I’ve lived down here in Tennessee most of my life, but I was born in a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
My grandparents called that place home for the vast majority of their lives. They have since passed away, so I sort of lost touch with the place I was born until I stumbled across a Facebook group created for folks who are from my hometown. It’s nice to see pictures – new and old – of the tiny village where I spent time each summer as a youngster.
With apologies to Garrison Keillor, the group also affords me the opportunity to occasionally bring you the news from my hometown, nestled on the shores of Lake Superior.
It’s been a relatively quiet week back home. Another snowstorm blew through just over a week ago, but everyone has since dug themselves out and gotten back into the rhythms of everyday life. The only thing shattering the peace of the white snowscape has been a three-legged black dog that continues to elude capture.
The county animal control officers are on the case, but as of now, nobody has been fast enough to catch the mutt, which disappeared from a nearby town in December. This has created quite a stir seeing as temperatures routinely plunge below zero up in those parts, and every cold snap brings fresh fears that the three-legged dog has met his maker.
People expected the worst after the latest blizzard, but the dog was seen making its rounds last Saturday as if nothing happened. The little fella makes his way up Sixth Street, over the bridge and out to Airport Road before disappearing to parts unknown.
Civic concern is now turning to frustration, and the finger pointing has begun in earnest. How can the county animal control workers not manage to catch a three-legged dog, especially when it is routinely seen prancing up Sixth Street between 11 a.m. and noon? I don’t know if they still elect dog catchers up there, but if so, these guys might be in some trouble come next election.
Speaking of political pressure, the town council has not been spared in this either. One citizen is already wondering allowed why tranquilizer darts are not in the budget since one clean shot would put an end to this whole thing.
The dog’s owners came over from the next town and set some live traps full of kibble to try to catch their beloved pet. They’ve seen the dog a time or two while checking the traps, but it runs from them, too.
When they aren’t checking the traps, they’re at home in front of their keyboards imploring the fine citizens of my town to quit leaving food out for the dog so he’ll have no choice but to go into the live trap in search of a meal. But older folks with no use for the Internet, let alone Facebook, are proving to be Good Samaritans to the end.
It may seem odd to you that a dog can see its loving family in sub-freezing temperatures and run the other way. But you haven’t lived through a winter up in the north woods. The concept of “cabin fever” is a real thing when you’re cooped up in the same house with the same people day after day and the promise of a spring thaw seems like little more than a cruel myth.
Most folks up there would tell you off the record that what we have here is a dog who looked around at his people and decided he had enough. He had to get out, regardless of the weather. While most folks are rooting for the little fella to be reunited with its owners, there are a few folks back home who see this three-legged mutt as a spirit animal.
As they stare out the window at feet of snow piled up as far as the eye can see, they fantasize about escaping the people who have been driving them nuts in a million tiny ways since November. They see themselves running free down Sixth Street up to Airport Road.
Maybe when they get to the crude landing strip that passes as an airport in a town of around 1,000 people, they might find a small airplane. Somehow, they intuitively know how to fire it up and fly it, so that’s what they do, piercing the gray clouds and following the sun to Florida.
Daydreams like this can sustain a person until the warmth returns to that town where I was born, on the shores of Lake Superior.