07 July 2012

Fifty tons of sermon

The sermon is printed, folded in half long ways, tucked in my prayerbook.  Six days in the making, its finished state is pleasurably unusual.  All it took was a schedule.  Research Monday and Tuesday.  Three hours a day for writing, Thursday through today.  Hard work.  Labor.  Like pushing something, awkwardly, uphill.   I'm not struggling with it tonight.  Blessedly.

That sermon intention this week wasn’t the only going.  Visiting with family for the Independence Day holiday, getting the camera out every day, meals, walks, our wonderful dogs, a needlepoint project I really dislike and a book I’m determined to finish all went into the mix.  The book is Walter Havighurst’s “The Long Ships Passing: The Story of the Great Lakes.”  It was suggested reading before our May/June historic waterways trip from Warren RI to Chicago IL, which – no surprise – I didn’t get done. 

The chapter I read on Thursday, “The Fleet that Sailed on Land,” was about ships moving between Lakes Huron and Superior before the rapids of the St Mary’s River were bypassed by the locks at Sault Ste Marie in 1855.  The first one was the Algonquin in 1838.  Here’s Havighurst’s description:

The portaging of the fifty-ton schooner was done by Achille Cadotte who went to work as though he was moving a house.  With a set of rollers, a horse and a capstan he hauled the Algonquin out of the water, cribbed her up in timbers and started her on her slow voyage over what is now Sault Ste Marie’s Water Street.  The vessel moved five lengths a day, crawling along in snowstorms and bitter weather past the houses, shops and taverns of the little town.  She took three and a half months to make that mile-long portage.  But with the break-up of ice in April the Algonquin dipped her hull in the cold blue waters of Lake Superior and began her historic voyages. (163)

Between that 1838 accomplishment and 1855 when the locks were completed fifteen vessels, totaling 3000 tons, had been portaged that mile along Water Street. 
Dragging 50 tons of schooner a rocky mile through town.  Funny, I'd liken that to what Monday through Saturday with a sermon in tow feels like to me.

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