Itasca Park

THIS MORNING WE ONCE AGAIN FIND OURSELVES BACK IN THE WARM, SULTRY CONFINES OF THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES. Yesterday we took our face masks and hand sanitizer and Kathy’s 45 miles per gallon hybrid and traveled to a sister church, the Cathedral of the Really Big Pines—Itasca Park. It has been a special place for us for all our marriage, and it was great to return. We were saddened to see that some of our favorite great trees—the State Champion White and Red Pines, and the grand old pine that leaned over the steps from the Lodge down to the lake, and others, were no more, cut down by windstorms. But many great stands of trees remain, as do the gem-like ice-block lakes, the winding roads and trails, the old lodge and cabins. In many places, we felt we had the park nearly to ourselves. Others, like the Headwaters, were crowded, and we thought if donning our masks, but instead passed them by. On the way home, we stopped at Wabedo Lake, where my grandparents from southern Illinois started the whole family ‘going up north’ tradition in the 1930s. The present-day resort owner there believes she may have photos of my family in old albums going back to 1934. We will see.

Meanwhile, today we are back home among our own pines—a bit smaller than those of Itasca, but still towering and inspirational, and in our own log cabin—the sort of place my grandparents could only dream of, or travel two days to reach. Our young eagles are screeching and dodging the bluejays who dive-bomb their heads. The broad wing hawk keens. The chipmunks wait at our feet, waiting for Kathy to put out the seeds and peanuts. Woodpeckers feed their young fledged ones, mouth to mouth. The hummingbird’s hum, the red squirrels’ trill, the nuthatches converse, and the butterflies float. And it is good to call such a place home. And to attend Sunday services. Good Sabbath to you.

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