On the road to the Adirondacks and Vermont, I had the pleasure to see lots of things and think about what I might say and write about them. Convenient Internet is not a feature of the North Woods, however, and I was unable to translate any of this into timely blog entries. The Chipmunks were more than willing to transmit messages via the chip-chat network but I find that this type of communication tends to end at major roadway crossings. So, I did the journal thing and wrote down some thoughts with the idea that I would later post them into a set of “things I would have written” and treat them as part a stream of consciousness. So, here are some of those things. I will post them every few days.
Sept. 4 Lake Erie State Park, New York
Here in the wild homelands of the extinct Erie Nation, the eastern end of the lake is vastly different from the western end of the beast. The rolling shoreline topography supports countless vineyards. The beaches lap upon slabs of table rock and dramatic sheer cliffs (see above scene). This place looks good – even in the pouring rain.
Sheepshead appear to be the dominant fish of these coastlines – they are, at least, the dominant dead fish in these parts. The beaches are peppered with their hollow dried carcasses. Each fish promised a unique crop of “lucky stones.” Lest you sneer at poking about the dried innards of a dead fish, I remind you that a dead beach fish is only a few weeks removed from the simmering one upon your frying pan. I also remind you that the thing is dried and more like beef jerky than rotten sushi.
Lucky stones are actually ototliths, or ear stones. These pearl-like structures come from the inner ear of the fish and act as a balance aide. Some folks mount them in jewelry or carry them about in their pockets. While some are offered for the plucking from disintegrating skulls others have been naturally separated and can be found in the clean washed sand. I guess that the idea of a luckless fish producing a lucky ornamentsis akin to a luckless rabbit yielding one of its treasured feet.
On a more terrestrial note, the ornamental crab trees about the campground are Central Station for the resident squirrels. Fattened on the red fruits, both Red and Grey Squirrels are lazing about. The Greys are the larger, and portlier of the two. The belly overhang on the lackadaisical Grey Squirrel pictured below speaks for itself. A particular Red Squirrel defensively hugged her branch upon spotting me (see above). This tactic only works when the danger is directly below, and not off to the side, so the stunt looked silly.
A single Red-headed Woodpecker stopped by to sample the fruits but was less than willing to put up with my presence. It pondered my bulk for a few seconds while perched in a nearby Red Pine (riddled with Sapsucker holes, you may notice). This splendid bird, even though in the same state of teror as the Red Squirrel hugging the branch, certainly looked more dignified.