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.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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