The Song of Hotter Water

Lake Superior, the coldest of the Great Lakes, is warmer right now than many old timers can remember at the end of July. And it may set a record for high surface temperature yet this year.

Which turns tradition on its head.

But one thing remains the same. Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha” is still the easiest poem on Earth to parody.

By the shores of Gitchee Gummi
By the boiling big sea water
Wrapped in towels there stood the bathers
Wrapped so not to moon the neighbors

There to feel the heat of sauna
There to feel the water bubble
In the Summer of the hotness
Came they there to sweat together

Watched they as the waves came crashing
Crashing on the rocks of Tofte
Black rocks baking in the sunlight
Water turns to steam at contact

Clouds of steam like in a sauna
Ancient steamy wood enclosure
by the lake it sits, neglected
With an A/C in the window

Father Nature pours his waters
on the rocks and steam arises
Now the Lake itself so hot
that bathers cannot breathe beside it

Now they’ve cooked themselves completely
Now they look for cooling waters
Waters right for skinny dipping
What the Lake once gave them freely

Gitchee Gummi, boiling cauldron
is the sauna now, a devil!
So the bathers run instead
inside where it is air conditioned

Shrieking as their skin is shocked
by air from Kenmore in the window
Shrieking as they did before
when jumping in the lake of yore.

Will this be the hottest summer ever?

38 thoughts on “The Song of Hotter Water”

  1. Good morning. It might be stretching it a little if you believe that it will get hot enough to make Lake Superior too hot for swimming. That might not happen, we certainly could have a new record for heat this year. I’m afraid that those people who don’t believe in global warming are wrong. Even some of them might change their mind about this before the summer is over.


    1. I agree, Jim, with pretty much everything you said. Most of what I know comes from the MPR weather people, but this really does look like a summer of record warmth in many ways – not every day, but overall.


    1. Apparently you have to wait a whole 24 hours, and I wasn’t online very early yesterday! I tried, but I guess I need to go back later.


  2. Having just spent the weekend with some friends with a house on Park Point in Duluth, I can attest to the fact the water in Lake Superior was absolutely perfect for swimming, not jut temperature wise, it was clean too, which I hadn’t expected after reading some of the earlier reports on the blog.

    My crystal ball is a little foggy, possibly due to the heat, so I’m having a hard time seeing the forecast for the remainder of the summer. But, if my memory is serving, I’d say that we’re well on our way to the hottest summer on record. We may well have to resort to some of that Mini-Sota Donut Ice Cream to stay cool. I’m wondering, will they be serving it on a stick at the Fair? Beth-Ann, I hope one of the prizes might be at least a year’s supply of it.


    1. what a treat to be able to swim and enjoy ake superior. that giant mouth watering ice cube in most summers. i heard that greenland (which is mostly ice, its iceland which is mostly green) has the distinction of the warmest summer ever. they normally have a 30% ice melt and this year it is 97%. they are not thinking globally, they are enjoying a summer they have never experienced before and i heard they are growing crops that will allow them to repay the danes who have them in a indebted iou situation. i am afraid that is going to be the problem. its warmer. no one lives in kansas any way and now we can wear lighter jackets here in minnesota in the winter. whats wrong with that eh oly?


      1. You’re right, tim. There are some positives to global warming. I will not dwell on the negatives, but we should be getting prepared to deal with them because it is clear the there will be some major problems as I’m sure you know.


  3. dale this poem of gitchee gummi
    is a wonder thank you greatly
    its so cool to wake to art dale
    thank you for the daily offering

    we here on the blog all thank you
    we sit here in awe of your brain
    we come along for the ride daily
    discovering the joy of the day

    as for warm times on the planet
    warm times have arrived indeed
    to believe that its no problem
    requires a bush sized brain a pea

    i heard its really hot in kansas
    in oklahoma its no fun
    record rains in europe this year
    weather runs amuck for sure

    will this be the hottest ever
    maybe up til now me thinks
    next year will break this years record
    on and on tradition sinks

    concern has us all heads shaking
    by the kemore you spoke of
    huddled in our sweat ball summer
    turn the clock back dooms begun


    1. There are things that can be done to minimize the impact of global warming which are covered in a very good book, “Hot” by Mark Hertsgaard. As you have mentioned in the past on this blog, tim, those people who claimed that the science on global warming was wrong did a lot of damage by deflecting public attention away from this problem. Hertsgraad traveled the world for several years visiting with some people we don’t often hear about who are providing examples of ways we can deal with climate change.


      1. Thanks for the title rec, Jim; I’ve put it on hold at HCL. I’ve read another good book on climate change, “Six Degrees” by Mark Lynas, which details the probable effects of each degree of warming. Also, my roommate recently discovered James Burke’s (known for “Connections” and “The Day the Universe Changed”, fantastic science historian) 1989 documentary “After the Warming” online:

        It’s slightly dated in some ways (remember when Japan was supposed to be THE rising economic power and no one thought China or India would amount to much?), but prescient in most others.


        1. Steve: no, probably not, but who knows? I’m 44 years old, adopted, and attended WELS parochial school. Sound like the person you know?


        2. I should say, prescient in the scientific sense, but way off base regarding political action to ameliorate global warming. Alas.


  4. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    1988 was also hot and very, very dry. I also know from family stories that in the 1930s, especially 1936, it was hot and much drier than this year. Thus the Dust Bowl years, and economic and crop failure consequences. The records will tell all soon.


    1. I remember 1988 well (I often speak of it in a creaky old voice while rocking slowly in a rocking chair on the porch); it was the year I bought my house and moved in on the 31st of July. Yep, it was much drier than this year. Only the golf courses were green.


      1. I expect some of you know that Greg Brown wrote that song and there is a town in Iowa called Early. that’s one of my favorite Greg Brown songs.


        1. There is an Iowa town called Manly, too, plus a Minnesota town called Fertile. I was on a pheasant hunt near the border once when I read the stunning news in a local paper about the upcoming wedding: “Manly Woman to Marry Fertile Man.” I thought Greg could write a nice song about that.

          Still a frickin’ blue doily. I keep pleading with WP.


    2. 1989 was also pretty dry. I remember there wasn’t a single rainy weekend all summer. I watched them closely because I was getting married in French Regional Park with a picnic shelter but no real rain plan. Not to worry, no rain that weekend either.


  5. Morning all!

    Wonderful parodies this morning from Dale and tim. As a person who last year chose windows instead of air conditioning from the Airport Noise Mitigation Commission, this summer feels doubly hot to me. Of course, having spent two nights in Lincoln on our vacation, I can tell you that there are places worse off than here. The swimming pool water was hot at that campground!


  6. Not really on topic, but Dale’s reference to Song of Hiawatha parodies reminds me that Lewis Carrol wrote a great one called “Hiawatha’s Photographing”. It’s too long to reproduce here, but you can Google it. More obscure but also amusing is a book-length parody called “Plu-ri-bus-tah” by Mortimer Thomson, using the pen name “Doesticks”. It covers the history of the U.S. up to about 1850 (when the book was written) and it’s also downloadable.


  7. Well, regardless of the heat, I am grateful for the break in the string of daytime thunderstorms we seemed to have last summer…my dog does not deal well with storms and I came home a few times last year to a unique “doggie” fragrance in the house (poor hound had the poo scared right out of him). Hot, yes, dry, yah…but I think I’ll take a hot house over a stinky one most days. Though I really hope for my daughter and those in her generation that this is not “the new normal.”


  8. I’m sure that I read in the Strib that this is (so far) the warmest summer since records have been kept. Greenland’s lost 97% of its ice in a record one week. Global-warming deniers are having a harder time staying in denial as they cocoon in their air-conditioned homes. What it’s meant for me is the first use of central air in a decade and the loss of my normal summertime fun dancing in the sun at Lord Fletcher’s Wharf each week end. This intense humidity and heat truly spoil vigorous dancing, not to mention putting me at grave risk of heat stroke! The upside to such a muggy summer, however, is that many of my 10 grand kids have sought relief in Crystal Bay more than any previous summer, giving me countless hours of their wonderful company.


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