Sunday, February 5, 2012


Greg was the first at the table the following Wednesday. Michael arrived soon after. Debra and Father Randy rode in together and came in at the same time. There was an eerie silence that morning as each one gave Sharon their orders. She asked, "Is Mr. Hans coming?"

Greg gave a quick and confident, "Oh, he'll be here . . . he is usually late you know."

Silence continued to dominate with just the sound of metal forks hitting ceramic plates and the occasional slurping of coffee. Greg looked at his watch. It was a quarter past eight and Tom had never been this late. He looked out the window and the snow, which had been falling softy, was now coming down more steadily. "Maybe the weather is slowing him down." Mumbled Greg.

Michael spoke up, "I don't think so. Arnie said that even on the morning of that terrible ice storm, Tom was the only one who made it, walking the 15 miles round trip to get here."

Greg was getting restless as he finished off his flat-jacks covered with syrup, distilled by Arnie during the previous spring from the maple trees just across the road. Greg laid down his fork and announced, "I'm going to look for the man . . . any takers?"  He jumped up and put on his coat.  He walked towards the door.

The rest of the group just looked at one another. Debra jumped up, with her plate in hand and whispered, "I'm in."  She passed Sharon on the way out the door, with her plate of eggs still in her hand, "I'll be right back with the plate."

In a moment, Father Randy and Michael followed in suite.

As the three of them gathered in the parking lot, Greg was in his 1975 VW camper van, the engine running and him leaning out the window scrapping off the windshield. "Jump in!"

The father, Michael and Debra climbed in. The mini bar table was put to good use to set their plates on.  Greg pulled out on the highway.  "Hang on back there!" shouted Greg. "It's getting a little slippery and I have rear-wheel drive."

Debra, sitting with her back to Greg, twisted around and said, "I've got my Subaru."

"That's Okay. My Tin Lizzy has never let me down."

They drove south on 77 past the GERMFASK Cemetery on the left, where many of the early settlers were burred. They turned left on Lustila Road until they got to Needle Pointe. Another left took them by the shore of Manistique Lake.  The road narrowed after they passed the Needle Pointe curve and the snow grew deeper. The Tin Lizzy started to fish tail and then just spin.

"I'm confident that his place is at the very end. It's only about a 1/4 mile, so is it okay if we hoof it from

No one answered but they just bailed out. Debra still had her Jolly Inn plate in her hand as they continued walking. Their caps were becoming white with snow. Before long they came to the end of the road the last cabin on the lake. 

Greg led the troops like a General in the trenches of World War I. Over the snow drifts and up to the porch.  He knocked on the door. There was no response.  Father Randy walked around to the picture window that looked out on the lake. He wiped off the window and looked in. "Hey," he called. This place looks completely empty.  They stood side by side peering through the glass.

Greg walked around to the back door and knocked. "Tom!  Hey Tom, it's Greg!" Still there was silence, save the wind in the Aspens and Birches and the crunching of the ice beneath the Sorels of Father Randy.

The kind priest put his arm around Greg's shoulders.  "He's gone.  The mystery man has left us."

Greg mumbled almost beneath and audible decibel, "But we weren't finished. I had so many things to ask him."

Back at the Jolly Inn, Greg collected the empty plates and coffee cups and carried them back inside. He waved farewell to his breakfast friends.  He motioned to Debra and she rolled down her window with the power button. "Yeah?"

Greg asked, "Will you be coming back?  I mean, you said that you were coming just to meet this interesting stranger . . . now that he's gone?"

Debra nodded. "Sure, I'll be back. It is quite a drive for me, so I may not be here every Wednesday, especially in the winter, but I'll be back.  I think Mr. Hans opened several cans of worms that would be worth discussing."  With that, she rolled up her window and pulled out on to 77 and headed north. Greg looked around and the others were already gone.

When Greg got back to his cabin, he found an envelope and a parcel. He opened the letter and read it out loud, "To my Earthing friend, thanks so much for patience with me, and your imaginative trust.  In the package you will find the complete, what you would call 'Encyclopedia' of our people and our planet, which I have translated into my imperfect command of English. Enjoy." 


Anonymous said...

Fairwell, Tom, we hardly knew ye.

PRS & ALS said...

I'll miss you, Germfask.

Eagle said...

Are you doing okay MJ? Its been almost 2 weeks since you posted...

jmj said...

Oh, I'm here just busy. I actually thought I had posted a couple of days ago and when your comment came in, I realized that I had never published it.

Philip said...

That was a fantastic and challenging read! I've read straight through over the past three days - made comments all over the place (sorry but I couldn't help it), and to say it's given me a lot to chew on is probably an understatement. I'll miss Tom, and I love hearing your perspective on Christianity and the church through him.