about bliss

Monday, July 16, 2007

up north adventures: the tao of lake michigan

Last Tuesday morning, I repacked my car and left my parents' home for a mini-break in Northport, Michigan with one of my best friends and her family (minus her husband, who had to return "downstate" to work). I decided to take the scenic route, following 31 up through the coastal towns of Grand Haven, Muskegon, Ludington, and Manistee, before angling over to the peninsula around Benzonia...the drive lulled me into calm joy interrupted with existential quadries about the sheer beauty of the land unfurling outside my car windows. Not being on a strict timetable, I stopped with every whim...for coffee in Manistee, for dried cherries in Glen Arbor, and more coffee and bread in Leland before arriving at the M's home.

The Leelanau Peninsula beckons with rolling dunes, verdant farmland, sumptuous Lake Michigan shores, and a smattering of small communities, each offering a new vista, a delicious eatery or two, and an individual ambience. I love this place. Why? I've been fortunate enough to spend a handful of days there every summer for the past 13 years, as the M's have graciously opened their home to H and her group of giggly, silly, rambunctious friends. Now we're not so rambunctious as we were at the beginning, but we're still giggly and silly, eating chocolate and talking about our dreams. We've grown up--some of us have husbands, some have babies, and some have drifted away. But the place remains, changing a bit with each year as a new winery pops up, or we discover a new favorite place to spread our silliness. This solitary visit didn't supplant the whole group visit, but was a chance for me to temporarily shake off the moving stress.

The Peninsula, and particularly the M's home, has always been my wonder spot, that place where nature's beauty soothes the stressful edges of everyday life, and the constant crash of waves in the background reminds me of the paradox of constant change/non-change.

On Thursday morning, I took a yoga class at the Leelanau Center for Contemplative Arts--yin yoga, which is deeply restorative--and the teacher concluded with a passage from the Tao te Ching, a text I used to read fairly regularly, the lessons of which are especially apropos now. Tears stung my eyes as my relaxation merged with the reminder of something familiar and strengthening.

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