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Monday, May 25, 2015

Beautiful Landscape in Human Scale

We went downstate on Friday for a family wedding on Saturday and spent two nights in rural Van Buren County, stopping in Plainwell (Allegan County) on our way and then taking D Avenue west to Van Buren Youth Camp, the setting for the weekend wedding party. Although there were plenty of cows and horses in the neighborhood, it was nothing like our past winter's digs, and we observed once again how human is the scale of Michigan landscape. Lake Michigan, of course, is magnificent in scope and grandeur, as are the Sleeping Bear Dunes, but most of what lies inland -- woods and fields or meadows bordered by woods -- has a quieter, more ordinary kind of beauty that speaks to us of home.

In the Southwest, geology on a vast scale of time and space obsessed us. Not so Michigan. "The four ice ages that we define as Pleistocene are relative recent geologic events," writes Thomas H. Hooker in his new book, The Last Ice Age and the Leelanau Peninsula: Pleistocene and Lake Michigan. Glaciers and dunes, moraines, old Lake Nipissing, the ancient Algonquin shoreline -- it's all here in this little book, itself presenting a story in manageable scale. The glossary brings back to me memories of misty, long-ago high school earth science classes, as do helpful charts and tables, while color photographs make clear that this is the story of our very own Up North neighborhood.

The Last Ice Age and the Leelanau Peninsula beautifully complements Dennis Albert's Born of the Wind: Michigan Sand Dunes, along with The Lake Michigan Rock Picker's Guide, a perennial favorite and must-have northern Michigan cottage title. Yes, it's good to be home again.


Karen Casebeer said...

So glad you had a good trip to the Kazoo area. Did you stop at Plainwell Ice Cream? Best ice cream ever!! And Van Buren Youth Camp is well know to me also, mainly because good friends of mine (The Washburns) ran it for years. Let summer begin! Karen

P. J. Grath said...

Karen, how interesting that friends of yours ran the camp, now celebrating its 75th anniversary. No, we did not stop for ice cream in Plainwell, because we had stopped earlier in the day at Jones Ice Cream in Baldwin. Black raspberry -- yum!