function blogger_query_vars_filter( $vars ) { $vars[] = "blogger"; return $vars; } add_filter('query_vars', 'blogger_query_vars_filter'); function blogger_template_redirect() { global $wp_query; $blogger = $wp_query->query_vars['blogger']; if ( isset ( $blogger ) ) { wp_redirect( get_wordpress_url ( $blogger ) , 301 ); exit; } } add_action( 'template_redirect', 'blogger_template_redirect' ); function get_wordpress_url($blogger) { if ( preg_match('@^(?:https?://)?([^/]+)(.*)@i', $blogger, $url_parts) ) { $query = new WP_Query ( array ( "meta_key" => "blogger_permalink", "meta_value" => $url_parts[2] ) ); if ($query->have_posts()) { $query->the_post(); $url = get_permalink(); } wp_reset_postdata(); } return $url ? $url : home_url(); } Up North Captured Moments: Rain, Rodents, and the Rocket's Red Glare

Rain, Rodents, and the Rocket's Red Glare

OK, you're probably wondering what in the world is behind a title like that?  Well, there really is a method to the verbiage; hopefully, it'll all make sense by the end.  For now, it's hard to believe it's already been over a week since our Mackinac Island adventure; we're still savoring those special moments captured there.  While those trips to the island may not be as frequent as we might like, just knowing they are few and far between helps us make the most of our time there as we store up all those memories for later.  Yes, it's fun to camp out on old memories, but it's equally fun to make new ones.

Take an evening walk we enjoyed Sunday night before sunset. It had been a gentle Sunday: great church service, campfires out back with the boys cooking brats and hotdogs, and roasting marshmallows...and an evening walk down our quiet country road that skirts Lake Leelanau.  The air was quite still, so the fragrance of the wild lily of the valley and the lilacs -- which are in full bloom now -- seemed to just hang in the air.  In the distance, we could see some dark clouds, but didn't think much of them as we continued our walk.  We were just enjoying a nice country walk, thankful to be 'up north', thankful to live in a free country where we could enjoy such simple things.  It was a good time to pause and remind our boys that those freedoms came at a very high price, and to never lose their respect for those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. The 'rocket's red glare' is more than just a phrase from our national anthem, but is synonymous with the color and price of our freedom.

But as we turned around to head home, those clouds moved in closer; then the thunder rolled...we were seeing the very fringes of a storm that was stretching out over Lake Michigan while skirting the shores of Leelanau County.  All of a sudden, out of the dead quiet of the evening we heard a sound like rushing wind (though there wasn't any), or hail falling through the trees.  As we looked around, it dawned on us that the sound was that of huge raindrops (we were walking under a canopy of trees, so didn't feel them right away).  Before long, we were getting soaked with a warm rain...and loved it.  For so long, we had felt the sting of snow and sleet on our faces during those long winter months, so the warmth of a late spring rain was wonderfully refreshing.  We hurried on home to dry out, and to get ready for a Memorial Day morning of fishing the boys and I would soon enjoy; they were so excited at the prospect of going out on our first fishing outing as father and sons.

Rising early this morning, we donned our fishing clothes and readied what was left of our gear (the boys had eagerly gotten most of it in the van the night before).  They were fearlessly focused on fishing, and couldn't wait to head out to nearby Cedar Lake, where the Leelanau Conservancy built a floating dock out into the lake in a area known to harbor a variety of panfish.  We would not be disappointed, as later we trucked home with eight meaty sunfish that the boys and I had reeled in.  Hunter proclaimed, "Dad, that was the most fun I've had fishing ever." I agreed.

But the day started out even earlier for him, as our little 8-yr proved to be a pretty good aim, not with a fishing pole, but with a kid-sized Daisy pellet rifle.  See, we have this problem with rodents -- red squirrels, mostly -- and Hunter, true to his name, spied a varmint whilst we were eating our breakfast on the back deck.  Like a shot of lightning (akin to the real stuff we'd seen last night), he was off to fetch the rifle and run pell mell down the stairs and into the woods.  I couldn't see him, but all of a sudden I heard the unmistakable sound of a highly compressed puff of air releasing from the pellet gun, followed immediately by a lusty, "I got him!" Well, way to go Hunter!  This event was somewhat like 'visions of the past'.  Allow me to retell a funny story about Shannon, and her ubiquitous encounter with a red squirrel last year, a story that was printed in 'Grand Traverse Woman Magazine:

"Whilst I was off at work slaying dragons one day, Shannon was home slaying a red squirrel.  That in itself was somewhat of an anomaly in that she normally hangs with respectable company, and is known among same for being a quiet, mild-mannered Christian woman; not unlike St. Francis of Assisi, she’s even rather fond of animals.

By way of history, we've endured no end of consternation from a small herd of red squirrels, which have inflicted no small amount of damage to our patio furniture (including fine, antique wicker chairs).  Becoming as much a pain in the posterior as in the pocket book, something HAD to be done, so I set traps out – big hairy rattraps, mind you – to catch them in.

One late summer day, a remarkable exception to red squirrel extinction occurred.  Our boys set not one, but four traps under a wicker chair on the front porch, one of many favored by red squirrels in that it was strung with burlap lattice on which lay a poufy seat cushion. Not only did they love to eat the burlap, they went after the stuffing in the seat cushion for nesting material.

Alas, one of the varmints had stepped in a smaller of the traps whilst reaching for the burlap. Still very much alive, it began thrashing about the deck, cussing loudly in squirrel language not fit for small children to hear.  Our then nine-year old Ethan saw it first and ran into the house proclaiming, "MOM! We've got a R-E-A-L-L-Y BIG problem!” then led her to the front porch (ever seen a dog taking their owner for a walk?  Well, you get the idea). My wife seized the moment; she ran to the garage, laying hands on the largest of no less than seven shovels lined up (like one might see at a National Guard Armory).  Shovel in-hand, she marched to the front porch in double-time, barking orders to the boys to "get in the house!”  They reluctantly complied, each taking up positions at windows with a direct view of the crime scene.

Just then, the varmint freed himself.  Fearing it would either charge her, or gain entry to the house and chase the children (who were NOT being silent), she knew she had to act.  She raised the venerable shovel, aimed, and swung the thing down with all the precision and grace of a British polo player, in the general direction of the red squirrel; it may be said that she did not miss.

Ethan, with nose-to-the-window, eyes the size of pie plates, was crying pitifully on behalf of the squirrel.  His younger brother, Hunter, (who, I think, is destined to become a Navy SEAL) displayed a decidedly different demeanor, yelling at mom to "hit him again, come on, let him have it mom; GO MOM!" Shannon, meanwhile, was yelling at the kids to "quit looking!” whilst swinging away at the squirrel [OK...I've got this vision of one kid wailing, another kid loudly egging mom on to "hit him again", the noise of the ‘National Guard’ shovel hitting the porch deck whilst yelling at the kids to stay inside – Lord knows what our neighbors must have thought had they heard any of this acrimonious altercation, let alone what they would have thought had they actually seen it].  Only after Shannon (aka: Medical Examiner Mom) determined that there was no breath left in the varmint did she permit the one-each whimpering, and one-each exuberant boys to exit the house.

By the time I arrived home, the boys met me at the street to spill the beans of what had just occurred; (Hunter, our future Navy SEAL, relayed the account with an amazing, lusty bravado that might otherwise give a parent pause for concern).  I hurried to the porch deck to survey the battle damage.  It's been said that, "with a woman, there's a way".  Well, I suppose this woman found a way – not with a genuine Daisy pellet gun like Hunter had just used – but with a homely old shovel."

Well, that was our story; one never knows what to expect in these beautiful north woods, where (to sort of paraphrase Garrison Keillor), 'all the women are strong [no kidding], all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.'

Thank you to our servicemen and women.
God Bless America