Pelican briefs

by Sue Thurston

Our three-month summers and two-month winters pass quickly when you call Ely your Fortress of Solitude…that is what my husband, John, has always called our Ely cabin since 2005, when we knew this was such a pure and perfect treasure. Ely, where we are at home in the woods.
AT HOME IN THE WOODS, is the title of a book that “Boy Scout John” read in his camping and canoeing days in Virginia…before we met. Now, after 40 some years, Florida is where our story began, and continues…and Ely, shows us its’ summers that slide gradually into colorful, golden, earth-colored falls, that nature brings to a rest, to spread out before us, the quiet, frozen, white and green landscapes under beautiful blue skies of sunny days and black night skies, star-filled.
Is it possible to love both places equally?? Yes, is the answer. The friendships and families are what makes life perfect in both places. What’s not to love?
Summers start when we pull up our road, unload the SUV, open up the cabin, put the screens in the front and back doors, and pull out our toys and tools to get started on fun and work, on the lake and in the yard…and read and highlight the plethora of activities listed in the ‘Ely Summer Times” …we can’t wait to get started! No time to lose or snooze! Get fishin’ and paddling and catchin’ up with neighbors and all the folks we see from one end of Sheridan Street to the other …that’s what makes our world perfect in Ely, MN!!
“How do I love thee...let me count the ways!” There is only one little problem that has arisen in our perfect Ely Summer...WHERE TO PUT THE BIRD BATH. We inherited a vintage, charming, “dear” classic, cement birdbath from the previous owners of our cabin…it is the total package of a birdbath…complete with pedestal and bath bowl …Handmade with scattered colored glass jewels embedded in the bowl of the bath…red, green blue yellow…placed simply and artistically by the maker.
Turn it over and it reads in hand-written cursive…Ely, MN…but, as we set it up, in the perfect, well thought out and argued garden place (we only have one garden area, planned and planted), and poured in the water, to our dismay, the water flowed through the many cracks of the jeweled bath bottom!
My heart sank…and John, later that evening, was online searching for a perfect new one. Plus he was searching various landscape and garage sales in town and the area. I wanted to re-cement or waterproof the bottom, or anything to preserve its’ simple charm and autograph.
We have talked of using the bowl alone, in a natural area near our front door, as a feeder for birds and squirrels. He wants a brand new one…I am for the charm of the old! I still find him online searching for the perfect new one. I think we will have the perfect place for two bird bathes in our yard and once again life will be perfect in Ely.
I will be happy enjoying the vintage, charming birdbath and its visitors, and the garden area where it sits…and the sounds of summer are complete when I hear the wooden, handmade screen doors slamming as we go in and out…ah, the sounds and charms of Ely in summer.