Saturday, April 24, 2010
Friends and Road and Sunshine
There it is: my road. I feel very proprietary toward it, and you can have your old expressway. Just leave me M-37, shown here looking south, from near Baldwin. It’s one of my favorite roads in the world because (1) it’s two-lane; (2) it goes through lovely forest; (3) it goes through little towns; (4) traffic on it is usually light; and (5) whether I’m driving north or south, it’s taking me to people and places infinitely dear to my heart.
Wednesday was a cold, grey morning in Traverse City, but on down the road a while the sunshine broke through and stayed with me for the rest of my time away. Trees and shrubs and flowers were blooming everywhere in Kalamazoo, dogwood in its delicate, ethereal, just-beginning phase.
While Sarah was not with me (I kept thinking she was in the back seat, then remembering she wasn’t, and this happened over and over), my friends’ dog, Nadine, added her doggie best to the ministrations of Godfrey and Laurie, extraordinary hosts, to comfort and cheer a battered soul. Five stars to my friends!
The visit held too much for me to describe and illustrate it all, and I didn’t even get pictures of everything. For example, I can’t believe I forgot to take pictures of Vaughn Baber and Bicentennial Books on Westnedge Avenue, a shop flourishing in that neighborhood since 1975. My friend Barbara Buysse’s show of paintings downtown in the Epic Center (Arts Council gallery) I did photograph, going back a second day to do so. Seeing that show was one of my primary motivations for making a trip I could scarcely afford at this time of year; seeing my son again and friends I missed on our whirlwind passage through earlier in the month were other reasons.
(I need to mention some books, at least parenthetically, so I’ll tell you that Barbara gave me an old travel-food memoir called Paris is a Nice Dish. Prices were given in old francs, very cumbersome after the war, what with inflation and all. I took along on the trip Guy de la Valdene's For a Handful of Feathers. More about that another time.)
On Thursday, Earth Day, my friend Laurie and I worked in the woods behind her house pulling mustard garlic. We had done a big pull-out two years before--and she works at it steadily when I’m not around--with very good results. The object is to prevent this invasive species from taking over and smothering all the dear little local natives—the Mayapple, jack-in-the-pulpit, trillium, wild ginger, etc.
It’s a lot of work, all that bending and stooping, but the company and surroundings could not have been more congenial and beautiful, and we were both very satisfied to be observing the day in such an appropriate manner.
Now for today’s botany mystery. It shouldn’t be a mystery, because I should know the name of this grass, but it has slipped my mind. Anyone???
Then there was Friday’s trip home. I took a different route, starting by driving west to South Haven. Overwhelming! So many changes in that little town, so much new development, that I couldn’t even make my way to the beach! North along the coast I came to the tiny, quiet crossroads called Glenn, where I caught my breath gratefully.
There was the sweet little shop owned by people who regularly visit Dog Ears Books; unfortunately, their shop won’t be open until May, so I could not return the favor, much as I wanted to do so. Outside of town were farms with little black pigs in one field, chickens scratching in a garden in another yard, a horse standing by a fence. Nice! I turned back to Glenn and followed the road north to a small county park. The bad news (though even they are beautiful) was all the zebra mussel shells on the beach.
The good news, my reward for seeking out this beach, was finding what the locals there call a Glenn stone. It has another name. What do you call it?