2002.08.07 Heading for the north

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I finally realized what I’d left. The last full day of vacation, the tent flapping in the wind rushing in off Lake Michigan—suddenly I could smell Morenci.

This seemed like an odd vacation for us. In recent trips, we’ve headed east across Ohio and Pennsylvania to reach New York City. We’d been on a string of those visits, and a week Up North was missing from our lives.

In New York City there’s not much time to lollygag. It takes a long day to get there and another long day to get back. There’s so much to see once you’re there, so there’s little time to waste. You have to be on the downtown train by midmorning and then it’s full speed ahead until dark.

By contrast, none of us even thought to bring a watch when we headed north last week. We had no definite plans about when we were leaving, where we were going, when we were to return. We finally settled on a visit to our friend, Kate, in Benzonia. We swam and floated down the Platte River. We paddled kayaks down the Betsie. We swam at Elberta and Cathead Bay and Peterson Park.

But we also sat around reading and talking, and we usually never left Kate’s house until after lunch. There was just no hurry.

Benzonia was our base and from there we traveled around Leelanau County. This included our favorite town, Sutton’s Bay, where Bruce Garland moved back in the early 1960s.

Did that name sound familiar to anyone? Mr. Garland was my seventh grade geography teacher. I have a couple clear memories from that class, although Mr. Garland would probably be disappointed to know that neither was connected to his teaching.

Geography class was the first one in the afternoon. It was that class in which Keith Walker returned from lunch and proceeded to throw it back up onto the floor.

It was that class in which I killed a fly by quickly snapping my textbook closed. When I reopened it, I discovered the dead fly posed on the tip of a Watusi warrior’s spear.

But take heart, Mr. Garland, I’ve always had a fascination with geography, and I’ll be glad to attribute it to your class.

I tried to tell him that last week when I went to Sutton’s Bay, but all I got was an answering machine. I learned from a post office employee there that she, too, had Mr. Garland for a teacher.

I learned from a local potter that Mr. Garland is a highly revered man in Sutton’s Bay. He’s retired from teaching, but he’s still regarded as one of finest people in town. There’s even a track meet named after him. Whenever they pass on the street, Mr. Garland always asks the potter how his children are doing. He has a sincere interest in his former students.

The potter said he would probably have an interest in a former student from Morenci, too, and so I called once more on our way out of town. Just the answering machine again.

When I got back to Kate’s, I rechecked the number in the phone book and discovered I left two puzzling messages on someone else’s machine. I reversed a couple of the numbers.

The rain came down in sheets Thursday as we left Sutton’s Bay. This was the one night of the week we planned to camp, and the weather didn’t look promising.

We lollygagged. We visited the town’s beautiful library. We headed up to Northport. Then over to Leland and by now the rain had stopped. Then we traveled back to Northport and on up to the state park. The storm was gone but the wind still whipped through the trees, and it continued all night long.

In the half light of early morning, I could see that our tent was in constant motion despite a windbreak of pines between us and the open water. The air was loud with the sound of wind blowing through the trees and waves crashing on the shore.

Thinking about weather transplanted me home to the rain gauge—still empty, I imagined—in the back yard. Right then I could smell the dried-out grass and feel the humidity back in Morenci.

And then the wind gusted hard and it was gone.

    – Aug. 7, 2002 
  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
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  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
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    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Front.batter

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