Manic Monday: Michigan, Again.

It's been a spell since I have blogged. These dark winter months often find so many of us at odds with finding motivation. 

The recent thawing of Wisconsin was such a welcome respite, like a promise from Mother Nature that warmer days are near. 

But winter is back in full force, and the ground is yet again covered in Snow. 

I thought back to a trip I made to a snow-covered lower Michigan just after Christmas this past year — a surprise visit to see my father, which was desperately overdue. 

My parents and I moved up to Green Bay from my birthplace of St. Louis when I was quite young. We left my mother's entire extended family there. My father and his family were all from lower Michigan. Because I was homeschooled, the opportunity to see our families from either side was not restricted to weekends or summer breaks. So often in my childhood, I split my time between days on the banks of the Mississippi with my "St. Louis" Family, and the rolling shores of the Sleeping Bear Dunes in lower Michigan. 

I am firmly rooted in Green Bay now, a town which I have come to know and love so very much. I am proud to have a business here, and to raise my children in this ever-growing community. But that doesn't mean that my heart exists only here. My heart, and my deepest-rooted memories, exist in both time and places. 

As if out of a story book, the home my father now lives in lies just a mile outside of the Traverse City center, sitting on more than 50 acres of land that have been cared for by the same families for more than a century. The Centennial Barn boasts this truth with an historical plaque adorning its faded doors. 

My father and his sidekick Da Vinci (the dog pictured below) guided me through the woods to see the winding freshwater spring which feeds directly to their house, and to admire what beauty this land had to offer. 

I probably sound like some sort of paid ad placement, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It's just that when you experience such unspoiled beauty, there is a certain fierce need to proclaim its worth.

 

It's Muscle Memory that leads me down the rural county roads to the place where my childhood memories run unspoiled and forever pure. 

Empire, Mich., a sleepy town just 30 miles west, boasts the Sleeping Bear Dunes lakeshore, and most travel publications would have you know it is also one of America's most beautiful beaches. 

More than anything, Empire holds a wealth of good times past. The run-off lake I spent summers in, chasing angry swans and dodging snapping turtles; or the lighthouse overlooking the beach, whose sand dunes formed legends, told for generations. The Sleeping Bear Dunes rest in the shadow of the beach on which  I spent my childhood playing. Dodging storm-tossed waves that seemed a mile high, building sand castles and falling asleep shore side, while my grandfather told stories of Ojibwe folklore, and the many true stories of ill-fated ships, including the ship that sank carrying Christmas trees to Chicago. 

Empire is a town so small, it is nearly passed through in an instant. Yet this tiny place holds splendors most people would pray to witness. 

 

I find myself in awe of it all. It is a part of me. 

Michigan, again.