Friday, September 14, 2007

Up From The Depths

Now what's going on.














This is how you do an aquatic plant survey on Lac Vieux Desert. Rake in hand, you latch onto the bottom and hoist a fresh salad of sea plants fit for a merman king. Lac Vieux Desert is a large shallow lake, known as the headwaters of the mighty Wisconsin River, historic ricing grounds for the Chippewa Indians, where terrifying storms, churning within rogue low pressure cells spawned over northern Canada, stir the lake, raising dark man-sized forms that twist and twirl for a moment, then slip out of view. Like a mouscallonge feeding on ducklings, the lake swallowed up many hapless voyageurs bobbing on the surface. The ducklings remain to this day.
And so does the terror. It was captured in the song of the voyageur, which, to my surprise, was reproduced with astonishing realism, pensive angst, and seething umbrage, by the journeyman musician Craig Schmoller. As the haunting melody drifted across the still waters, one could imagine that it was 1825. Many old-timers gathered on the shoreline. Many were weeping. Many waved vigorously, as if to warn us of danger. And many turned and raced up toward their houses, just as their forefathers did when the storms approached. As we listened to the sound of doors slamming and windows latching, we looked to the northwest, expecting to see dark clouds on the horizon. But as you can see, it was all blue sky. It was only our imagination.