I was just flipping through one of my old Moleskinswhen I found this entry dated June 29, 2008. I knew that it was going to be my last time staying in the old cabin in Northern Michigan. A cabin built in the ’30s out of 14″ pure Michigan White Pine. Our cabin was only supposed to be used as a hunting cabin (not winterized) but family and friends ended up visiting the old thing hundreds of times over the course of 80 years.
Knowing that this was my last visit to the original cabin in northern michigan…this just kind of came out
There’s something to be said for this 300 square ft piece of space. For 23 years now I’ve been traveling up to the northern woods and I hope to travel up here for at least 23 more.
At the moment I’m writing to you in the cabin with my family and my good friend Billy. You’d think after nearly a week of spending most of our time in and around this little slice of heaven we’d be at odds with one another. However this isn’t the case at all. We’ve immersed ourselves in conversation and cheer. Have had amazing fish at the Pub in Charlevoix. Ate at Bob’s (which I remind you is THE sunny spot for shady people.) No, these woods and lakes up here are something special and like Hemingway of yesteryear, I cherish every second I spend here. Traveling is something I enjoy, I look forward to. It is, simply put, a passion of mine. But driving up 75, those 500 miles…those 500 quick miles, sends a shiver of excitement down my spine. For once we turn off of exit 310, head over to Indian River, pass along the shores of Burt Lake and travel down Banwell Road…I’m there.
I’m Up North. My favorite spot in the world. A place that means so much to me, my family and friends that have been lucky enough to spend time here.
Not long from now I’ll head down to the fire with my parents and Billy to gaze upon the stars and Milky Way; a sight uncommon to the Cincinnati Suburbs.
What will become of this nearly sacred, dare I say Holy 300 square ft? Sadly, it might not live to see another summer. Next year you see, we’ll have a brand new cottage, with multiple bedrooms, showers, lofts, screened in porch, wireless Internet, TV and even LEVEL GROUND! What a thought! A level surface. No ‘trap doors’ where a seasoned vet of the Up North Experience knows to step over. No sir! This will be the site of a “New” North. Unbeknown to me and also bittersweet in a way.
The cottage and what the word represents isn’t luxury or sophistication. In all honest it’s a step above camping! It’ always been so. The plates are from the 60’s, the silverware even older, stove from the 40’s and not long ago there was a coal burning furnace from God knows when!
I like being able to peer outside from the confines of the cabin. Peer outside through the logs. Those old logs that have been neglected for decades. Those logs that have seen such awful winters and wet springs only to hold up for ‘One more year’ to a son that seems not to appreciate her, but deeply does.
There is such a connection to this place! Traveling to the Northern Woods means returning home. My home isn’t in Cincinnati, that home was sold as I left to study in Oxford. No, my home for the past 5 years has been here; in this 300 square foot palace. The kitchen table might not be straight. Th floor might give way the next time you step on it. The toilet might not flush. Upon arrival the cabin might not even be standing… but that’s Up North. Any other way, any other experience wouldn’t mean as much.
Every year when I leave here it feels like I’m leaving my center…my true North. Leaving the one only true place I absolutely love unconditionally. It is a sad thing. No more fires for a year, no more lake, no more sailing. These experiences must wait another year.
Michigan. Up North. The Lake. These are words that mean a great deal to me and if I had the opportunity to decide just where I want to spend my last waking moments on this Earth…it’s the Cottage.
People ask me what it is about Michigan that I’m drawn to. Why I am so attached to Michigan. I’ve never been able to answer this question and maybe I never will. The only way I can respond is by just saying, in the most matter of fact manner is, “It’s just Michigan.”
The Natives believed that the entire state of Michigan was the most sacred piece of land one could ever set foot upon.
I agree wholeheartedly.