In early morning light at Fayette Historic State Park, I wake in the tent. I cringe at the ache in my shoulder from sleeping on the thick foam mattress we had bought for camping; this is what 40 does to a person. Gone are the days when I would bounce back after sleeping on only a simple mat in the forest, now I need plush and comfort to soothe my muscles.
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.
Seeing the first flaming red tree this year in Harbor Springs filled me with a sense of urgency. I wanted to capture the fall colors before winter snuffed them out. Like a cat rising, fall stretched out slowly with a graceful arch. The first golden flecks turned into forest and then suddenly the whole world was a patchwork quilt of stunning shades of the season.
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.
My next trip to Nepal, Bhutan and India seemed so far away at one point, slowly edging their way into my present. Now the trip is picking up speed and soon I’ll be flying over snow-capped mountains. Back home it is fall in Michigan, I’ve been savoring the season I missed on my year long journey across oceans. It was also slow to appear this year with warm weather reaching far into October. I caught it earlier up north while exploring Mackinac Island, Tahquamenon Falls, and Tawas.
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.