The late summer sun shines on Michigan and as we sit outside and eat meals in the open air and dappled light, I’m taken back to the French countryside we visited one year ago. We began our journey in the tiny town of Lagnes. It wasn’t a place any of us had heard of and was not on any tourist websites or guides. It did, however, have what we wanted… charm and quiet in a small town surrounded by the fields of Provence.
Far up the freshwater coast, about four hours north of Detroit, straight highways start to grow graceful and curve into country roads. Past gentle slopes with horses grazing and pristine forests that stretch on for days, you’ll find the sleepy town of Harbor Springs. It’s a town where time catches its breath and releases the stresses of modern day. A hidden gem, it sparkles on the edge of Lake Michigan within a harbor on a bay. Settled along rich, teal-blue tones, the area is fed by natural springs and its cool waters make up the deepest harbor in the Great Lakes. This is a place to come back to, where Michigan’s summer shines best and families savor moments together year after year.
To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. ― Audrey Hepburn Many must have had the dream of tomorrow to create such a garden as Les Jardins Suspends de Marqueyssac. The Hanging Gardens of Marqueyssac are a wonder to see. This magnificent sculpture of green is my dream garden and my favorite of any I have seen in the world.
The golden city of Jaisalmer is a labyrinth of stone and sunlight. Its greatest feature, the Jaisalmer Fort rises out of a hill, rolling through the cloudless sky with a wave of curved outer walls. Built from yellow sandstone, it glows in the heart of Thar desert.
There is a time in late spring where women weave through flowers. Kimonos of color mirror the latest bloom in silk stitches. The trees are in celebration, decorating Kyoto with a sea of cherry blossoms.
If one ventures out into the wintry north, you can see the shores of Sleeping Bear Dunes painted white. Wearing ice cleats to have a sturdy pace, we made our way to the Lake Michigan Overlook to view them in January.
Wind whips my hair into a crazy tentacle frenzy as we ride into the desert. The windows are all down in the Bolero that zips past dry clouds of golden dust and Indian music filled with sitar and drums crackles out of the speakers. Cows create traffic jams on the otherwise empty road that leads us to our campsite. Suddenly we arrive to our oasis where we will join in a camel safari and all worries as to whether it would be the right decision dissolve. Beautiful grounds spread before us where peacocks strut in the brush and pink desert flowers bloom outside of our tent.
The ancient city of Bhaktapur is a jewel in the rough. On the outskirts of town, one could pass by without knowing what lies hidden within its unassuming walls. Hopping off the public bus with no shortage of colorful hanging beads and Bollywood beats, we wandered down the street looking for our guesthouse.
There is a shift that happens when one leaves and returns, especially when that space is over the span of a year around the world. Some of the friends you missed so much still seem far away during first conversations. You become a short-lived novelty, a talking point that lasts for an intro and then it’s back to the latest local gossip or next best thing on Netflix.
After wandering the world for a year, I yearned for home. The one place that tugged on my heart strings most was Mackinac Island and I planned a trip there months before I returned to Michigan. I have never lived there and the only thing it houses are memories. This magic island however, encapsulates the things I love most about the USA and the state I grew up in. It is a perfect slice of American pie that satisfies a soul searching hunger in me every time I return.