and at the end I laid my tools down quietly and reverently. Before leaving the table I picked a final crumb from between the tines of my fork and let it dissolve on my tongue. Best spinach pie ever.

You shoulda been there.


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