Sunday, 9:00 AM. 16 degrees F, wind WSW, calm. The sky is overcast in the east, the sun still not making an appearance. The humidity is 88% and the barometer is trending down at 30.16 in.
Joan and I were having coffee yesterday at the dining room table around 2:00 PM when we heard the unmistakable sound of a helicopter passing low over the house. “Coast Guard rescue practice,” I commented. How wrong I was, as we found out on the 10:00 PM local news out of Duluth. It was no practice run and I now assume it was the regional Medivac helicopter taking off for Duluth.
Jim Hudson, former Bayfield policeman turned fishing guide died yesterday when his snowmobile went through the ice somewhere off Madeline Island. He was in the water forty-five minutes before local EMTs and the Coast Guard were able to rescue him, but he was in the icy water too long and died of hypothermia. I know no more of the details of the tragedy at this time, but Jim, who was only 34, leaves a young widow, Hannah Stonehouse Hudson. She is a professional photographer and the two were struggling Bayfield entrepreneurs, the kind of young folks the community desperately needs.
We have been watching the fitful progress of ice formation on the channel from the safety and warmth of our dining room window for the last several weeks, and it has been snow covered and treacherous right from the start.
Every winter the big lake claims its victims, and this season’s first loss strikes our own community, hard. Lake Superior is an unforgiving mistress, as dangerous as she is beautiful.