Wilco in Duluth

Wilco in Duluth

Or, Why One Shouldn’t Wear One’s Wedding Ring While Tossing a Football While Swimming in Lake Superior

It was a perfect day in Duluth. While the Twin Cities were sweltering in 100º heat, it was — as they say — cooler by the lake.

We headed up early on Sunday and met up with Liam and Peder at Park Point Beach. The water was warm and still ruddy from the epic flooding the week before.

We had a few beverages and some snacks, then hopped into the water to float about and toss a football around. The beach was packed. Volleyballs bounced by, dogs barked hello to each other, horns from the harbor bellowed over the beach sand, which was a four-foot-wide pile of debris — sticks and logs — washed down the hill and piled back up on shoreline.

Given steady stream of waves and detritus in the water, I was worried when Emily jumped in wearing her wedding ring. From waist-deep water I shouted back at her and pointed at my ring finger. She brushed off my concern.

“It’s fine,” she said.

Liam and I continued tossing the football around, now zipping it in a triangle between ourselves and Emily once she reached the appropriate depth. A big freighter chugged out of the Superior entry to the port.

Liam arced a ball toward me, and it tailed to my left. I reached out, attempting a one-handed catch. I knew immediately. The ball, heavy and wet, its synthetic surface a little sticky from the weathering, had grabbed on to my ring as it deflected off my hand.

Standing in the hip-high water, I looked down. Except, you couldn’t. The red run-off had made any underwater visibility almost impossible. I’m sure I muttered an explitive. I can’t recall which particular one.

Again, I shouted at Emily and again pointed to my left ring finger. This time, it was bare.

She came over, as did Liam. I weighed my options, wondering about our insurance, and tried to stay in the same position against the waves, lest I drift away from where I thought the ring might have landed on the sand below.

“Don’t walk over here. You’ll just push it into the sand if you step on it,” I said while trying to feel the bottom with my feet.

It was probably not more much more than a minute between informing my beloved and assessing my options. I tried to dive down eyes open, but the Martian water impaired any hopes of actually seeing the ring on the bottom.

I dove again, eyes closed this time, and rocked my legs up over my torso. I bobbed upside down for a few seconds, worried that the waves were pushing me toward shore and further away from where my ring slipped off my finger. Reaching down I carefully scanned the sand with my hands, mindful not to press anything down. I’ll sweep carefully, and try to approximate a grid, I thought.

I bumped a rock with my right hand, sweeping my hands away from each other. Steady, steady. I swept my hands back together.

Ripples in the sand. Rock. Nothing. Something. It’s smooth!

A wave nearly flipped me end over end as I reached down and cupped the sand around my little piece of treasure. But there it was. Back on my finger.

“No. Way.” I proclaimed as I found my footing and reached to the surface, ring to the sky. I’m pretty sure I gave Emily the OK sign. Or maybe that’s also the international sign for the trident. I sure felt like Poseidon.

Duluth photos

After all that excitement, we watched Biltzen Trapper and Wilco [setlist] at Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park.

You couldn’t have asked for a better evening. Good tunes. A great sunset. The American Integrity leaving port and passing under the Duluth Lift Bridge. And, of course, a good story.