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.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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