Last week the wind shifted, the light changed, and now it is fall. It's very dark when I get up at 5:30, but lovely at 7 when Riley and I take our morning walk. The light is golden, and the wildflowers along the edge of the lake are yellow and orange, no longer the pinks and baby blues of spring.
It was a short, odd summer--a cold April and May, a very wet June, and a sultry steamy Delta-like July, too hot to do anything but lie around in front of the fan, sipping on a lemonade and calling languidly for more ice. (Which nobody brought.)
Only August was the lovely summer that we had been hoping for since Memorial Day, bright day after bright day of 80 degrees and low humidity, great for walking, for biking, for packing in all of those things that we were prevented from doing earlier in the season.
And so August went by in a flash, 31 days unspooled quickly, like shaking out a roll of ribbon. Erik came to visit for four days, and then the next weekend I went up the North Shore for three days with my friend Kristi, and then it was State Fair time, and now, as I said, it is fall.
The North Shore trip was so that I could do a book signing at the tiny bookstore in Grand Marais, but Kristi and I turned it into a full weekend of wandering the galleries of the town, and having drinks on the roof of the Gunflint Tavern, and walking in the woods and along the lakeshore, and talking pretty much nonstop.
One morning she did yoga on the beach (free with our hotel room) but me, I am less ambitious, and I sat on our little balcony and drank cup after cup of coffee and read a book and stared out at the glittering lake.
The nights were warm, so warm we didn't need jackets. We sat out on the beach in front of a bonfire and stared up at the stars. It did not feel like the North Shore, which is usually a rugged and woodsy visit for me; it felt like an indulgent getaway on the California coast. Not that I'm complaining.
On Saturday afternoon we stopped at the county art museum, where we wandered through an exhibit of a local artist named Alice Powell. She had an amazing range of style--it looked like an exhibit of four or five quite different artists--but one image in particular captivated me. It was of birch trees along the lake shore, in the autumn--the lake was that gunmetal blue that it becomes in the fall, and the grass was golden brown, and the whole thing so beautifully captured the North Shore during the time of year that we most often visit that I just stood in front of that painting and stared and stared.
I surreptitiously took its picture. Back at our hotel room, I emailed the photo to Doug. "I want this painting," I wrote. "But it seems presumptuous to buy a painting and bring it home and put it on the wall and make you look at it every day if you don't like it too. So I didn't buy it."
The next morning, I got an email in return. It was a photo of Boscoe, and the message said only, "Buy the painting, Sweetie."
But it was too late! The museum didn't open on Sunday until 1 p.m., and Kristi and I were due to pull out of town by 11.
I looked at the photo again. I really wanted that painting. And it occurred to me...
The guy who runs the museum had come to my reading at the bookstore the night before. He seemed like a jolly, friendly guy. I sent him an email. "I want to buy that painting, but we are leaving town this morning," I wrote.
Within minutes, the phone in our hotel room rang. "I can meet you at the museum right after church," he said. "Church gets out at 11:30. I won't even stop to shake the minister's hand."
And so he did. Kristi and I packed up our room, checked out of the hotel, took a little walk along the breakfront, and then dallied at the rocky beach in front of the museum until the door opened and the museum director waved us in.
He wrapped up the painting, I handed over my smoking credit card, and then we hit the road.
I think it looks great on our living room wall, a lovely reminder of a lovely little trip, and of a beautiful place.