Greetings from the north shore of Lake Superior! We may be buried in snow, but our plans are soaring above the clouds.
It's been quite a winter. Record-setting for both cold and snow. Mark sailed the Atlantic in January with friends we'd met in the Bahamas on Midwatch (see www.midwatch.blogspot.com) Back in Two Harbors, we dealt with extreme cold, the carbon-monoxide alarm going off, the garage door refusing to shut, and influenza--all symptoms of a cold land-based winter. We were not sorry to be in the northland, however, especially when Lake Superior began to freeze up for the first time in years, creating an ever-changing scene of mythic splendor. I go on my morning walk and wonder if I have moved to the Arctic.
Problem is, the Arctic isn't as cold as it has been for thousands of years, which brings me to the main purpose of this writing. From the low waters of Lake Huron to Hurricane Sandy to the drought in the Bahamas, we spent our year aboard almost continually aware of and affected by increasingly dramatic signs of climate change. What to do with this terrible reality, and what would happen if we dared look it straight in the eye? Well what happened is that we were compelled to Do Something. So we did--we became a little piece of a national day called "Draw the Line," making a statement about the tar sands oil that is coming through our beloved woods and waters. With foreign companies hot to use Minnesota and the Midwest as a transportation route for their world markets, we became part of the crowd that said "no." Local papers, radios, and libraries helped to get the word out, and 80 people showed up on the pier to voice their concern about committing our country's energy policy to more and more dirty oil even while acknowledging that for the climate to stay under control, most dirty oil must stay in the ground.
Since then we have learned how best to use our energies to further a livable planet and a future for our children. One major project for the next three springs will be called "Sea Change," five week young adult trips on Lake Superior that focus not only on good old voyaging/living aboard together, but bring climate change awareness and education to local ports as we travel. This idea has met with great enthusiasm from many quarters such as Save Lake Superior Association, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Large Lakes Observatory, Minnesota Sea Grant, the Binational Forum, and Northland college. As usual, we are charging the young adults on board a small fraction of the cost, and are trying to make up the difference through financial donations, cash or in-kind. (Feel free to donate on our website!)
Our trip may be complicated by the extreme winter, which is in itself a sign of climate change, for those of you have not heard about that all-important Jet Stream, which normally flows rather predictably with small variation, but has now swooped way down into the United States, sending us temperatures straight from the Arctic itself. Normally we get the boat in the water in early April and are able to work on it at least sporadically. This year, who knows. Tonight (March 4) it is going down to, oh, -20 Fahrenheit again....the girls are more than ready to reclaim their bunks but somehow all this snow and ice must melt first.
We will continue to update our Facebook page as this trip develops, and the blog also. Stay tuned!