It wasn’t until I saw the flag box in the grocery store vestibule that I remembered how patriotic this part of the state is. A retired mailbox, it was repainted white and emblazoned (in red and blue, natch): DEPOSIT WORN-OUT FLAGS HERE FOR PROPER DISPOSAL. I own a flag, but it’s only been flown on patriotic occasions, so I figure it’ll last a lifetime. I can’t imagine going through so many that I’d need to use a special flag-disposal box, but like I said, Mio, Mich. is a patriotic place.
We were in Mio to launch the boat for a little downstream floating, part of CampFest 2008, the first of three planned summer trips. Somehow, two people who rarely passed a year without a camping trip managed to give it up entirely when the kid came along. (Wonder why? Wonder no longer than it takes you to imagine changing diapers in a tent. Keeping toddlers happy in a tent. And so on.) So this was Kate’s first, but not her last. At least, I hope so. We had torrential downpours both nights, our campsite was invaded by tent caterpillars, the mosquitos were vicious, and there was a war going on across the river, and she still had fun. Fingers crossed.
Yes, a war. We camped in Grayling, home of Camp Grayling, and as usual, maneuvers were under way. The town was clogged with camouflage, and at night, the sound of machine-gun and artillery fire rang through the woods. It’s actually not objectionable at all — it wasn’t terribly loud, they’re good neighbors, and the plug is pulled at 10 p.m., which, at this time of year and at that latitude, isn’t even full dark.
Most people around here know the charming story of the Kirtland’s Warbler, an endangered little songbird once thought extinct, until a few were found nesting near the National Guard’s firing ranges. KWs nest in jack pine forest, but only in trees about head-high; they need a recently burned landscape to survive. In the years of vigorous fire suppression, they lost habitat, and only found it in the places where artillery shells had started small fires, stimulating regrowth. And so the wee birdie found refuge with the big soldiers, and if we could add some kittens and rainbows to this story, we would.
Actually, we can. This was Saturday:
Yep, that’s a threatening sky. I’m just glad the hailstorm came when we were in the car.
More video later. I have a busy morning, and then a busy week. I think I mentioned this once before, but lo it has come to pass: I’m on a team participating in the Detroit-Windsor International Film Festival Challenge, which takes place this coming weekend. Everybody meets at a central location, and each team is given a genre, a location, a line of dialogue and a prop, and we’re given 48 hours to make a four- to seven-minute film incorporating all four. The location has already been leaked — the Ambassador Bridge. There are six possible genres, which means I (the writer) have to have at least six vague ideas for short stories in each one. That’s not too daunting, is it?
Also, a final note: I freely admit to being the most out-of-touch writer in the world, but even I was amazed at the Princess Diana-ization of Tim Russert’s death. My last media intake was Friday night, after midnight, when MSNBC was still live “Remembering Tim Russert.” When I resurfaced Monday, glancing at the headlines in USA Today at the Grayling McDonald’s (did I mention I forgot the coffee in the camp kitchen), there were stories about sudden cardiac arrest and “what it means for your health.” It must suck to be famous. Is there really a demand for this? Judging from some of the vox populi out there, a lot of people felt personally connected to the guy. I don’t get it, but I’m sorry for the loss.
Back in a bit.