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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

South (Bend) to North(port)--Home!

We had our first sight of a three-bottomed semitrailer on the blessedly short stretch of toll road we traveled (my opinion: a toll road should not be bumpy) between South Bend, Indiana, and the Middlebury turnoff. Eek!

North of Middlebury on two-lane we had to slow for farm machinery. I never mind that. In fact, I love it! “No farms, no food.” True. This feels more like home.

Lowry’s books (Tom Lowry, prop.), still serving community and visitors in the heart of downtown Three Rivers, Michigan, along with a newcomer, the Stray Dog Bookshop and Coffee Bar (Larry Nelson, prop.), back on a side street in Three Rivers. Stray Dog has used and antiquarian, Lowry’s has everything in the way of books and more besides. Both merit long stops.

Blue scilla were blooming in the yard of Kalamazoo friends. We sat out in the sun next to them (humans sat by flowers, that is), enjoying the moment. Dinner later with family was full of laughter and good humor, finishing off with lemon Easter cupcakes. Yea, Carson and Chelsea!

Yes, we are—back in Great Lakes country!

At a quick gas station stop outside Mesick for coffee to go, I couldn’t resist this brightly decorated donut. It looked like a holiday, appropriate to the day. The girl behind the counter apologized, saying she wasn’t all that good at making them yet and pointing out that the result was somewhat lopsided (I really couldn’t see that), adding with a smile, “But it was made with heart.” “And,” I replied happily, “it was made in Michigan!” to which she responded, “That’s important these days, isn’t it?” We exchanged comments on the beauty of the sunshine and parted, probably forever, and that’s the whole story. But imagine it differently: put an unhappy clerk who hates her job on one end or a rushed, impatient, surly customer on the other, and the brightness would have gone out of the day. As it was, I returned to the car smiling, buoyed up for the home stretch. Friendliness and goodwill from stranger to stranger, in small encounters such as these, are that powerful.

Look at this pile of snow! It’s filthy! So why does it bring a wide smile to my face, as if it were a blooming dogwood tree? David and I had both wondered how it would feel to come back Up North to the ragged end of winter, with everything still brown and squashed down (cattails in the wetlands, last year’s bracken at forest edges), patches of snow lingering, no green yet in the woods. Is it only thanks to the sunshine that it feels so good, that everything actually looks great to us, just as it is?

Our first sight of Grand Traverse Bay!

The colors of the Bay were practically tropical, ranging from deep blue through brilliant aquamarine through sparkling clear water through which we could see the sand bottom. “It’s never looked prettier!”

There’s the sign for Northport!

Snow in the woods….

…but crocuses blooming in the yard!


Anonymous said...

Welcome home! Just tried to call on your home phone (disconnected) and your cell didn't work either. Can't wait to connect voice to voice.

P. J. Grath said...

I just made phone calls from Sally's shop to resume service both at home and at the bookstore. By tomorrow we should be voice-reachable again. There is so much to catch up on! It's great to see that Barb's Bakery is open already and that Bruce at Eat Spot is serving breakfast again, five days a week starting at 8 a.m. Sally's new knitting corner at Dolls and More is so cozy I almost (not quite!) wish I were a knitter.