South Shore of Lake Superior – August 21, 2012
Kenny and I loaded the boat into the bed of his truck and threw my equipment in back. It was early, most of the grandkids were asleep, but they’d all said goodbye last night, they even gave me two bags of chocolate to take with me which is a lot considering the conversation I’d had with the six-year-old the day before.
“Which is your favorite year so far?” I’d asked.
“This one,” she said.
“Why’s that?” I asked.
“Because there was lots of parties and sugar,” she said.
The chocolate got stashed on top of the sleeping bag Keith gave me in his basement yesterday. A few days earlier, I’d spent a cold night freezing my toes and thinking about my warm sleeping bag sitting in a closet back in Florida.
“I can get my bag shipped up soon,” I said. “It’s not a big deal.”
“No,” Keith said. “Just take this one. It’s getting colder out there.”
Kenny took my fishing pole into the garage just as we got the last things loaded in the truck. He came out with a file, sharpening the hook tips one at a time until they satisfied him. We got in the truck and drove toward the harbor.
“That looks like Keith behind us,” Kenny said.
I looked in the mirror and saw the Looksha’s yellow hull hanging off the back of the truck with Keith driving behind to watch it. He’d woken up early to see me off and hand me a small container of oil and aluminum foil as I packed the boat on the dock.
“That’s good enough to cook six meals,” he said.
“Six?” I said. “It took me two months to catch one fish.”
“They bite like crazy on the rivers,” he said. “And you’ll catch a bunch on the North Shore down to Duluth.”
I smiled. I wanted to tell them the truth, that I wasn’t going to Duluth, not yet, that I was going across the lake, across twenty miles of open water toward the Apostle Islands, but I didn’t have the heart. I didn’t want them to worry, to try to convince me not to go, to stare out at the water all day and wonder.
“If you run into any trouble, call us,” Kenny said. “Minnesota’s not that big of a state.”
“I know,” I said. “I will.”
“Neither is Iowa,” he added.
I smiled and gave him and Keith a big hug goodbye.
Nine hours later, I slid up a sand beach on the other side of Superior, dug into the boat’s front hatch, and ripped open the bags of chocolate.
“Kid’s got it all figured out,” I thought.