Today has been a good day. And a sad day too. First, the good part; sharing an early breakfast with our friends and their beautiful children. Good food and good conversation under the umbrella of pines and bird song and the sun finally rising up to crest the tops of pines and burn off the dew. And then the children sneaking in one last time to play as adults talked and later to hear their new schemes in an attempt to delay the inevitable – seeing them off, home to Pennsylvania. That was the sad part. But not without first handing them a gift bag – one of my wife’s home-grown handbags – inclusive of an assortment of Michigan wines.
Having spent the last five days with us here in Glen Arbor, we directed their southernly route toward Ann Arbor, timing their arrival for lunch at Zingerman’s and one last taste of Michigan after having douced them with as many tastings of Up North as we could offer. We all could only wish for more time together and to share the wonders of Leelanau and Sleeping Bear. But to the extent to which we wished for more time, speaks to the quality of the time we had shared.
For those who truly appreciate natural beauty, it isn’t hard to connect on other matters of life. The six children – our’s and their’s combined- ranging from ages five to fifteen, connected instantly. And the adults were never without topics of conversation. But whether it was reaching the top of the dune climb or looking over vistas in the national park, little was said then. Mostly smiles. Brief comments really. Statements of awe and wonder: of Lake Michigan’s deep greens and blues, its vastness where water meets sky meets water. And on the dune, the children improvising a brief game of hide-and-seek. All a photo-op for us doting parents. And later on the beach, over the slapping of waves and the fresh air off the lake, we dads pulled out the guitars and played an impromptu concert for our brides.
And rightly, we left our Pennsylvania friends to their own devices for a day – to experience Up North, if but for a short time, to the rhythm of their own lives, to do the things they do when they are alone, to create what will become their own memories, the way each family does. And here I wish to share the sudden realization that the real, if hidden, beauty of Up North, is in its inclusiveness to meet each person and each family – where they are – and in this way, make their Up North experience, unique and of their own.