Home for the Holidays–

A.V. Walters.

Over the hills and through the woods…. There is something nostalgic about going home for the holidays. You can sample the traditional recipes from your past, and slip comfortably into the identity assigned to you by your family, oh-so-many-decades ago. Your siblings are there to remind you, just in case you forget, and pretend to be an adult.

This effect is doubly true in my case. Home, my mother’s house, is in the far north. It echoes with the traditions of the past–heating with wood, guaranteed power outages that have you pulling out the oil lamps, and storing the holiday excess out on the deck (or back porch)–where frigid temperatures are a certainty, and a back-up, for regular refrigeration. Even holiday meal planning comes with an asterisk (and, if the power goes, we’ll just put that ham out in the barbeque….)

My home town is a summer tourist destination; it lies on the shores of Lake Superior, in the lee of Brockway Mountain. It’s that mountain that prevents any cell phone or digital reception. During the height of the summer season you can watch the tourists, desperately waving their various high tech devices doing reception ballet–searching, in vain, for signal. We tell them, “You’ll have to drive to the top of the mountain–you can catch a signal there.” Indeed if you go up there to catch its world famous view of Lake Superior, half the people up there are making calls, or catching up on their internet connections. In the winter, they do not plow Brockway Mountain Drive, so there’s no cell service at all.

There are plans and skirmishes to bring the twenty-first century into town. It’s not a bad idea–the local volunteer fire department is still radio dispatched, because cell phones don’t work. The volunteers carry pagers. It’s argued that the absence of cell reception could cost lives–especially given that the town and its environs are renowned for extreme sports, mountain biking and black-diamond ski slopes. That brings us to the continuing tower, and anti-tower battles. The pro-tower folks have the  built in safety issues on their side. The anti-tower forces argue that cell towers have no place in the pristine forests of the far north. Rightfully, a cell tower will clash with the historic views–which have been safe from interference since the turn of the last century, when copper mining played out. I see the need–but I secretly am anti-tower–if only because I hate for things to change.

It’s Christmas. The guests have yet to arrive–my mum and I have been cooking all day. And, I guess in recognition of tradition, we are enjoying the annual internet-down quiet of the holiday. I’d post this, but Copper Harbor is comfortably settled into internet silence, to match its cellular status. Oh well, the holiday is for nostalgia, anyway. We are moments away from plenty of noise–as the siblings, their kids and grandkids will fill the house with more energy than we can muster. There will be the parade of gifts, the meeting of the boyfriend-du-jour, and the dog, snuffling around the kitchen to poach anything that drops. We’ve slipped into the 1950s, and all is well.

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