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Three Day Blow


We're having a three day blow right now in my corner of Michigan. The wind is up in the 20 -30 mph range and clouds are flying across the sky. Its cold and the smell of winter coming is everywhere. Leaves decaying, damp soil, wood burning. The Big Lake is roaring - I can hear it even though I'm five miles away. A constant, low decibel growl just below the howl of the wind. It susserates like a giant's heart. Days like this remind me of one of my favorite Hemingway stories, "The Three Day Blow" in which two characters spend a blustery fall day in Michigan in a cabin in the UP getting drunk and ruminating upon life, love and baseball. A typical early story from Hemingway where the substrate of the tale carries the emotional weight but is never alluded to directly in the narrative. "The Three Day Blow" was included in a collection of early Hemingway works, "The Nick Adams Stories" which dealt mostly with growing up in Michigan at the beginning of the 20th century. The Nick Adams character is obliquely patterned after Hemingway himself and his experiences as a young man growing up. I first read the book when I was a high school freshman and it was one of the things that began my fascination with Michigan and my eventual need to live here. I still read stories from that book on occasion even though I've long since discovered Hemingway's enormous feet of clay. I added him to my long list of tarnished heroes - Fitzgerald, Thompson (both Hunter and Jim), Lester Bangs, Lou Reed, etc., on and on. Earlier I was dismayed and disgusted by their frailty and humanness, but eventually I grew up. I take them all in now- warts and all. I enjoy them for the pleasure they've given me. Hemingway's writing is still tremendous and I have good memories associated with many of his tales.

There is a scene in the first part of "The Three Day Blow" where the characters are standing on the porch of the cabin looking out over the wooded fields. They are eating apples they picked from a nearby orchard. Such a typical activity for this time of year and I'm no different than scores of other Michiganders who head out to a local orchard to pick fresh apples and to get out in the autumn weather. Zoe and I made the annual apple pilgrimage yesterday just as the weather began to fall apart and the wind was starting to come up. It was an ideal day for apple picking. Z-girl kept remarking about how great the weather was and how much she loved this time of year. She said she looked forward to the coming winter. I love Fall the most, but I dread the winter. I used to ski, snowshoe and all of that sort of thing, but I don't anymore. Now I just sit inside looking out the window at the blowing snow girding my loins for the next time I have to go out in it to drive somewhere or blow snow or walk to work. I'm way over winter's charms. They have no appeal for me now.

We spent about an hour out in the orchard picking Fuji, Mutsu, and a new variety called Cameo. I love the names they give apples. So evocative. Braeburn, Honey Crisp, Sweet Tango, Golden Delicious... We ended up with about 40 apples and between the two of us they'll all be gone by next week and we'll likely make one more apple run around Halloween. Then I'll get some baking apples and make some pie and applesauce. Zoe wants to see if she can make apple cupcakes of some sort. Delicious times ahead.


Oct. 16th, 2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
Yes, the terroir is part of the mix. I've just always felt a tug from this place. I could go on and on. There is another place calling me now. Someplace out West - but I think that has more to do with being warm all year 'round more than any mystical connection. Although, I found the area around St. George UT to be otherwordly and siren-like in its pull for me just as Michigan still is... the terroir there is, however, more akin to dust than to anything that would harbor the scent or taste of life.

Zoe's the one who suggested the apple picking with me. She reminded me that we hadn't gone last year and that she missed it. She has always enjoyed socializing with me. I don't know why, exactly. Partially its probably because from a very early age her mother and I would take her everywhere with us. I can count on one hand the times we got babysitters for her. Mostly because we couldn't afford it, and her mother was neurotic about leaving her with "strangers". Actually, these days, she spends more time with friends and such than she does with me. But we still manage to squeeze in a movie together or some such about every three weeks. And we have a sort of tradition where we go out to breakfast two Sundays out of the month to catch up on family biz - school stuff, work stuff, etc. Its our version of church.

She's going to Europe - I couldn't very well let her go through the audition process and then not let her go. Its a lot of money, but its important to me that she's able to have the experience. I've never been - and I regret not going when I was younger. I should have gone there to work and become a better chef. But alas, that never happened. I want this for her - I think she's old enough that it'll mean something. Hopefully, she won't be like her cousin who went on a grand tour with her mother and took away virtually nothing other than a strengthened sense of entitlement. I'll never forget the block of "real" Swiss chocolate my niece proudly, haughtily showed me, her chef uncle, and me pointing out the Nestle's USA label on it and asking her if she got it while visiting Euro-Disney.