This story comes to us from Keven of Ann Arbor, Michigan. She writes, “This story is about the realization that the beauty of Michigan is comparable to even the likes of the Pacific Northwest.”
Here is her story:
I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough…after all, nothing in Michigan could compare to the splendor of the mountains and waters of the Puget Sound. I grew up in Jackson and now, at 19, was making Seattle my home.
And what a home it was, for 24 years. Taking advantage of its sights I left no trail, mountain, or coastline unturned; no eagle, bear, or bobcat unnoticed. Whether by bike, foot, ski, or boat, I embraced and cherished its beauty.
At 43, family circumstances brought me back to Michigan to help my aging parents. After getting settled, my husband and I decided to go “Up North” exploring – maybe even find a Petoskey stone. We rented a cottage in Frankfort in early October, on Lake Michigan’s shore.
As we drove the contrast between the rugged, mountainous deep green terrain of the West and this flat, endless canvas of Autumn foliage was undeniable. White clouds billowed like cotton-candy tinted with deep violets and reds from the setting sun, round as a peach and dropping towards the horizon. So different than the West, I acknowledged, but certainly no less beautiful! And this was when the first pang of guilt struck.
We arrived at the cottage after dark, the Lake unseen but making its presence known through crashing waves, hard and angry, lashing at us as strong winds flung sand in our eyes.
Seagulls’ screeches woke us early the next morning, ensuring we not miss another second of the day. We slipped outside onto the creamy white dunes and into gnarled pines scattered around the cottage. Whitecaps broke thirty yards out and the soft dunes gave way to hard-packed wet-brown sand that briefly held our footprints then filled with water, as if denying our presence.
Hundreds of smooth round rocks dotted the beach. Among them, elusive Petoskey stones lay nestled like prizes in a Cracker Jacks box. To our right the Pt. Betsy lighthouse stood, weathered and stoic, a tiny dot that grew steadily larger as we hiked towards it until finally, its presence overtook us.
Later, we stood on the edges of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, walked along Acadia Bluffs golf course, and hiked in the golden, crisp foliage around a sapphire blue Crystal Lake. The guilt came steadily now. Why I wondered, had I been so quick to dismiss my home state years ago, to turn my back and seek what I thought were “greener pastures”? Dropping my head in embarrassment, I offered words of forgiveness.
The next morning, before leaving, we took one last walk on the beach. Bending low, I saw it then – gray and plain – yet bearing the markings of a Petoskey stone. Drying it off with my shirt tail and sticking it in my pocket, I felt the sun poke out from behind a cloud warming me, smiling. I smiled back, knowing then that I had been forgiven.
Thanks for sharing that great story with us, Keven.