The sun sets late in Northern Michigan. You play in the field after dinner, and watch the colors on the horizon at 9:30. It changes the way you think, the way you breathe. Your internal clock resets and you lose your sense of urgency and stress. You have all the time in the world. Time to watch the deer in the fields, and the bald eagle in the tree above the lake. You have time to howl at the coyotes and follow the hoots of the owl hunting in the woods.
There’s always time for one more beer on the dock as the lake becomes glass calm and the days winds calm down. Plenty of time to tell the same stories just one more time. Stories about apples and broken boats and beach roasts at the lake long ago. The laughter never subsides and there’s always new tales to tell.
The worries of real life just slide away. There’s no more expense reports or emails or deadlines. There’s just the lake, and the woods, and the fields, and family, and memories being made. The fish that got away. The days when we were all the kids and grandma and grandpa made the rules. And now, the sound of kids laughing in the loft as the grownups sit by the fire.
The stars are brighter in Michigan, the winds brisker, the water clearer. Everything is magnified a thousand times. From dunes as big and hot as any dessert to trees as thick and shaded as the deepest forests. The waves on Lake Michigan are as rough as any ocean and the sunsets from the bluff rival any picture postcard.
We live in the moment up here. With no schedules or expectations. It’s enough to cast your line in off the bow of the boat and wait. The fish might bite, or maybe they won’t, but it doesn’t really matter. Meals are had at the picnic table, baths are taken at the lake. And, in between, we ride our bikes, and kick the soccer ball, or take a walk in the woods, or boat down the river. It doesn’t really matter. We’re Up North. There’s time to do more tomorrow.
It’s hard to tear yourself away, to go back to the way things are every day. Your heart beats for the farm and the open sky. When you leave you bring a talisman with you. A threadbare sweatshirt, or a special mug. Or a small Petoskey stone that you drop in your pocket on days when you just need to be reminded that Michigan is only a few months away.