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I have placed my (meager) bets on Mookie Betts and the Dodgers to take the 2020 World Series in 7 games. Yes, I think there is still plenty of light in the Rays, and that they will battle back. But the Dodgers will prevail in the end, just as they did in 1959 when they broke my nine-year-old heart by beating the White Sox 4-2 in the World Series. And, it should be noted, the Sox won game 1 of that series, blanking the Dodgers 11-0. Ted Kluszewski hit two towering homers at old Comiskey Park and Early Wynn got the win. It was a great start for October baseball, but then, alas, the Dodgers bounced back. But the White Sox did beat Sandy Koufax in game 5. But I have forgiven the Dodgers for what they did to the Sox in ’59, and I am putting my smart money on them in 2020.
by Charles McKelvy
“Your thumb is the strongest finger in your hand.”
That was all he needed to hear.
So he used that mighty left thumb of his to push THE PANIC BUTTON.
It activated immediately, first with a metallic gurgling, and then with an explosive gust of sour gas that sent the whole, wide world into a total and terrible panic.
Soon everyone—everywhere—was wearing facial coverings and maintaining social distancing.
Schools closed, concerts were cancelled, and restaurants and small business were boarded up.
The frail and elderly were summarily evicted and thrown out on the pot-hole ridden streets and left to make do with the stale leavings of finance-capitalism.
The whole world wailed and wept and wandered aimlessly about.
Many took long walks off short piers and belly flops off tall bridges, and the talking heads and presstitutes on television and social media offered minute, minutely updates and live coverage from around the fast-spinning globe.
The whole world was, in a word, verschimmel.
That’s not really a word in any language, but you get the idea that the pushing of THE PANIC BUTTON with a strong left thumb had the effect desired by the man who had just pushed it.
Well, he wasn’t really a man, or a woman, for that matter.
No, this creature was an angel.
A dark, fallen angel whose name we dare not speak.
I was blessed to attend the Presbyteral Ordination of Dom Joseph Woudenberg, OSB at the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Chicago on Sunday. Father Joseph, who hails from Michigan, becomes the fifth among priests at the monastery. He was ordained by the Most Reverend Joseph Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Father Joseph, may God grant you a persevering obedience to his will.
It’s harvest time here in southwest Michigan, and one cannot ride for long without getting a show. We were treated to just such a display of modern agriculture in action on Elm Valley Road on Saturday. They were harvesting soy beans, one of our primary crops in these here parts.
We followed the “red-brick road” home from the Kal-Haven Trail on Thursday. Well, the Red Arrow Highway, actually, but when we stopped in Lawrence, Michigan, we enjoyed the play of the late afternoon sun on some of their signature red bricks.
Travels with Charley:
The Kal-Haven is a Trail for All Seasons
by Charles McKelvy
When we all began sheltering in place back in late winter/early spring, we reckoned we had better lay in a prudent supply of dry goods.
That meant only one trip: a deadhead run to Country Life Natural Foods at 6451 52nd Street in Pullman, Mich. to lay in a supply of beans, oatmeal, dried fruit, bulgar wheat and whatever else might catch our fancy.
But in going to County Life we had in the back of our minds a winter walk on the Kal-Haven Trail. How better to get through the pandemic than a walk, in any season, on that linear state park that extends some 33 miles from South Haven and Lake Michigan on the west to Kalamazoo on the east. While the Kal-Haven doesn’t actually run into the Celery City, it does connect on the east end with the Kalamazoo Valley River Trail, which will run you right into downtown Ka’zoo.
We know, because we have ridden and walked every inch of the Kal-Haven.
And we knew on that bleak day in late February, when the whole world seemed to be shutting down, that we had to get out for a walk in nature, after our provisioning trip to Country Life Natural Foods.
And that’s just what we did, even though there was still packed-down snow on the trail from snowmobilers.
So we charted a course from Pullman to Grand Junction, parked for free in the trail lot, and headed east on foot on the Kal-Haven.
I can’t begin to tell you how good it felt to be back on that elixir of longevity that we know and love as the Kal-Haven Trail.
We peered ahead through the tunnel of over-arching trees and imagined what they would look like when they started budding out in spring, or fully leafed in summer. And the fall color on the Kal-Haven?
Are you kidding me?
It is to ride for, and ride the Kal-Haven in fall we have. Many times, including this the year of COVID-19.
Allow me to elaborate:
On an absolutely splendid October morn, we put the rack on the car, mounted the bikes to it, and headed back to Grand Junction. Gone when we got there were the bleak snows of February, and in their place, were the bright colors of October. The Kal-Haven was awash in fall color. And, having as we do a pair of zippy e-bikes, we effortlessly made short work of the 10 scenic miles between Grand Junction on the west and Gobles on the east.
Oh, and a word about Grand Junction, and its eponymous name. Seems that the town was the only railroad junction between South Haven and Kalamazoo in the 1870s. The west-east running Kalamazoo & South Haven Railroad, upon which the Kal-Haven Trail was created in the late 1980s, and the north-south running Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore Railroad intersected in Grand Junction. Oh, and as an added historical curiousity, Grand Junction was destroyed by a devasting fire on October 8, 1871—the same day as the Great Chicago fire.
But we didn’t go to Grand Junction on that grand and glorious October day to study history, nor to watch for trains along the north-south running CSX railroad, which also runs through Harbert and Michigan City.
No, we had a 20-mile, traffic-free bike ride in mind, and we satistied our ambition and then some by pedaling merrily through that long tunnel of sun-dappled trees. The leaves were turning and the temperature was a balmly 62 to 68 most of the way, and we were properly attired for cool-weather cycling, so what was not to like?
And there has been nothing we haven’t liked about the Kal-Haven Trail since our friend Meg Warner introduced us to it in 1989. We had met Meg, who was working as a veterninarian in South Haven at the time, on the Shoreline Bicycle Tour in 1987. The ride that year extended from Three Oaks to Traverse City, and our first stop was in South Haven, where Dr. Meg, as we called her, bid us return to her fair city for future cycling adventures. We did, and when she told us of this bold new trail being created between South Haven and Kalamazoo, we headed up for a look, along with the dog Dr. Meg introduced us to, Pokey. Yes, Pokey loved the Kal-Haven, and he even took an unplanned plunge into the Black River during one of our spring walks on the trail.
Now, when we return to the Kal-Haven, in any of the four seasons that the “trail for all seasons” is open, we think fondly of that lively little Pekinese-Beagle mix we adopted in South Haven in 1987.
We thought of Pokey this summer when we rode from South Haven to Grand Junction, and we had him in our hearts as we rode from Grand Junction to Gobles in the fall, and we will have him with us in winter and spring when we bike and/or walk those miles between Gobles and Kalamazoo.
Pokey was our Kal-Haven Trail mascot, and he still is.
He wanted us to enjoy the Kal-Haven for all it’s worth, and even though it is absolutely free to ride, it is priceless. All 33 miles.
Even in the dead of winter when the snow has mostly melted away, the Kal-Haven Trail is a balm for weary souls. We rode the Kal-Haven from Bloomingdale to Kalamazoo and back on September 11, 2001, and we were glad we did. Why, because we found peace and quiet and natural beauty on the trail when the whole world was spiraling into darkness. We couldn’t have thought of a better way in which to spend that tragic day in American history. And, ironically, it wasn’t a dark day at all, that late summer Tuesday in 2001. It was breathtakingly beautiful, and taking a gentle, purposeful ride on the Kal-Haven was just what we needed before returning to the grim 24/7 cycle of bad news.
Again, the good news is that the Kal-Haven Trail is a trail for all four seasons, and it is well suited to those on foot (with or without dogs), bicycles, cross-country skiis, snowshoes, or snowmobiles looking for a way forward in a world that often seems to be marching backwards.
And so you know, the Kal-Haven Trail is part of the Van Buren State Park in South Haven and is manged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Also, there are 31 panels placed along the trail celebrating Michigan history. Visit them at: http://www.michigan.gov/mhc/.
And, if you have yet to discover the wonders that are the Kal-Haven Trail, know that it is a reasonable drive from Michigan City via I-94 east to I-196 and north to Phoenix Road in South Haven. Exit Phoenix Road in South Haven and drive west to Blue Star Memorial Highway, and then right on Blue Star to the clearly marked sign that will direct you to the trailhead along Wells Street. You can also contact the Friends of the Kal-Haven Trail at P.O. Box 191, Bloomingdale, MI 49026 or by liking them on Facebook at: kalhaven.org.
(Harbert, Mich.) Flyboy and I followed the sun late Monday afternoon, all the way down through the dunes to the beach. And these are some of the sun-dappled scenes we saw along the way. Enjoy.
Travels with Charley:
Home to the Metropolitan Opera and Detroit Jazz Festival
by Charles McKelvy
Who knew that the equally world-famous Metropolitan Opera of New York and the Detroit Jazz Festival would take up residence in our home office this year?
So, when the pandemic gathered steam in March, we got a call from the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. saying that day’s broadcast of “The Met: Live in HD” opera was cancelled. (And word came as I was writing this that the Met has canceled their live 2020-2021 season.)
In fact, all of Notre Dame was shutting down.
In fact, the whole world was shutting down.
Life as we knew and loved it was over, and, as we are now realizing, it ain’t comin’ back, folks.
Them’s the grim facts, but life does go on, and so does the Met, and so did the Detroit Jazz Festival and myriad other musical necessities.
Yes, we absolutely need music in our lives. Without a daily dose of Vitamin M we’re toast. It’s all over but the shouting, and the shouting will be out of tune.
Sorry, I got on rant mode there for a minute.
Now back to how the Met and the Detroit Jazz Festival and other great music has come into our home, on demand, and sometimes live and always in color.
So, back to that sad day when our friends at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center phoned to say the opera broadcasts were kaput. That was a crushing blow because we relished those Saturdays when we drove to Notre Dame for an afternoon of live opera broadcasts from the Met and then a walk around the campus. We were often joined by our friends Joe Rochetto and Arthur Anderson; we would go shopping at the box stores in Mishawaka, Ind. as a post-opera treat. How much better could life be than that, right? Costco after Tosca, right?
So we thought fate had done us a tremendous wrong when we got that aforementioned call of doom from the DeBartolo.
How were we going to get our opera fix, our Vitamin M?
Then the Met, God bless and keep them, sent out this message on the Internet:
“During this extraordinary and difficult time, the Met hopes to brighten the lives of our audience members even while our stage is dark. Each day a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series is being made available for free streaming on the Met website, with each performance available for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. the following day.” So said the Met at the following site: http://www.metopera.org. Check it out, if you don’t believe me.
But believe you me when I say that those free streams have calmed our roiling blood streams considerably, as we are now able to crank up the old desktop computer and tune into the daily offering.
We literally bring the Met right into our home office, and unlike the live broadcasts, we can pause the opera at any point and take time-outs. Hey, I’m an old guy with a weak bladder, and, true confessions, I often had to race to the loo at the DeBartolo during intermissions.
No more of that and lots more of amazing opera, right here at home. Consider, for example a streaming of the Philip Glass opera, Akhnaten. Natalie’s not a big fan of Philip Glass, but I am. I slapped the headphones on and watched countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo chew up the post-modernist scenery as the revolutionary pharaoh who transformed ancient Egypt with his insistence upon monotheism.
And speaking of pharaohs, I have to throw in a reference to the aforementioned Detroit Jazz Festival that headlined jazz icon, Pharoah Sanders, for the 2020 festival they streamed over Labor Day Weekend. Yes, it cost us $20, but it was worth it, because it was all jazz, all the time from Friday until Labor Day. We actually saved money by not having to drive to a live festival and shell out bigger bucks for day passes, etc.
And, yes, I got my clarinet fix with the Dave Bennett Quartet, watching Mr. Bennett put his licorice stick through its paces.
As I’m writing this, I’m getting the signal from the Real Jazz station on Sirius XM that the Monterey Jazz Festival is going to stream this year. I’ll be checking that out; we’ll also be checking out a special Met offering this Friday night (September 25) when we go to the Rochetto/Anderson Opera House for a subscription concert by our beloved mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato. Natalie has given me permission to say: “Joyce Baby will bring joy to our hearts as she sings a medley of great arias.”
And, best of all, Arthur and Joe are treating us, and they will certainly put out some tasty treats at their opera house.
And speaking of treats, we felt compelled to treat the Met to a few shekels from our fixed income; we got a personal letter of appreciation from the Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb. He was grateful, but we are even more grateful that the Met has seen fit to bring opera to our home office, on a nightly basis, until who knows when.
That link to Vitamin M again: http://www.metopera.org.
See you at the opera!
Sox fans, lament! Our Men in Black lost to Oakland yesterday, 6-4, in a game they should have won. They should be going on, but they’re not. Oh well. Such is baseball. Such is life. But the take-away from their first trip to the post season since 2008 is that glorious game on Tuesday, September 29 when Lucas Giolito led them to a 4-1 win by pitching six, perfect innings. That’s what I’m going to savor all fall and winter. And, going forward, I am hoping for a Cubs/A’s World Series, but the Cubs need to step up their game today, against a tough Marlins team. Maybe it’s good they were rained out yesterday. Two losses for Chicago would have been too much to take. Go Cubs, and think Lucas Giolito all winter long.
Flyboy took me on a sunset cruise the other fall evening. Here are some of the photographic highlights of our journey from 115 Dune Road to the beach and back. All without ever leaving heavenly Harbert, Michigan.
Travels with Charley:
Waving Good-bye to Summer at Warren Dunes State Park
by Charles McKelvy
In this time of COVID-19, super, Sunday, summer bike rides are huge.
No, they WERE huge.
And that’s the point of this exercise: to wave good-bye to a strange but strangely wonderful summer at Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, Mich.
That’s where I mainly went every Sunday afternoon in summer, after, of course, doing all my usual Sunday rounds.
I’d come home from the last stop, which was usually to my favorite box store, where I’d stock up on necessities and just let my impulse-buying-streak run wild, then settle in for a late lunch/early dinner with Natalie. After that, I’d head out for a 17-miler in the cool of a summer evening.
Warren Dunes, which is about four miles from us as the gull flaps, was always the centerpiece of my meandering rides.
Well, you obviously haven’t been there if you have to ask.
Warren Dunes State Park, as I have stated previously in these pages, has long been the only country club we would ever join. Warren Dunes, quite simply, provides some 1,952 acres of fun in the sand, surf, and sassafras. We have birded it, biked it, hiked it, kayaked along its golden shore, cross-country-skied its trails, and just grooved on its very proximity.
When we worked for Classic Catering in Bridgman, Mich. the highlight of every job was coming home late at night, utterly exhausted, and rolling down the windows as we passed Warren Dunes, savoring the woodsy aroma of campfire smoke wafting over the Red Arrow Highway. It was the closest thing we could get to watching the fog roll in over San Francisco Bay.
So, yes, we love Warren Dunes State Park. On Sundays this summer past, I would ride there on Natalie’s day off from bicycling and utterly enjoy being in the people’s park with the people from all over.
I would ride through the campgrounds and wave at all the friendly campers and marvel at the advances in camping equipment since my scouting days in the 1960s.
Then I’d head on down to the beach and and enjoy watching the masses enjoy a day at what I consider to be THE most beautiful beach on all of Lake Michigan.
Yes, the beaches at Indiana Dunes State Park and at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore are just as lovely as what you’ll find at Warren Dunes, but those beaches have something Warren Dunes doesn’t have: in-your-face, up-close-and-personal views of the mills and factories along the southern rim of the lake.
You look out at the lake from Warren Dunes in any direction, and all you see is the lake. Well, you can see the NIPSCO plant in Michigan City if you look long enough, but the lake looks to a lot of visitors from the big city like an inland sea. Such a view is priceless, which is precisely why I made the beach at Warren Dunes the centerpiece of my Sunday-afternoon bike rides this summer.
Excuse me, this past summer.
Yes, it’s always bittersweet to see summer come to a close; I really did see that on the last Sunday of September, the day that the annual Apple Cider Century bike ride in Three Oaks, Mich. normally would have been staged. But nothing has been normal in the year of COVID-19: there were no cider centurions this year. No SAG stops and zippy packs of serious cyclists celebrating the end of summer on the backroads of Berrien County, Mich. and LaPorte County, Ind.
The Apple Cider Century was cancelled for good reason, but there was no good reason to keep me off the roads leading to Warren Dunes State Park on September 27.
Let me tell you all about it, perhaps in prose, but probably not in verse, because I am not a poet. But I certainly felt like one when I took my salute-to-summer ride to Warren Dunes on September 27. Accustomed to sharing the park with the merry masses of day-trippers and campers, I was sorry to see that the three campgrounds I rode through were, at most, a third occupied, and that they had closed one of the three beach parking lots. The two open lots were nowhere near full, and while there were folks climbing up Pikes Peak and running down, there just weren’t all that many.
Speaking of Pikes Peak, I did take a moment to remember the annual summer walks from our Prairie Club beach in Harbert, Mich. to the top of Pikes Peak and back. If memory serves, I do believe I featured at least one of those walks in The Beacher.
Summers, past, right?
But on September 27, five days after the official start of fall, there was a chill in the air. A grim, gray scrim had been pulled down over the summer sun, and it was just falling into fall with a wisp of winter in the wind.
Still, the gift shop was still open at the beach; the clerk said they hoped to be open through the end of October, minus all the flotation devices. She said they would continue to sell apparel, and my eager, consumer eye caught a tie-dyed, long-sleeved Warren Dunes State Park t-shirt that would do the trick on an October ride to the park. I promised I would bring my wallet next week; then I rode off into the sunset, feeling more than a little morose.
Summer was well and truly and officially over, and the other visitors were feeling the bluesy vibe, too. Something like Samuel Barber’s mournful Adagio for Strings should have been playing on the public address system, but it wasn’t, so I played it in my head as I charted a course for home and smiled, knowing Natalie would think to turn the heat on before I got there.