I stand on a metal ledge, about a foot in width, and its dark, early morning, and a misstep would result in a fall into Lake Huron. I started at the bow, climbing over the 3 and a half foot wall onto the ledge, cleaning all 10 windows as I scooted down until I reached the small loading bay, which I would also climb over, safely back onto the boat and the goal of this was to do it without incident and I always did, even though the dew made the ledge wet.
The ferry company complained sometimes about my work, claiming I wasn’t doing a good enough job, they saw streaks in the windows, really just the windows were their only problem. My response was always along the lines of, well, you are buying paper towels you would find in a community college bathroom and window cleaner from the dollar store, so what do you expect. That would shut them up.
After cleaning the boat at the dock across from my house, I would ride my bike through the empty main drag through town to the other passenger dock, the air cool and moist, and it made me feel like I was in the Pacific Northwest. I would pass empty fudge shops, and that too-tan-old-lady on her daily morning power walk, and jewelry shops and Victorian style homes turned to bed and breakfasts. The seagulls were still quiet.
A quick scan over the catamaran, making sure the night guys did a C+ job, which they always did. The seats, the carpet, all red, a Christmas kind of red, and the armrests green, also contributing to the Christmas factor. It all looked mostly clean.
Jay would show up, and would waddle over to the valet shack, which was literally a tin shack which ran our valet system for over-night tourists staying on the island. He was always chipper, and he had been especially chipper as of late, thanks to his daily delivery of day-old bread, his bear bait and Jimmy would fill Jay’s little Escort to the brim with loaves of Sarah Lee bread, white, wheat, didn’t matter, Jay wanted to shoot a bear. I don’t think he ever did though, at least when I lived in Saint Ignace.
My recently acquired vehicle was old, but I didn’t care, because it was mine and everyone’s first car should be old. When you get your first car, you go on a road trip, so I did. I packed the unneeded things for camping in my trunk until it was full, and packed the rest in my back seat, of mostly camping equipment, bought a car phone charger, and set off to my first destination, a lake town on the north side of Detroit, where my friend’s parents welcomed me with barbecue
chicken and guacamole. Their house was on a lake, and pontoons putted by as we ate on their deck in the evening light beside the lake and it was wonderful.
In the morning, my friend and I ate tea and toast and rode our bikes on the Painted Creek Trail, and after lunch at a diner, I returned to the expressway, and traveled west to Ludington, where I would camp for the next two days.
The directions led me into the countryside, and my car and I drove unleveled roads along expanses of corn but being from Illinois where nothing but corn is grown, I was unsure what the other crops were. Then woods appeared, and I followed it until I reached the road I was supposed to turn on and I was greeted by an expanse of huge oak trees, there branches reaching out to the road, ferns closing in on my car’s tires and at the feet of the oaks. The road went slightly down hill for 7 miles through oaks and ferns until I found my campsite which operated on the honors system. I quickly setup my site and got on my bike to explore, backtracking a mile and taking a different road I spotted as I came in and I was greeted by a forest of red pine, tall, thick trunks, rusty red bark, they like sandy soil, which made sense, because here I was, only a 10th of a mile from the dunes that lined Ludington. A trail swiveled around in the mass of trees and I touched their bark, as I always do to trees, because they all feel different. The red pine bark was smooth and the trees collected together in a dense mass, as if they were congregating to talk.
I stood amongst the trees and was humbled by the thought that I was here, on my own, enjoying my own adventure.
p.s. The picture is what I saw when I found the red pine, taken by me.
I feel awful that I have yet to post, but I take commitments very seriously. Over the past several weeks that I have been thinking about my threads, I have been reminded, if anything, of how many things I love and enjoy, and wish I had the time and energy to immerse myself in and learn more about. There are so many wonderful things in this world. People who complain about how awful the world is annoy me, because yes, in a sense, they are right, but for every wrong done, there are a thousand good things done in response. After the terrorist attack in Boston, there were countless stories of people simply loving one another, even stories of runners who after finishing the marathon kept on running another 2 miles to the nearby hospital to donate blood.
The world is like our first car; it is far from perfect, has dents in the hood and door, rust on the passenger fender, a muffler that makes more noise than its name implies, and leaks oil, but despite its imperfections, we still love that car, because it gave us freedom, sunshine through open windows, and the rite of passage to finally say, “I can pick you up.”
I am learning more and more how much good there is around us, how much beauty is sitting right at our feet and how all we have to do is acknowledge it exists.
That being said, here are my three threads:
My obsession: Trees
My historical event: The growth of the suburbs in Chicago
My personal thread: Chronicling my time spent in Mackinac