The sun was setting behind a tattooed tree
And the simple stroke of the oar put diamonds in the sea
And all because of the phosphorus there in quantity
As I dug you dig me in Mexico
– Donovan from “Sand and Moss”
Well, it’s not Punta Mita, but I’ve been sequestered on the quiet shores of nearby Lost Lake for a good chunk of a week and I’m so gentle I can start to ripen and rot. In the right direction.
That said, we’re going to tear up my little cope today. There is no wifi in the cabin, so I had to come home and peck it with my gnarled neuropathic fingers in order to fill out my officium scriptoris.
And, you know, get paid.
But first this.
I turned 70 a week ago. While I received many gracious wishes from my family and friends, one letter stood out from the rest. Deb came back from checking our mail and put a small envelope from me addressed simply to: Don Negus, Remus, MI 49340.
While my writing skills are far from his, I remembered a letter Sam Clemens received addressed to: Mark Twain, God only knows where.
Several months later, the sender received this terse response from Twain: “He did it.”
From the postmark, mine took almost two weeks to reach me, but that’s what I did. My birthday. I tore it up to find a small piece of paper with a short handwritten message on it. That’s what he said :
I just want you to know that I enjoy your Saturday columns.
I am 95 years old but I still love the newspaper!
I just wanted to say ‘hello’ and ‘keep going’. ‘
Ada Morey “
It was hands down my best birthday present this year. I liked it. Debbie loved it. I almost cried. I said “ALMOST”. I’m way too hard for that (snort).
Ada, thank you very much. It meant a lot to me. I wish you trucks full of health and happiness.
OK, I’m going to take a cold and watch the Tigers game until I regain my emotional equanimity.
I returned. The Tigers won another. Took his third series in a row. The boys have been really fun to watch the past few months.
Woo-hoo, 300 words to go, then I’ll grab a pizza from the new Crusty’s here in town and head back to the lake.
Debbie is very excited about fishing. She hasn’t done it for years. All I have is fly fishing gear so I bought him a nice fishing rod and reel. Yesterday I went to nearby Barryton looking for hooks, sinkers and maybe a spinner or two.
A word about Barryton. It is a small village about 11 miles north of Remus on the M-66. Although it was a real business 75 years ago, with two car dealerships and a hotel, it finally got through some tough times and when Deb and I returned to Michigan in 1994 it looked like it was ready to dry up and s ‘fly away.
After various efforts to revive it since then, with varying levels of success, I’m happy to report that Barryton was positively animated. The biggest surprise of all was Barryton Hardware. It is housed in a classic wooden building, growing 100 years old, and looked as fit as I would imagine it to be on the day it opened. I walked in, looking for my hooks and. . . I was dazzled.
Since I came back from the west there have been several owners and a few years of closure. When opened, the stock was often meager.
This is no longer the case. It’s chock-full of merchandise, literally filled with everything that could be called a hardware store price. It reminded me of a beautiful 19th century general store. There were dozens of fishing rods. There was a whole 12 foot section of fishing supplies – hooks, sinkers, line, lures. It was the equal of many sporting goods stores.
I would have liked to have spent the whole day there. I was so impressed with the look of the place and the quantity and quality of the merchandise there, I can honestly say it should be a local destination.
Go over there.
And so on.
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