As we near the pier and the Isle Royale at dock, Juliet rubs the hinge of her jaw in the small space before one ear and casts keen eyes towards the horizon. Though it's sunny, strong squalls are dragging hard at protective tarps strapped down over awaiting cargo on the docks. Men cling to their hats, and women to those and their billowing skirts and I see several clots of sailors watching the surface of the lake with a weather eye.
"I feel it too. Climate's shifted." Outside, the vicious sporatic winds have the flags along the pier and on nearby buildings snapping wildly, often standing stiffly from their grommets as though laid out horizontally rather than hung vertically.
The driver negotiates the car as close to the dock as he can get, then bids us wait and charges down to the Isle Royale's extended gangplank, the wind pushing at his back as he holds his cap i
*Sam*The Isle Royale tosses fitfully on the rough waters long after I soothe Juliet into an exhausted sleep.Alert to the subtlest changes in the steamer and the violent squall outside us, I lay awake the next several hours listening to the high hum of the engines at full. Against this storm, even this early in the season, I don’t anticipate much chance of survival were the Isle Royale to go down—I don’t even anticipate much opportunity to try—but if there is one, I’m ensuring Juliet gets it. God knows I’ve seen people survive worse and compassionate though she is, she’s a fighter.Into the soupy blackness pierced at intervals by the ship’s great spotlight sweeping about it in a circle, the whistle continues to sound regularly, accompanied by the random calls of sailors—“Ice floe to starboard!”— and fro
*Juliet*When Sam wakes a few hours later, we dress and wander the interior decks, just for the sake of walking. The salon market is considerably subdued, though the newsstand, refreshed with new material since our stop in Chicago, still does a brisk business, as does the soda vendor, through primarily in his stock of candy, particularly the sour drops, which seem to help those afflicted with sea sickness.“Mr. Hammond, Mrs. Hammond,” the captain greets as we make our way past the crew’s quarters. “I trust you’ve had more enjoyable travel today than yesterday.”Captain Blake falls in beside us, and though his stride is brisker, Sam urges ours to keep pace. “You’re looking better rested. Does that mean conditions are improving?”“I’ve only just received word there’s ice in the str
*Sam*It’s frigid in the bathroom when I wake later, even with the steamer’s heating blowing with a soft whooshing through the vents. Beneath me, Juliet’s still fast asleep, mostly sheltered from the worst of the chill by my body and the thick pile of towels underneath us. I watch her for a peaceful moment, the relaxed line of her lush full mouth, the rise and fall of her chest, the gorgeous tumble of raven hair about her head.A single bright sterling strand peeks from among the silken darkness surrounding it—it’s the first gray hair I’ve seen on her head. Given our ages, it’s not a surprise in any capacity beyond I wonder what took it so long. I’ve been going gray since my late twenties.I blame Julia, even though she’s only four.With my entire body, not just the part directly impacted, I objec
*Junior*Everybody in the township knows the original church, Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, was build on the hill beyond the cemetery from where the historical building stands now. It was an actual log cabin structure—which, in the 1840s in a logging community, nobody’s surprised—and it burned a year after it was constructed. Naturally, since people don’t learn, another was erected on the same spot. That one made it ten years before it burned to the ground, but by that time, the township was firmly established and a wood frame structure was built where the current church stands.On the high ground location of the original site, a rectory and a barn was erected, and a parish priest was permanently assigned to the township by the Catholic diocese because by that time, this township was the largest of the four that intersect here. When the wood frame structure burned another de
*Juliet*Though it had come early with the whiteout squall Sam and I’d had on the Isle Royale, the winter started out like any other. Children and adults alike brought their snow gear out of the cedar chests and armoirs and prepared to salt the streets and sidewalks.Driving was a bit more treacherous, but we’re used to this inconvenience, and with Julia still at home another year before kindergarten, Sam and I had only rare occasion to leave home anyway, weekly for mass and once a month for groceries and pantry staples. And it wouldn’t be the winter season without a few cold-weather aggravations as far as we were concerned.True to his word, with nothing else to do on the farm, Sam tore our bathroom apart and built a fine vanity with double sinks and a GE Textolite countertop. He made a special trip to the city and brought home and installed shining
*Juliet*Yawning quietly, I snuggle under the covers against Sam’s broad warm back a few minutes longer, watching with disappointment as the creeping sunrise brightens our bedroom. The mere fact that he’s still asleep after dawn and after me, tells me more than I know he wants about how he felt going to bed last night. It was sign enough he blocked the stairs to keep Ajax upstairs with us, but when he went back down for his second pistol he usually keeps downstairs, it was a sure tell he was considerably worried. We'll both be chasing a nap later this afternoon.Catching the rancid musky odor was enough to relax me. I’m confident at this point it was some sort of stray animal that made its way along the house while we were at Stew and Alice’s to watch the Christmas specials, and I feel bad that Sam didn’t rest well over something as common out here as that.
*Juliet*A gust of wind picks up my braid and sets my skirts clinging to my legs as Sam and I follow Julia and Ajax to the truck across the front lawn’s yellowed grass. Overhead, it drags at the last few dried leaves clinging to the bare maple branches, rustling them ominously. “Wind’s picked up,” I mention mildly.“And shifted direction,” Sam adds. “Julia, you’re too little for that. Wait for Mommy or me to open the door.” He jogs ahead and scooping our wayward daughter up around her middle with one arm, tucks her into a giggling squirming football carry, swinging her just a little wildly out of the way just so he can get a thrilled squeal out of her as he opens the driver's side door.Righting her on her small feet, he gives her a light smack on the bottom. “Now, you can get in. Ajax.” With a graceful bound,
*Junior*I had no idea where I was going when I ran off after the trainman yelled at me. And frankly, I’m not all that certain I knew where I was anymore. I don’t remember even seeing Father Brennan’s house. Or the church. And I didn’t run through the cemetery or see the train tracks or the shops along Main Street. My head wasn’t particularly clear.