Whenever autumn starts to roll around, my heart always turns north, to the UP of Michigan.
For years and years, the UP was the only place my late parents went on vacation – they’d pack their van, take a grocery store’s worth of goods with them, and settle in for a few weeks on the desolate shores of Lake Superior.
As a twenty-something kid, I made fun of them for this. A lot.
I mean, going to the same place, over and over? A place where there is, like, NOTHING to do?
The year after my beloved Mum passed away from cancer, we arranged for my Dad and I to go “up north”, along with my (at the time) ten-month-old puppy. And suddenly… I got it.
I got the magnificent desolation, the pounding waves without a soul in sight, the waterfalls amongst the trees, the crisp air and bright sun, all of it.
I GOT IT.
I fell in love with all the waterfalls and beaches the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore around Munising. I raced Zoe up and down the deserted beaches of the Keweenaw. I marveled at the changing leaves in the Porkies. To this day, when someone says “imagine your happy place” (like, when I’m getting my blood pressure taken), I picture Miner’s Beach in the UP.
Dad and I made that trip several more times together, and not once did it feel repetitious or old hat or boring, it just felt… like coming home.
I’m hopinghopinghoping to take my new husband “up north” next year as the leaves begin to turn, so he can see the beauty I still dream about, even years later. Until then, I’ll flick through my pictures, listen for the waves in my mind, and miss the memory of both my parents, now gone, sitting on the shore… doing “nothing”.
Thanks, Mum and Dad.