I often share overly personal information about my family on Mostly Teachable, but neglect to share some of the honest to goodness details of my happy life here in the wilds of Southern Michigan. This year I plan to post my photo collection from each Week That Was. To kick off 2013, I thought I’d go back into my vault and share some of what turned out be a really nice 2012. Here are some of the pictures from the last 12 months:
Last Wednesday I posted about being a solitary person and having a need at times to step back from life and just think. Over the days that followed, I drove deep into the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, far past Mackinaw and the pasties, fudge and smoked fish that are meant to lure in us southern dwellers. Even though I am a Michigander by birth, my trips over the bridge to the U.P. have been few. The world of the Yoopers is different. Towns are few and far between and most consist of small grocery stores, or gas and bait shops that cater to hunters and fisherman on their way to lodges. Over a seventy mile stretch of two lane highway, a driver might only encounter five passing lanes. For the most part, if you get stuck driving behind tourists, there will be a grinding wait before being able to pass the slow vehicle in front of your bumper.
Each morning on my visit to the U.P., I made a habit of waking up at six a.m. and then watching through the window for the first “barely there” strains of dawn. At half past, I’d lace up my running shoes and head out into the woods. After a half mile, I’d reach a paved road that wound its way through the Hiawatha National Forest. There are few times in life when I’ve felt so absolutely alone. The further I’d traipse away from the cabin, the more isolated I began to feel. The trees seemed to grow around and over me, only allowing the sunrise to break just a bit over their tops. I smelled nothing but the cool scent of piney woods wafting on the breeze mingled with the fish smell rolling off of the lakes. Alone in the woods, I wondered what would happen if I ran across a bear. After twenty minutes went by on the road without seeing a car or any dwellings, there arose a flutter of panic in me. Then it vanished. For the first time since living in Grand Teton as a young man, or the year spent roaming the Delaware Water Gap, did I feel truly at home. In emptiness, as well as in quiet, did I find peace and the realization that I am infinitely small in the vastness of God’s world. The world is and will continue to be and my small footprint is just…small.
On its margin the great forest
Stood reflected in the water,
Every tree-top had its shadow,
Motionless beneath the water.
From the brow of Hiawatha
Gone was every trace of sorrow,
As the fog from off the water,
And the mist from off the meadow.
With a smile of joy and triumph,
With a look of exultation,
As of one who in a vision
Sees what is to be, but is not,
Stood and waited Hiawatha. H.W. Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha.