Big Logger Mike’s back…and he’s doing Tai Chi

CONVERSATIONS WITH MIKE: I quickly pull over and kill the lights on the old pickup to have a better look

Six a.m., more than an hour away until sunrise, but the early morning glow is already breaking up the darkness.

I’m heading downtown when I see the huge shadow moving across Spirit Square. I quickly pull over and kill the lights on the old pickup to have a better look as the monstrous silhouette glides back and forth in a graceful dance.

“Good Lord,” I whisper, “it’s Sasquatch!”

Gently, I roll the window down and listen closely because I think the beast is speaking.

“Grasp the sparrow’s tail,” says the deep, calm voice as the body and limbs flow together in elegant unison. “Hand strums the lute…”

What the?…holy mackerel, that’s…that’s Big Logger Mike’s voice…and…and, I think he’s doing Tai Chi!

“Step back and repulse the monkey, right,” he continues, still not seeing me. “Step back and repulse the monkey, left.”

Slightly stunned, I finally break my silence, “Oh I’m sure you’ve repulsed more than a few monkeys in your drinking days!”

Big Mike snaps his head to my direction, but doesn’t freak out like he usually does. Instead, he repulses the final invisible primate and chants one last mantra, “Embrace the tiger and return to mountain,” he says calmly, performing the ancient Chinese martial art.

Slipping off his black silk Tai Chi gown, Logger Mike starts to resemble his old yellow self as he hangs the silks with care, dons his big wide-brim hat and the strides back to the spar pole.

“In Chinese, that last move is called ‘bao hu gui shan’, just so ya know,” he says with a nod in my direction, as he climbs the pole with ease.

Even I’m impressed, “You got up there like a young buck,” I say with a responding nod back.

As the day brightens I finally see Big Mike breaking into a wide smile as he glances down.

“Thanks, I’m feelin’ pretty darn good since I started doin’ this a few months back. Heck, I’m not even taking my arthritis meds anymore!” he says with a righteous nod.

“Why Tai Chi and not hot yoga where all the good looking cougars are hanging out?” I ask.

He shakes his head, “Old loggers hate the heat. Give us rain any day,” he replies, and then grins. “Besides all the gals check me out. They just can’t resists a workin’ man in yella Carhartts!”

And with that, Big Logger Mike flexes his left arm and kisses his massive bicep, “Yep, the muscles are toning up real nice and my mind seems calmer too!”

A Zen-like look comes across the big guy as he turns his face to the first rays of the sunrise, “So what made you take up Tai Chi?” I ask.

“Well,” he replies thoughtfully, “when you see and hear everything that goes on in this here city you need to do something to release all that energy. In the ol’ days we just got liquoured up and fought, but that’s not such a good idea now for the best ambassador this city’s got!”

I laugh and shake my head. Then again, maybe he’s right?