Christopher Robin and I traveled to Michigan to celebrate his first 4th of July as a citizen. Here are a few observations.
10. It is a long way from the Detroit airport to upstate, especially on the Thursday before a Saturday 4th of July, and especially when you’ve been flying since 6 am from Colorado, and you narrowly escape the crash of United computers at O’Hare Airport, where there are a lot of annoyed and exhausted passengers. We arrived at Lake Walloon at 8 pm, just about as strung out as if we’d crossed the ocean to England. Luckily, our hosts grilled exquisite fillet mignon and served them with perfect rounds of mozzarella, tomato, basil, and balsamic vinegar with a smooth red wine.
9. Lake Walloon is where Hemingway grew up. It is surrounded by thick pine and leafy green forest that boasts no snakes except the friendly sort, and I’m not afraid of them. 900 (or so) people have “cottages” around this lake, some that are quite old and made of logs. There are also two summer camps, which made me think of Trixie Belden and my own girlhood at camps of whatever sort I could find–girl scout, High Trails (which is probably a Colorado thing), church, whatever.
8. On Lake Walloon I read Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories and found them dismayingly filled with the N word and had to stop. I know he was a product of his times. But I am a person of my times and the casual dehumanization was bothersome enough that I couldn’t keep reading. Result: my love/hate relationship with Hemingway continues.
7. On Lake Walloon, we ate s’mores, roasted over a fire pit by two boys in a still night with the lake rippling against the shore in sibilant commentary.
6. At Boyne City, Michigan, the 4thof July parade is an Americana beauty, complete with little girls waving from fire truck windows, and flowers provided by the garden club. There were hats and pants and clowns suits and shirts all made of the stars and stripes, more stars and stripes than you have ever seen in one place, and it was all done without one tiny whit of irony. Three times people behind us leaptout of the crowd to join some marching band or float passing by. Also, the entire downtown was still completely alive, populated with businesses like a hardware store and a fudge shop and whatever else.
5. In Boyne City the day before, we met a man sitting with his beautiful labradoodle in front of an ice cream store. The dog was so lovely we stopped to admire him, and the man told his sad story of a wife who’d left him with the dog. We all said, “The dog is a better deal,” but he was still so raw he didn’t know it yet.
4. Our host patiently taught me to kayak, and it was seriously fantastic. I don’t want big rapids or danger or trouble, but paddling in the smooth waters of the lake was deeply, powerful meditative and I could do it for days unending. (Note: as with all things, the secret is to relax into the whole thing.)
3. The traffic back to Detroit on the Monday after the 4th of July is also really insane.
2. In Ann Arbor I went with my aunt and uncle, who are practicing Hindus, to a Guru Purnima celebration, which commemorates our teachers. My aunt produced a flowing yellow outfit for me to wear, and we meditated and chanted and I loved being with them on such a sacred night.
1. The next day, we visited Zingermans, a foodie heaven, where they have things like chocolate sourdough bread and exquisite olive oils, and my own particular reason for visiting:Balsamic vinegars, and I tasted several before deciding upon the 20-year-old. My aunt, who is a foodie from before it was cool, naturally had a couple of bottles at home, along with her shelves and shelves of great ingredients and drawers full of utensils.
All vacations should be so filled with love, friendship, and the pursuit of passions. I’m refreshed, renewed and ready to get back to work!
How was your 4th of July? Do you find it corny or uplifting? How do you celebrate in your corner of the world?