Take me north, take me home

Every time I revisit my mind fills with memories
Of the sunsets sails and campfires of a childhood so carefree
And Iím blessed to have known and experienced so much
And so fortunate today that the islandís still untouched
And so fortunate today that the islandís still untouched

Mary Gerwin, “The Shores of Les Cheneaux”

The lyrics above are from my auntís song ďThe Shores of Les CheneauxĒ from her new CD of the same name (full lyrics; listen). The song resonates with me and with many others who have histories in these islands of the Michigan U. P., a number of them moved to tears by how well it captures their experience.

This year I could only spend six days there, compared to my usual three to four weeks. Such a short stay reinforces the importance to me of being able to take some time off to go up there in the summer. On this trip I tried to take some photos to illustrate why this native Texan needs to become a Yooper each July. The pictures canít fully convey the cool breezes, cold waters, fresh air, and woody smells that accompanied their taking, but they can at least provide a sample of the visual beauty that has drawn our family back for four generations.

This is my favorite photo from the trip, taken on a sunset ride in our boat. The sunsets here often feature spectacular hues of orange and pink. This one was more subdued, but somehow the Sun, its reflection, and the curl of the wake came together perfectly for this shot. (Large version.)

Another dusky picture. In the foreground is our neighbor’s dock. In the background, the tiny — but expensive — Dollar Island. (Large version.)

Me, Mom, and the mutt.

Our mahagony Chris-Craft, The Kid. One piece of wisdom says that if God had meant for us to have fiberglass boats, he would have given us fiberglass trees. Another defines a boat as a hole in the water into which one throws money. They’re both true. Fortunately, I don’t face the latter burden quite yet!

The cottage. Its high ceilings and large porch provide ample room for the family; its many eaves provide summer housing for the local bat population. They rarely make their way into the house (with two very memorable exceptions!), but the acoustics do sometimes give the illusion that they’re right in the room with you. And if they are, well, then it’s time to grab a racket and work on your forehand (alas, there are no better solutions). Bat-tennis, anyone?

This giant swing hangs from a beam and faces the fireplace. It’s the ideal spot for making indoor s’mores or lying down by the fire.

This is not a particularly good photo, but this is the view from our front porch. You can see the trail heading down to the beach where I still prefer a cold bath in the lake to a hot shower. Notice the vividness of the colors! After being around D. C. for a while, living surrounded by such blues and greens was a wonderful change.

It pays to look at the skies sometimes. I couldn’t photograph it, but the night sky here is breathtakingly clear.

I have an inexplicable affinity for this photo of the woodpile. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have to split it into firewood this year thanks to my short stay.

And finally, Divot. He loves the place, too.

Still to come: a photographic sailing lesson.