I just turned 69, and I’m glad to report that life is fine. I’m married to the woman I love, Ginnie, we raise chickens on our little Empty Nest “Farm,” and I’m fulfilling my life’s dream of becoming a published author. In fact, I’ll be doing a book signing in Ottumwa on Thursday, September 14, at The Vine Coffeehouse, 1207 N. Jefferson St., from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. My book is called “Protected” and it is about my experiences with God over a lifetime. Some of the stories are funny, some are subtle, and some are violent and vulgar, but they are all true. These are stories about how I believe God has opened doors in my life, gone ahead and cleared the path, and “protected” me. Y’all come listen to me read a passage, and I’ll sign a book for you.
Devil’s Island, one of the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior in Ashland County, WI. Some say the wind blowing through the caverns is the cry of the Devil For my birthday, which was the end of July, Ginnie and I traveled north to Ashland, Wisconsin (God’s Country), to visit my brother. Ashland is on Lake Superior, which is the largest body of fresh water in the world. While there, we took a boat tour of the Apostle Islands. If you’re like me, you’re assuming they are called the Apostle Islands because there are 12 of them. You would be wrong. There are actually 22 islands in the grouping. Well, maybe the image of an Apostle was sighted on one of the islands. You would be wrong again. A French Monk living in a monastery on one of the islands long ago is about as close as we get to that phenomenon. So why are they called the Apostle Islands? No one knows. It’s a name lost to antiquity. But they are well worth seeing.
One of the islands is the antithesis of an Apostle. It’s called Devil’s Island because the shoreline is riddled with caverns carved into sandstone by the action of wind and waves. It’s quite eery and beautiful at the same time, like the Fallen Angel Himself, perhaps. In the winter, these caverns are also a tourist draw because they form what are locally called “ice palaces.” People flock to these ice palaces to sightsee and get married. They cross the ice by snowmobile or even auto. I would think that would be a creepy way to start a marriage. The island is called Devil’s Island because the wind blowing through the caverns is said to be the cry of the Devil. Yikes!
The buildings in downtown Ashland (about the size of Mt. Pleasant) are quite handsomely decorated with hand painted murals—over 30 of them. Ginnie and I had a good time on my birthday, roaming around, posing for pictures in front of these murals. Many of the murals depict a time in Ashland’s history, representing the shipping, logging, and fishing industries.
At about 2:00 in the afternoon, we decided lunch was in order. We found a little coffee house overlooking the lake. We were the only ones there. But there was a live musician playing the harp just for us. It was a special birthday treat.
Is 69 old? To some, like my son, it’s ancient. To others, like my brother who is 75, I’m still “wet behind the ears.” It’s all a matter of perspective. Ginnie’s father is 90, and in great health, physically and mentally. The way I feel at present, I believe I can attain that age also. It’s only 21 years away, not much time at all, God willing.
The secret to a long life, I think, is continually moving forward, learning and attempting new things. My first book is published, and I have already started my second. It’s going to be a book of short stories and essays. I have three of the stories written already. My first book will be going on Amazon and ebooks shortly.
No, I am not planning on publishing a book of Empty Nest columns. It would just be too easy. And as Tina Turner sings, “We never do nothing nice and easy.” Anyone can slap a series of columns together and call it a book. Maybe sometime in the future, but not right now. Maybe for a third book? Hmm.
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook. Curt Stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.