Water, Water Everywhere: Postcard from Up North

Come quick. Summers are brief and yesterday fall bullied the breeze. Bring your swimsuit and fins—there are 84,000 miles of river and 15,000 lakes plus Lake Michigan.

Last week, we followed the whiff of Milwaukee River water to the Screaming Tuna where we ate sushi just feet from the yacht dock. Twice during lunch a movable bridge creaked, separated and rose into the sky while boats chugged under. It felt like another era when we spied a bridge operator in his house, watching traffic and throwing switches.

Sunday, we joined the lederhosen and dirndl crowd at the lakefront. Organ grinders cranked German tunes while food vendors roasted hogs in open pits. The scent of sizzling skin itched my nose and the spanferkel satisfied my salt craving—but I couldn’t stomach eating the pig’s head, his eyes staring back. Later, I imagined Munich as we polka’d to accordions, fingered and bellowed by men in Tyrolean hats.

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Today, we biked to a county park and slid into a spring-fed pond. Fish nibbled my ankles as geese floated by and honked. On the beach, toddlers built sandcastles while their parents grilled bratwurst over fumy charcoal flames.

Chicagoans call this Up North, but the term is relative—locals drive another six hours to camp in the Chequamegon Forest on Lake Superior.

 

by Nancy Jorgensen

 

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Nancy Jorgensen
is a musician and writer. Her choral music education books are published by Hal Leonard Corporation and Lorenz Corporation. Her fiction and essays appear in Prime Number Magazine, Smith Magazine, With Painted Words, The Milwaukee Journal, and elsewhere. She is currently marketing a memoir of daughter Gwen Jorgensen’s journey to 2016 Olympic gold.

 

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