Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Ferry Nice Time

Miller Ferry Dock
3 October 2012

Yesterday, we rode the ferry to Put-in-Bay (aka South Bass Island).  From Miller Ferry Dock at Port Clinton.  I haven't been out to the islands in a half-century.  The last time involved a high school girlfriend, a broken heart, some adolescent behavior, and gloomy thoughts as the ferry chugged me and my broken heart back to Port Clinton, alone, on a very grey day that was absolutely perfect for my mood.  I wouldn't have minded if the Lake Erie Monster had leapt up out of the water, snapped me in his jaws, and carried me down to Monster Land, where I would become a between-meal snack for the Baby Monsters, who would battle like, well, like siblings to see who would get to eat my bloody broken heart, the choicest piece of me ... and so on.

This time, however, the sun peeked through now and then, and my heart, healed in 1969 when I met you-know-who, was pumping merrily away with only happy thoughts--and expectations.  We were heading to the island to see some rites related to abolitionist John Brown, whose son, John Brown, Jr., came here after Harpers Ferry--and stayed the rest of his life.  (His grave is here--alongside some of other family members; yes, we saw them.)

John Brown farm
North Elba, NY
Joyce has been working for several years on a book about John Brown--not a traditional biography, more a meditation on Brown, a most troubling historical figure.  Joyce, you see, has lived in three towns where Brown lived: Akron, Kent, Hudson.  And we have been all over the place the last few years, chasing the elusive Brown--from Harpers Ferry to Kansas (where some nasty deeds occurred at Pottawatomie Creek) to North Elba, NY, where he's buried on his former farm, now a state park.  From his grave you can see the ski jump area where our Olympic team trains at Lake Placid.  John Brown.  Ski jumping.  Not a connection you would ordinarily make.

But most of this is her story, so I will shut up about it.

Mostly, we've wandered around the very empty island (a Thursday in October is not a Big Time for Tourists) and have enjoyed the solitude, the conversations about Brown, about contemporary politics, about the wonder--and gratitude--we feel for this opportunity to pursue a passion. And to be together while doing so.

Cather cottage
Grand Manan Island
We have ridden other ferries for other passions.  Out to Nantucket on a Melville fling.  To Grand Manan Island to see where Willa Cather built a cottage and spent many summers writing.

And now to Put-in-Bay, where we chased John Brown, ate some of the toughest chicken that's ever challenged my teeth (had these birds been on the Olympic Chicken Team? they must have been working out!), roamed around in the soft sun and softer island breeze, and enjoyed, once again, the thrill of pursuing somethings that's racing through our minds.

And this afternoon--back on the ferry, back toward home, which, in the most meaningful sense of all, we have never left at all.

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