Sunday, June 10, 2007

The River Queen

Several tornadoes ripped through Wisconsin on Thursday night, including an F-3 that destroyed much of an area about 30 miles north of us. The forecasters had been predicting disastrous weather for days, and as the urgency reached near-hysteria, I had Doogie put a couple of blankets and flashlights in the basement just in case. Jesse and Molly took down all of our birdfeeders and hanging planters, but we didn't receive so much as a raindrop. Dad, who lives 8 miles away, had pouring rain while the sun shone brightly. It was an off mix of weather, and we are very grateful that we ended up with just some strong winds. The Red Cross is up there trying to help people put the pieces of their lives back together, but it's a poor area of the county. Even the local newspapers couldn't manage to drive up and take pictures of the devastation. This is a picture of the storm before it made it this far north.

Mia is with Mom today while Jesse works on his homework. I'm lazing about reading and enjoying the peacefulness of the day. We really enjoyed the new church this morning. The pastor was definitely moved by the Spirit. But we came on a contemporary service Sunday, and we both agree that we'd get a better feel for the church during a traditional service, so we'll be back in a few weeks. Next week we're going to a brand new church. It just started services in April as the combining of a few smaller churches. They have a beautiful new building, and I'm going to check it out this week when they have their first rummage sale.

The River Queen by Mary Morris is the tale of the author's journey to find something of her father as she boats down the Mississippi from northern Wisconsin to northern Kentucky. Morris' father passed away at the age of 102, but left unanswered questions about his childhood and his life. She decides to try and discover what it was about the Mississippi River that so caputred his imagination as a young man. She hires a houseboat, not quite the sparkling white, new model she was expecting, and two eccentric men to captain it down the river. Tom and Jerry (honest, that's their names) come with their own stories about the river (and Tom also brings along his dog Samantha Jean who he refers to as his spouse). Morris does an excellent job of mixing the story of her trek down the river with stories about her family as well as historical tidbits about the river and its denizens, making for a meandering tale that imitates the river itself. Some of her sidetracking includes intriguing people, like Bix Beiderbecke, who I found myself listening to last night. Morris, who is grieving the loss of her father and empty nest syndrome as her only daughter leaves for college, battles mayflies, tough memories and the differences between men and women with aplomb, but when it comes time to actually investigating her father's stories, only once in Hannibal, does she dig into them. Often when the time comes, she passes them by with small comment or observes as one of her shipmates does it for her. This is a fascinating tale of a woman's journey out of grief, but it would have been more compelling if she had spent more time looking for the long lost island and less time attacking tourist trap Hannibal, MO. Due to Hurricane Katrina, Morris is unable to fulfill her desire to travel the river to its end, and it feels like her journey ends without completion of either desire.

While surfing last night, I ran across this video. It's amazing, check it out.