Thursday, May 23, 2013

The edge of the world


Michigan. I couldn't wait to get out of the state at twenty-one.  I knew even then that the mountains were where I belonged. Give me canyons and passes and high, lonesome alpine country. The midwest didn't seem big enough for my dreams.

Yesterday I stood on a sand dune as the fog moved in and out, obscuring the Manitou islands. Far below Lake Michigan swept like a broom over the sliver of beach. This is an inland sea, as wild and mysterious as any  mountain range.


In summer, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is crowded with people, but on a rainy Tuesday in May it belongs to us and a few seasonal rangers in Smokey Bear hats, learning the ropes. I feel a brief pang of longing--I really miss working for the Park Service.

I've flown across the country to be here at a conference, shuffling sleep-deprived through three time zones and getting stranded for twenty-four hours in Chicago. (Note to self: there's a great Urban Garden spot in the O'Hare airport. Terminal 3). Wondering why it is that in an empty gate, someone plops right next to you with their smelly McDonald's food. Why people still don't know that they can't travel with hidden containers of liquids in their bags. I have to confess: I really hate the airline part of travel.

But there's something about going back to a place where you haven't been in years and years that stirs up all the silt in the bottom. You can look back at your younger self and think things like, you have no idea, honey, what you have yet to face.

Or maybe not. Maybe you can just stare mesmerized at the place where the land ends and the water begins. The edge of the world, it looks like.

8 comments:

  1. And the "edge of the world" on Lake Superior is even wilder. Yet Sleeping Bear is one of the great spots on the southern Great Lake. Glad you got to revisit.

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  2. I bet I just missed you through O'Hare (I flew through on Tues). Tell me more about this urban garden?

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    1. I was there Tues also!

      the garden is a little spot on an upper floor. It is vertical not horizontal. There are comfy chairs.

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  3. What, no photograph of the urban garden? [grin]
    I haven't been back to the midwest in a very long time. Like you I couldn't wait to leave (and I was only 9 or 10!) longing for the West (where I'd never been, but somehow the blood calls). My mother told me it's genetic and I have no reason to believe otherwise.
    I'm sure if I went back to those midwest places that silt would stir up for me as well, though the memories stopped at age 10. I think there is a sort of imprinting that happens in our childhoods, and those places we lived don't ever leave us (though we leave them) and going back can't help but dredge something up.

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  4. I'll be there in 3 weeks. Sorry we missed each other. We still need our phone date. I get reception in the Airstream now, so it's much easier. Hope you got to see your folks while you were up there. I miss you!

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  5. "But there's something about going back to a place where you haven't been in years and years that stirs up all the silt in the bottom. You can look back at your younger self and think things like, you have no idea, honey, what you have yet to face."

    One of my favorite lines I've ever read on this blog.

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  6. Thanks for the great comments. :)Glad to know people out there in bloggy land can relate to what I write.

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  7. Lake Michigan in the late spring... oh, you've made me so homesick.

    Catching up after a hiatus; I will also comment that yes, the west is different for women adventurers...

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