Staying A Lifetime
Updated: Mar 18
THE LADY BLUSTERED THAT SHE'D BEEN COMING to NW Michigan for thirty years, after I tried recommending shops for her to visit in greater Benzie and Leelanau counties. Implied in her rather abrupt response - she hadn’t just fallen off the turnip truck. Then I realized I could have one-upped her easily by declaring that I had been coming here for 65 years. The gentleman in me held back, forcing a soft smile to acknowledge her strong footing, but this truth was an eye-opener and numbed me after my calculation of the time that had lapsed since I first set foot in the region in the early 1950's.
My first recollection of the area was the M-22 highway. There were no traffic lights and a lush rolling countryside greeted me as I peered out the windows of my parent’s Ford wagon. We were indeed a family on vacation - a new generation of motoring public buoyed from the prosperity of post World War II Michigan, and my dad’s time off from work.
After our almost seven-hour trek in early August from the suburbs of Detroit to Glen Lake in Leelanau County, we finally arrived. It was so exciting as my dad parked our station wagon under a canopy of white pines next to our small rented cabins. The fragrance from the pine sap instantly hit me and the cooling shade only add to its mesmerizing effect. No air conditioning in the Ford and an anxious Springer Spaniel helped strengthen the distinctive contrast.
That first step out the wagon told me that planet Earth was delivering a gift. A woodsy scent wrapped you in a welcome that has not been matched, or improved upon in my lifetime. That first intake of air, so clearly ingrained in my memory, defines the perfect mix of woods, water, and sand.
When I catch that aroma today it takes me back in time where I can see my entire family bouncing from the Robin-egg-blue Ford full of smiles and anticipation.
Such a happy memory for me.