Readers of this blog may recall that this has not been the easiest year so far. Stephen is very slowly recovering from a hip replacement and bad drug reaction. He is still limping on a cane, and can walk maybe a quarter of a mile, slowly. I thought our vacationing this year would consist of our trips to Tower Grove Park. But a couple of weeks ago, Stephen—in his typical bold and courageous fashion—asked to go to Michigan for a couple of weeks of vacation. I had my doubts about being able to pull this off. But I figured out a way to do it. We would visit our friends in La Crosse for the weekend, and then explore Door County for the following week. At any point, should we need to return home early, it would be relatively easy to terminate the trip.
Twenty years ago we had a series of wonderful August trips to Michigan and Wisconsin, and they still shimmer vividly in our memories. At that time, I needed to get away from late summer ragweed pollen in the worst way, and read that upper Michigan was relatively pollen free. Little did I imagine that these two northern midwest states held some of the most engaging landscape and scenery in the world, and lots of it. I can remember us climbing up the steep, razor-straight slopes of the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes under deep blue skies. The angles of dune, horizon and lake painted abstract landscape art. I can still hear in my mind the slapping of the waves upon the beach, the clops of horses hooves in front of carriages and the distinctive stable smells of Mackinaw Island. I can still feel and smell the dribble of juice down my chin from the just bitten-into freshly picked apple. We took a ferry to Beaver Island and rode rented bikes around it, taking shelter in an abandoned red river shed when an unexpected thunderstorm blew up.
I think I was most worried about our abilities to top these memories, given our age and medical condition. But what I discovered was that my worry was wasted. Sure, our progress is slow compared to yester-decade. Sure, now climbing a few stairs is as big a deal as climbing a small hill was then. Sure, dinner marks the beginning of the end of an evening, instead of just the beginning of an evening. Sure, now we photograph the lighthouse instead of climbing up to the top of it. Sure, we look for beaches and nature trails with benches here and there.
So what. There is something very peaceful and satisfying about sitting into the sunset.