Skyline Day

I’m all in favor of eating regional food. In Maine, it’s seafood all the way. In the Midwest — well, how about some Skyline Chili, which is totally unknown in New England?

Russell thought some Skyline would be a good way to celebrate Labor Day and our return to the heartland, and it was an inspired choice. I went in, as always, for a three-way and a cheese coney with everything, some extra crackers, and a large water with lemon.

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Home Of The Sailors

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Kish and I are up in Vermilion, Ohio for a family bridal shower. Because I’d rather thrust rusty screwdrivers under my fingernails than participate in a bridal shower, I’m spending a soggy Saturday knocking around the downtown area of Kish’s home town.

Vermilion is a cool place. Located right on Lake Erie, about halfway between Cleveland and Toledo, it’s got a clear nautical orientation. The high school football team is the Sailors, there are boats pretty much everywhere you look, and there’s a well-stocked bait shop right in the center of town. It’s one of the best places in the world to get a Lake Erie perch dinner — and anyone who has had a fresh, hot, fried Lake Erie perch dinner knows that’s the best fish you can eat, period.

Lake Erie is vast — it is a Great Lake, after all — and choppy on a day like today. A landlubber like me is endlessly fascinated by anchors, and masts, and rigging, and large mooring pylons that look massive enough to hold a freighter hard against a pier. They can be found in Vermilion in abundance. With its quaint buildings, white wooden frame houses by the lake, and the ever-present sound of water slapping against docks, Vermilion is like Ohio’s special little slice of New England.

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On Stone Walls And Robert Frost

The Lake Champlain region of upstate New York feels, to me at least, more like New England than like the mid-Atlantic states.  It is separated from rustic northern Vermont only by the blue waters of the lake, and the signs of a New England approach to life are everywhere evident.

For example, you cannot take a walk on a country lane without seeing many stone walls, in various stages of repair and disrepair.  Some are clean and sharp-edged, some are rambling and covered with flowers, and others are vine-covered, weedy, and completely unattended, only a year or two away from full-scale collapse and a wholesale return to nature.

And who can see a stone wall without thinking of Robert Frost?  His wonderful poem of ruminations on stone walls, their inevitable decline and decay, and his annual meeting with his neighbor to replace the stones in their common wall, Mending Wall, begins as follows:

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The poem is full of Frost’s curiousity and impishness.  It is too long to reprint in full in this post, but it is available here.  The poem famously concludes:

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.