Autumn View

A large braid of sweet grass perched on the dashboard by the air vent scented the interior of the car as we cruised along the shoreline of Lake Superior. It was a rare, perfect autumn day: the sky was blue, a crisp and breezy 43° F and the colors were at their peak.

The trip began with a stop at the Dancing Crane in Bay Mills. My husband went for the heavy-duty coffee with a dab of cream while I indulged in spiced chai. The purchase of the sweet grass braid added the aroma of fall and the outdoors to our adventure.

We stopped at a variety of locations along the route to take in brisk views of the shoreline and let our dog have a day of new scents and sights. Even though there were only a few cars at favored pull-outs, we found one all to ourselves at Pendill’s Creek.

A boy and his dog

Hubby and the fur kid walking along the Lake Superior shoreline at the mouth of Pendill’s Creek.

Being in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, traffic is fairly sparse. My husband recorded sounds of the wind rustling through the leaves, close-ups of the brilliant colors and playing with settings we discovered on our iPhones.

We visited Avery Lake and enjoyed listening to the sounds of wind, water and creatures scurrying through the leaf matter. The smell of damp reminded me of times spent walking the woods in the late fall along the Platte River, fishing for steelhead with my Dad.

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Clusters of fungi were hidden treasures at Avery Lake.

I greedily took pictures of anything with color. Hubby was in his bliss as he teased out filtered light through the leaves. It was such a beautiful day after a week of overcast skies and rain that the yellow and reds almost hurt the eyes. Of course, viewing the world through polarized lenses was even more magnificent than what my meager phone lens could digitize.

Avery Lake road

Spot the photographer

Common grouse scooted across the Avery Grade as we rolled along the forest road. We drove through tunnels of yellow maples, birch and aspens, brown oaks and dashes of dark green pines as we navigated our way to Tower Road.

Avery Grade forest road

A continuous line of arching maples created a beautiful canopy along Avery Grade road.

The afternoon was wearing on and traffic was beginning to pick up. We passed a whole five vehicles on the back roads until we reached the Mission Hill overlook. A crowd of bikers and the curious were parked to take in the view. With nowhere left to stop and gawk, we continued down the hill and back to the Dancing Crane for one last stop before home.

Dancing Crane Coffee House

Dancing Crane Coffee House, a good place to start and finish to top-off on a trip.

Of course, the skies grew overcast by evening, and the next day was wet with periodic rain showers. But we have our sights, sounds and smells to remind us of why we love autumn in the U.P.

 

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Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks

It has been an interesting week leading up to Thanksgiving.

A friend passed away at 88 years on Monday morning. Since my husband is such a close friend to the deceased and his family, that he is assisting preparations for a viewing this coming weekend. Unfortunately, it means not being able to travel to see my mom and brother.

It’s a great disappointment to miss celebrating the holiday with my family. Gratefully, my mom and brother understand the obligations we have for our friend’s family. Even Christmas plans have changed and we will not be visiting my in-law family.

There are many families who will be together, but it may not be special for them, either. There are the working poor, the disabled poor, the spiritual poor, and those who are simply the unfortunate poor.

My church, which has a small food pantry, received a call late last week to find out if we were doing Thanksgiving baskets this year. The caller was told “yes”, we could do one for her family.

I started ticking off the things the pantry had previously put into Thanksgiving baskets. The household has two children. How old? What would they want to eat? The typical list seemed so blah. I wanted it to be special. After a bit of hemming and hawing I called the requestor and asked, “Why don’t you go shopping with me?”

When I picked her up, her little boy came along which was a bit of a surprise. He turned out to be a charming imp, as most boys are, and kept presenting items to his mom for purchase. The items weren’t expensive or particularly frivolous. But what she told him after saying “no” was that “it’s a want, not a need”.  I was awed. And a few treats just happened to make their way into the cart.

The next day I returned to her home with a turkey donated by a member of my congregation. When the recipient opened the door, her eyes nearly popped out of her head at the sight of the huge 23-pound turkey. Fortunately, it was in a suitably sized baking pan. Her limited resources would not have been able to accommodate cooking such a gift. It was an emotional moment when I said good-bye and closed her door (she did, after all, literally have her hands full).

So, as Thanksgiving approaches, I give thanks. Thanks that although my family may be in another city or state, they are still with me in other ways, and thanks for being able to help another. And to always remember the difference between wants and needs.

Happy Thanksgiving – give thanks and give.

 

 

 

The support of friends

There’s something to be said for the support of friends.

My positions at work were eliminated in June in a fairly typical corporate fashion. However, I was not alone. Altogether, there were about five of us in the “administrative” category and a few of the “support personnel” which led to a long chain of bumping. It was a surprise, but not completely unexpected. Holding two part-time positions makes for easy pickings when budgets seek staff reduction. Nevertheless, the shock of the suddenness of it all lasted quite a while. Fortunately, my husband still works there with an added level of responsibility due to other departures.

The people I left behind are generous, thoughtful, amazing individuals. Even those affiliated from a distance reached out to offer their support. Many kind words were said and written.

Today, those people arranged an after work gathering on a whim. It was heartwarming to see all the familiar faces and get a chance to catch up with them about their trips, a child’s wedding, and our trip. Some were tan and blonde-streaked from days in the sun and others looked pretty crispy from time on the water. Jobs may come and go, but it is the people who matter. And for that, I am grateful.

 

Iceland

We recently returned from a cruise around western Iceland. Day 1 managed to get posted from our hotel after arrival. But after that, all bets were off. Connections on board ship were pretty basic. So the blog had to wait until we got home.

Of course our internet modem’s brain decided to go MIA, requiring a new unit and installation. Finally, photos have been downloaded and the writing has begun. See the day-by-day posts for Iceland.

Thank you Mom for inviting us to come along! 

L'Austral

 

White Morels

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white morels

Yum! Found these beauties in the lawn outside the Visitors’ Center at Sable Lake Dunes outside of Grand Marais.

The year following the Duck Lake fire, we visited the site of the Rainbow Lodge. It was my first experience wandering through a fire ravaged forest. Took days to get the soot out of our shoes and skin. But the hatful of black morels that accompanied our dinner was worth it. Had enough left over for breakfast.