2010.08.18 Bring my children home; I'll meet them Up North

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

I don’t think I am ever going to get used to the idea of my kids not living in close proximity...i.e. just down the block or even across town...or, my first choice—back in their old rooms. I’d like to go back to the days when people stayed put. It’s not like I don’t have a full life already, but even when they were younger and summer vacation neared its end, I lamented their return to school.

I just like to see them, to hug them, to exchange a knowing glance across the table. Technological marvels such as cell phones, e-mail, Skype and Facebook blunt the pain of distance, but, of course, there is nothing like sharing the same physical space.

So, we take every opportunity we can to visit with our kids, such as meeting Ben and Sarah in her neck of the woods since Ben could only get away for half a week.

A couple days before we went Up North to visit them and Sarah’s parents, they had all been in Petoskey and Carp Lake, up near the Mackinac Bridge.

Several times Sarah referred to something that had occurred when they were there—and she used the expression Up North.

“I thought we were Up North!” I said, and David echoed the same.

We were at her family’s cottage in Elk Rapids, north of Traverse City, and with a stop for forgotten toiletries, an El Azteco take-out of six enchilada dinners, and a quick lunch, we’d been on the road for at least five hours—surely long enough to be Up North!

It’s all relative of course—just where Up North begins and ends—but three days up in that territory sure makes me wish I was a year-round resident. Even though I came back sunburned from stupidity—I didn’t even drape a shirt over my shoulders—I so enjoyed our short jaunt visiting delightful people, swimming in the amazingly tepid waters of Little Traverse Bay, viewing an art fair, and sailing on an absolutely perfect day.

But, then, I always want to live wherever I’m visiting—or where I’m hearing wonderful things about.

Take Philadelphia, for example. Through the wonders of Facebook—specifically Sarah Hoadley’s page—I learned about a chocolate store so wonderful I was ready to pack up my belongings and set sail. Or, at least yell, “Road trip!”

“Naked Chocolate Café”...doesn’t the name just make you want to live right around the corner from it? And if you go to the website, you’ll really see what I mean.

I don’t post much on Facebook, but I do check in almost daily to see what’s up here and there. It’s where I read Molly McDowell’s great-sounding recipe for zucchini muffins (post that again, Molly!) and where I learned Michelle Begnoche is returning to Michigan to accept a job with the Michigan Film Office. Is this the start of a new trend, I wonder? Are 20-something ex-Michiganders working their way back to Michigan?

The job market doesn’t look like it will be expanding any time soon to lure Ben and Sarah back to Michigan. And, I’ve resigned myself to the idea that when it does, Up North holds many more attractions than Down South on the Ohio Border—sailing, jet skiing, swimming in a Great Lake and its bays, hunting Petoskey stones, fishing, art fairs—and that’s just the summer fun.

So, I think the strategy now is to convince all my children to pool their resources together to acquire a cottage. They can follow the example of my friend Kate.

Twenty-some years ago, Kate had the land—just outside of Benzonia—but not the house. So, she put an ad in the paper asking if anybody had a house they wanted to get rid of. Somebody did and, for $6,500, she moved it to her land. You can read all about it on page 119 of The Ultimate Cheapskate’s latest book, “The Cheapskate Next Door: The surprising secrets of Americans living happily below their means.”

Start writing that ad, guys.

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    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.
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    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.
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  • 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.
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    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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