By Brooke Whitten
As August arrives, Im forced to pack my belongings into boxes and
suitcases for a third time. Im getting ready to start my junior year at
Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. Im only four semesters
away from graduating with a major in photojournalism and minor in outdoor
and environmental education.
As some college students might agree, shoving possessions into boxes gets
a little bit easier each time. Its a routine we are forced to become
accustomed to. What I am never quite prepared for however, is saying see
you later to the place that I was fortunate enough to have been born and
raised in, Northern Michigan.
There is no place I would rather be, especially in the summertime. What
is difficult to come to terms with is the fact that I really did not
appreciate this place until I left. Mount Pleasant is about as flat as you
can get, and pretty dry when it comes to the water situation.
What I am going to miss about Northern Michigan spreads from Empire to
Lake Leelanau; from the little shops in Glen Arbor, to the Grocers
Daughter chocolates near Crystal Lake, Cedars Blue Moon Ice Cream Shop
and not to mention Plevas hotdogs. Those are the only dogs Ill eat,
besides an occasional brat, but only if its cooked with a stick over a
campfire. North Bar Lake and Leland will be on my mind, along with
Fishtown and Suttons Bay.
Recreation in Northern Michigan brings my feet back to the ground,
clearing my head of any negative connotation or emotion. A reassuring hike
reminds me that there are still good things in this world and that there
is still so much world to be seen and walked on. It makes me feel small,
and my problems even smaller.
Stormer Road in Empire leads past a farmhouse with a giant red barn.
Across from the barn there is a trail that escorts you into the woods. As
you hike, you are overcome with the sweet smell of leeks and fresh air.
From the forest youll see an old barn and what looks like a domed cellar
that was built into the side of a grass-covered mound. Past the cellar,
which is a wonderful spot for sunbathing, resting and chats with fellow
hikers, you enter a field surrounded by tree-covered hills. There is a
narrow pathway overcome by grass, weeds and little critters such as
grasshoppers and bumblebees.
While making your way through the field, there is a slender sand path that
makes for an awesome workout. You climb straight up and around a few turns
through tall trees and roots in the trail. At the top of the climb you
realize the trudge was all worth the shortness of breath and sweat.
The view is Lake Michigan. So big and blue, its like it has been sitting
there waiting for you to arrive. We dont have bluffs, much less hills,
where I am going.
Ill miss the pleasure of sitting on top of a hill with a few friends,
absorbing the sunset over Lake Michigan. Whats stunning about Northern
Michigan is the array of places to sit and watch a sunset. So many choices
and different grounds to explore, I always wonder why I even left this
One could say Northern Michigans terrain has shaped me into who I am.
Its never easy saying goodbye, however reassuring that this is my home,
our home. Ill be back.