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Letter from LaPointey


James Autio    


            Wish you could be here with me. Itís beautiful. Pea green sea fills the channel that separates Bayfield from LaPointe. In summertime like this, northern Wisconsin juts out into Lake Superior as red cliffs defend the mainland from the nibbling lap of fresh water. Surrounding the jut, the Apostle Islands rise randomly out of the lakewater like sentries guarding the shoreline from encroachment by invasive species. Most of the smaller islands are currently uninhabited due to their inaccessibility. In fact, the only community of any note is the town of LaPointe. Like a beacon for Midwestern vacationers, LaPointe sits precariously along the southern edge of Madeline Island. Ferries chug over from Bayfield at regular intervals and flow year-round, doubling the number of passages under the hot sun of summer. In wintertime, a Coast Guard cutter maintains open water for the few surviving inhabitants of the island. One time (I heard this) the island joined with the mainland in the midst of the harshest winter via a frozen area of lake too thick for even the Coast Guard. The people trekked across dragging their groceries on sleds. The Bayfield Courier printed a series of articles ruminating about the ice, the isolation of the island, and that persistent rumor of a Bering Strait crossing of Mongoloid peoples into North America many years back. While nobody knows for sure if the Indians walked to Wisconsin all the way from Asia, I do recall family stories of the old ones on snowshoes, walking through days of frozen forest and fishing the ice near LaPointe, pulling in catfish so large the whiskers slapped the sides of the icehole (or something like that) but the catfish donít live there anymore and the Indians too

have now walked on

to greater






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