Memorial Day in the rain, all day, and lots of it. Last night at dinner we were enjoying Rustic Italian Chicken when Lonnie said, “Wolf.” Sure enough a large one was crossing the campus just west of us and then turned east walked down a paved road to the two-track that runs up Blackberry Ridge, and stopped to look at Lonnie who had grabbed the binos instead of the camera. Beautiful and bold animal to walk across campus in broad daylight. Then we saw a pine grosbeak, our first ever. Quite a night. Today was a lounger. Some photos follow:
So far this year…
The dragon is dead.
But our thoughts are not so much with the legendary fire-breather who has flown off to new fields and battles, but with Yvonne, the dragon’s helpmate, right-hand-woman, and mother of their eight children, grande dame of a huge extended, loving family.
I first met the dragon in 1958. He was my football, basketball and baseball coach, and my world history teacher. There was this gorgeous little woman who danced in his massive shadow. This was Yvonne, who left the limelight to her firebreather and spent a great deal of her life providing love and steel guidance to their eight children while the dragon attended to hundreds, and thousands of children entrusted to him as teacher, coach, principal, superintendent and in larger educational roles.
A stroke took the reach of the dragon’s fire down a bit some years ago, but he never quit battling to get back and he never lost his spirit in the fight, living the very thing he had taught so many of us. With the dragon in a wheelchair, Yvonne remained steadfast, positive, encouraging, loving, and caring a living example of the untranslatable sisu.
The dragon was Ed Jarvie.
He died yesterday in Traverse City.
He was 87.
I have had the privilege in my life to serve three men, three amazing leaders, I would willingly have followed anywhere. And did. Ed Jarvie was the first.
He was physically small, had a kind of chip on shoulder and fire in his eyes and voice, which could empty a room, or silence a classroom, a gymn, an auditorium, a stadium. He could have silenced a crowd in Grand Canyon if needed.
Coach not only demanded all-out, balls-to-the-wall effort, but a focus for that effort on excellence.
He was not a man so focused on outcomes as much as on preparation, believing that if he could help make his teams the best conditioned, best trained, most disciplined, and played every minute of every game at maximum effort, the outcomes would take care of themselves.
Coach was right. We lost only six games in three seasons and once ripped off a skein of 22 straight. Never did I hear him down on us after a close loss, and they were all close losses. In our hearts we never actually lost, only ran out of time. Sisu, eh?
We played in a giant log cabin, which is gone now.
We shot and charted free throws every day. We ran every day. We had double practices on most Wednesdays, the standard practice after school, a quick bite to eat at the café in town and back to the old log cabin for the Wednesday picnic where we focused on technique and on being together.
Every drill and exercise had a game-related correlation and purpose.
Folks think Tom Izzo invented jungle basketball. He didn’t. Tommy grew up playing U.P. basketball where jungle rebounding and hard, unrelenting physical play were the norm, games the equivalent of wars between city states.
Ed Jarvie instilled in me several enduring life lessons.
You play as you practice, so practice honestly, and hard.
Detail is the face and force of preparation.
The game is won in the mind and heart, but carried by the legs and lungs.
Officials are to be respected at all times.
All teammates are equal.
Our foes are honorable and should be treated thusly
If you give your all, accept the result.
These were wonderful lessons to learn when we were so young.
But Jarvie was every bit as much demanding in the classroom as in the gym or on the playing field. I took world history from him 57 years ago and I swear I still think about Hammurabi’s Code and fist hatchet, every bloody day of my life.
Only this morning did it finally dawn on my why these two very disparate facts.
Hammurabi made 282 laws. Jarvie had nearly as many and, like Hammurabi, he believed in innocent until proven guilty. Do you understand? he would ask a player and student. If not, he would go over it again, and as many times as needed until whatever it was finally got driven into a skull. From then on, you were responsible for maintaining and using that knowledge. I tried to work with my players in the same detailed, unrelenting way. Jarvie taught us that the games would be highly physical, but winning would come out of mental preparation. We changed offensive and defensive schemes after every basket, after our baskets and after our opponent’s. We were by design damn near impossible to prepare for. The outcome of the game, he taught, always came down to change and how quickly a team could adapt, and to momentum, How fast you could grab it and how long you could hold on to it.
The “fist hatchet” (also called a hand ax) was the most advanced weapon of the Stone Age. It was made of flint and had a sharp edge, but that edge had to be created and maintained and the tool took smarts and muscle to employ. We were Jarvie’s fist hatchet. Flint is one of Nature’s hardest and most enduring substances. That fits.
And now Ed is gone, our magnificent dragon, and we mourning his passing and celebrate his life and love, his attention, and his respect, and send our sympathies to Yvonne and the Jarvie clan.
While he may be gone, the dragon will live in my heart. Ed helped make me who I am. His memory will keep me on course. We began as teacher to student and ended as friends.
Thanks my Friend and Coach: I hope your new team’s got a whistle for you.
Bites and barks are different animals. And a dragon’s fire-spitting may warm your behind, but it will never burn you. Most people never get to have a real dragon in their lives. Lucky me. Damn, inexplicably, blind-ass lucky.
So few words as a remembrance of Ed Jarvie, a remarkable man who masqueraded as a dragon: It doesn’t seem nearly enough.
At 0600 I wondered when the hummers would show. Answer: 0603. Beautiful! Shaksper is outside…eating snow, his fave.
I got blackfly bites last night on my hand, and this morning we have this gift from Ma. Over. (I wish)
TTThird Planet From The Sun, ALBERTA — Monday, May 18, 2015 – Writing is a peculiar damn game and all of us immersed in it have similar, yet distinct and unique ways of approaching the game. The 10th Grady Service will be out next spring, under the title of Buckular Dystrophy. And it was my intention to use this spring to write the third Lute Bapcat tale, but something kept gnawing at the back of my mind, wondering what happens to Grady after Buckular ends, because it ends on a dark and nasty note. This weekend I was re-reading David Landis Barnhill’s Basho’s Journey: The Literary Prose of Matsuo Basho, and this morning just before sunrise something jumped out at me and said, “Take me!”
Basho is a famous and great Japanese poet of nature, and a fine prose stylist as well. He lived 1644-1694 and wandered (he called it wayfaring) all over Japan for his poetic inspiration in places.
In his little ditty, entitled, “Preface to Lightning.” Basho wrote, “At Honma Shume’s house, hanging on the back wall of a No stage, is a portrait of skeletons playing flute and drum. Is human life any different than the sporting of skeletons? Zhuangzi used a skull for his pillow and didn’t distinguish dream from reality – truly this evokes the character in our lives.”
The Sporting of Skeletons lept out to me and I have taken it for the title of the 11th Grady Service book. Fits perfectly, though I can’t yet explain why because most of the book is still swimming in my inner swamp, but my gut tells me it fits the story and all it involves, so for now I will stick with it, and frankly it feels so solid I’m pretty sure this is the title for No. 11. It feels so good to give birth this painless way.
Here’s the first part of the story, so you can get a flavor of how one writer’s head works (if not why):
DTBD, Sometime in the late winter of 2009
Slippery Creek Camp
His suspension now in effect, the unexpected hiatus left Grady Service with nothing to do after decades of action, his ship dead in the water, becalmed, perhaps permanently, and then came the headaches, sudden, blinding, painful, a hurt beyond the reach of any known drugs or therapies. Endure, he told himself. Just get through this, but something deep down was also telling him not to sit back, to fight. And for one of the few times in his life he had no idea how or who, much less what.
Adding to the pain, he suddenly felt no identity, had no purpose, was reduced to a lump of human protoplasm taking up valuable space on an overpopulated planet.
Limpy Allerdyce held the thing in two hands, like a supplicant to his master. “Dis take care dose headaches, Sonny, you betcha.”
“A human skull for Chrissakes?” What is wrong with this old man?
“Yah sure, you betcha.”
“How my ‘posed know, Ind’in? Dunno. Real old.”
“You know it’s against the law to possess human body parts.”
The old man winced. “Ain’t no meat on ‘er, jes old head bone.”
“Where in the Mosquito?
“Have to show. Don’t got words for place.”
“When did you find it?”
“Twinnyfuckin’ Questions? Wit’ youse’s old man in da way back.”
“My old man knew about this?”
“Yah sure, he know all sorts places got ole bones, he don’t pay no attention.”
“He knew where all the bars and taverns were.”
“You betcha, they important to ‘im. Old bones, nobody give two shits. Youse need take dis fella, use ‘im for pillow.”
Service drew back in disgust. “I’m not sleeping on a skull.”
“Youse’s choice. Youse one wit’ da head-pounders.”
“How do you know it’s from a man?”
“Who else gets seff killed in woods? Take look, dat slicy t’ing dere, like knife, mebbe, tomahawk bonk on noggin, hey.”
Service looked, examined the thing after a while asked, “Is it clean?”
What was it Treebone always preached, “Nothing working, try something else.”
He doubted his old friend would put a human skull under his head. No chance of that.
So there you go, a quick-and dirty look into one creative mind on a Monday morning, exactly how it came out of the noodle and into electrons, no proofing, nada, the true alpha of a book. Over.
Took a ride over to Michigamee today, and worked our way back. Beautiful Yooper bluebird sky and nice temps. Blackflies EVERYWHERE! Dave Stimac (Nature’s Way) picked up five birdeye maple logs and you can see how foresters can sometimes ID birdeye in the woods. Some pix from the day. Over.
Weekend Edition over Coffee& Bird Feeders in the North Woods
Voice over music
It makes for sound sleep
Rising suns warm all small things
Lay off the hummers
Siskins flit en masse
Buzz like feathered dildo
They distract all thought
Twelve-grain bread toasting
Ambrosial plume spreading
We drool the want-swoon
We hear Grand Mufti
Are there lower-down rankings
Say De-pa-dee Dude?
Birds of a feather
Serious haiku written]
Tying flies naked
Painting air so damn life-like
Canvas looks empty
Term you’ll never hear again
Ha, forget it now
Lack of Honor there
Prophets flock to easels here
Painting truths they know
Many rocks to roll
Your job secure Sisyphus
Why the sourpuss?
Jack and Jamieson
Two lads asleep in their cups
Quaffing not casting
Birch bones up green flesh
Makes one think they hold up life
Blue sky pushes down
Words springing to life
A dictionary of stuff
We can seldom see
Saturday night six
Prairie Home Companion
Here’s your father, Duane
Playing With Haiku, Baseball and Such
First line must be five
Followed then by seven
To end on five beats
Gray clouds overhead
Line moving slowly away
Bed of hardest slate
Soft grass pillow my head feels
The best gate a mind
Flyballs Texas up
We watch birds lazing along
Can we hear the crash?
Baseball across lands
Yogi and Basho talking
A front between them
Matador’s fast cape
My brook trout sucker for red
Stripped past their snouts
Basho-ball I think
Sport thoughts drifting Sargasso
Rainouts: time to think
Snow spits early May
Balls with red stitches breaking
States of mind up here
Took a ride to the green house today to order our plants in pots. Pick up after Memorial Day. No planting up here until after the first full moon in June (probable, historic last freeze). Came back from town on Menges Creek Road, which was closed most of last summer due to bridge construction Service berries are in evidence (also called June Berries). Can be used to make jellies. Photos here for our dear pal Rootie. And another look at our Woodcock mom in waiting. Over