That viewer who somehow found Paddlin’ Madeline and clicked on to that first post – December 15th was treated to this lovely rendition of the jazz age tune, Paddlin’ Madeline. Wow! What were the odds of that? Thanks Whitey. Sure, there’re bathing beauties, but check out the vintage canoes too.
Perfect Authentic Cadence
Cadence: “a melodic or harmonic configuration that creates a sense of repose or resolution [finality or pause] I’d like to think of paddling to Madeline Island as a “pause” What’s next? (Thanks Wiki for these definitions)
Perfect Authentic Cadence: This is generally the strongest type of cadence and often found at structurally defining moments. “This strong cadence achieves complete harmonic and melodic closure.”
Big Bay, Madeline Island
I first laid eyes on the beach at Big Bay some twenty-one years ago. There, I watched my diapered one-year-old explore her new world. At first she sat on the blanket. Then, she began to move into the sand and towards the cold, cold (that’s really cold) water of Lake Superior. She was a “scooter” of an oldest daughter, not yet walking but ably mobilizing with a variety of backward and forward manuevers that she executed with pride. I was very curious. How would she react when her toes encountered the Lake? She watched my face intently all the time backing her way towards and then into the margin of water. The expression on her face never changed. If she had a sense of the sudden, wet chill of the 50 degree water, she didn’t show it. She just kept right on going. I felt a sense of awe watching this fearless, north country, inland- sea-horse of a child, making first contact.
Thoroughly smitten, I repeated that trip many times over the next two decades. My life changed (both Duh and Yikes – imagine if it had not?) but with few exceptions, the Island didn’t. Tom’s Burned Down Cafe is still there, a preservationists’ movement has conserved inland forest, the real estate boom waxed and then waned, and the stately Hemlocks still hold the earth and sky together. On my first visit I remember thinking and later, repeating to anyone who would listen, that this perfect arc of white sand beach, adjoining estuary, and the Big Lake, has got to be one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. Twenty-one years later, amidst 3 days of celebration with friends and family, I walked the same beach and came to the same conclusion. This gorgeous blend of forest, sand, water and sky still has a hold on me. Lots of folks have asked me over the last six months, “Why go upstream on the St. Croix? Why not start in Madeline Island instead and go down?” Cadence for one thing, perfect cadence.
May 26th to May 29th
Well, I guess having great friends and family there to celebrate with me was about the best thing, ever (valley talk inflection on “ever” – try it again). We had a mix of walk-abouts and breaking bread together. It was the first visit for some folks while for others it was three more days added to a lifetime tramping about Madeline. Here’s a bunch of images. If you’ve never made the trip before you may decide it’s about time.
The boardwalk between boggy estuary and Lake is a real treat. Come August, blueberries are ready to pick.
I once saw a snake there, immobilized with dinner’s two froggy legs protruding from his mouth. Lucky snake, unlucky frog.
on a bridge.
Big Bay State Park has walk-in as well as the usual car camping sites. We agreed that the ample spacing between campsites and the overall beauty of the park makes for a good destination. Back-woods types listen up – it’s pretty darn nice and a cut above most State Park experiences. Fishermen and Fisherwomen, the Big Lake has monster Northerns that swim in and out of the estuary and hang just off shore in Superior.
Canoes can be rented by calling the number listed near the canoes just off Big Bay beach. Wild roses crown the hummocks in the estuary off the Big Lake.
Well folks, thanks for checking out the post. I can’t do those three days justice here – can’t be done. But Thank You to all who came up to mark the trip’s end. And Thank You to all who visited the blog from time to time to see if I was still alive and heading in the right direction. Here’s a final video of some punch-drunk travelers being terrorized by the rope end on the canoe tied-down. He became know as Ropey and has an honored place on our mantel. You’ll understand if you’ve ever driven a long, sleep-deprived return trip from what’s known as “the lake”, wherever that may be, in our part of the north country. Keep your paddle in the water. Corey