Hands without wear on them

Wrote them

And those same hands, 

Now torn and lined with age, open them.

My  heart skips a beat thinking about the past.   It has been almost 35 years.

What was written and preserved?

…Through love letters written by hands without wear on them?

Throughout the course of our marriage, the births of our children, our successes and disappointments, an old box of love letters has sat by, quietly, watching and waiting for the right time; a time when life slows down, memories become sweeter, and the wish to be young and so in love again surges and swells.

The letters were neatly stacked and rubber banded in chronological order by a college football player who attended school in Big Rapids, Michigan.   (He has been known to over achieve.)  They were written by his girl, me,  an 18 year old who had just graduated high school in Elmhurst, Illinois and was holding down two jobs to support herself, make a car payment, and get a head start on life.

 We met at Long Chevrolet, a car dealership I was working at.  He was a college intern and I was the customer relations specialist who routinely received cat calls when walking through the shop. We dated from 1979 until June, 1981, when we married.

Our generation may be the last lovers

to write long-hand letters of longing,

hope and dreams.

 As an act of bravery, I decided to open this neglected, old box of letters that John saved when our love affair was new and everything glistened.  I’ve never opened it in all these years.  There is a part of me that is curious and hoping I wrote of my family life with my parents, of the times and new inventions, and included the names of friends I have forgotten.  There is a part of me that is terrified of being disappointed or that I won’t recognize my true self in them.  Silly, isn’t it?



Fall Migration

June 2011 7241


Each summer of nearly all of my summers, I’ve spent time fishing and camping in Crystal Falls, Michigan.   As a child, my folks made the six hour ride from Chicago with my brother and I packed in the back on top of the luggage and squeezed between the camping gear.   We escaped the city sun and heat for two weeks of heaven each July.   Woody and I swam in a remote Yooper paradise, diving off the pontoon dock into orange stained water and “going under” to keep the horseflies from biting us.  When we weren’t swimming, we were spending our quarters in the tavern or gathering driftwood for the fire.  Each night we would wade out under the stars to shine for crawdads.  (I held the flashlight and made Woody catch them and pile them in a bucket where they would be our captives until the next morning when our mother made us let them all go.)

Our grandparents would camp out with us on The Island without electricity or running water for a week at a time.   We were professionals.  Our skin turned brown.  Our shins got scrapped up and our ankles were all bitten up by mosquitoes.  The pads of our feet toughened up on the colored rocks. There was no television, telephones, or going back; video games and microwave ovens were not invented yet.  Texting and cell phones would take decades to appear (and work up there).  Instead, we fished all day for perch and walleye and fried them up by a toasty fire at night.  Always too soon it would be time to pack up, load up, and make the 350 mile trek back home.

These days I feel a migratory pull on my heartstrings to spend time in this place I love the most; the place that helped raise me.   Now I see geese flying in the sky with beating chests and I understand them and know why.  This place holds my childhood memories and much  happiness.  As I went on to marry (a man from Michigan!!), we brought our own children up to Crystal Falls and continued camping and fishing, watching another generation discover our secret spots and figure out the hard way where the drop off is.  The kids and cousins got to go fishing with Grandpa and Grandma.  Now our trek is 460 miles up I-75, across the Mackinac Bridge, to beautiful U.S. 2, along the picture perfect Lake Michigan shoreline and I don’t mind the extra miles.  It is all eye candy.

This month is the first time I’ve ever gone back up in the fall.

My mom and my cousin, Sandy (like the beach), met me up there and we spent more time leaf peeping than reeling in fish.  The woods were on fire with colors so bright they made us squint.  The air was crisp and the bugs were gone.  The sun was out.  The night sky was littered with sprinkles and twinkles of stars.  Sandy and I (we sharpies) took a canoe trip in 35 mph winds down the river and almost drowned.  Almost.  Ok, not really, but it was tough sledding the whole way; another memory maker for sure.  My mom and I played dominoes and sat on The Point catching the last rays of hot sun for the season.    After the first bottle, Sandy and I gave up wine glasses and drank from our own bottles by the fire.  Real classy.  The big question every night was, “Is it big enough?”

The deer were loading up on winter wheat so we were able to see and photograph a lot of them.  Bow season opened up  and every gas station offered bulk carrots and cabbage.   $$Five Bucks$$    Wild turkeys were everywhere and the only good thing I can say about them is that they were all hens so we didn’t have to listen to those awful gobblers.

Our next trip is already planned for August, 2014.   Until then, I’ll pass the days looking at all the pictures we’ve taken through the years and try to stop myself from checking to see what the highs and lows are for the day up there and watching the Crystal Falls radar.








Woke Up This Morning With a Blue Moon in My Eye












First September Saturday



Nesting time.  Shorter Days.  Summer’s End.

Birds on the Wing.  Apple Cider.  Flannel Shirts.

Corn Stalks.  Cammoflage.  Planting Bulbs.

Flu Shots.  Candlesticks.  Morning Dew.

Football.  Red Crab apples.  Berries.

Rakes.  Book Bags & Homework.

Seeing trees twinge with color.

Caramel Apples.  Long Pants.  Goose Hunting.

Cool Nights.  Orange Pumpkins.  Full Moon.

Starting to think about holidays ahead.

Smoke Detector Batteries.  Cinnamon Sticks.  Flannel Sheets.

Boots.  Hot Chocolate. Baking. Mums. School Buses.

The Circle of Life.


Love ~ a la mode

She spent a quiet, sinking sun hour in her kitchen slicing strawberries and braiding lattice.  She slipped her engagement ring into the pocket of her cornflower blue apron.  Her slender finger was bare; his token of love was protected from all this dough-rolling domesticity.  What goes into the perfect pie for your betrothed, your special guy?  Along with sifted flour and sugar bits, perhaps a midsummer’s day dream floats by loaded with snippets of hope and happiness as life together unfolds.  She incorporates these goodnesses into the dough, rocking a pin back and forth, back and forth.

Full of anticipation, and wanting to surprise, he jumps into the car and winds down the lane to a market in the old part of town for a pint of vanilla bean ice cream.

Two perfect pairs.

With a pie spade, she painstakingly cuts and then hands him the first slice.  A pin drops.

Their pupils dilate to let it all in.  Sugar and spice and everything nice fills the air.  This pie holds its shape nicely and it exudes a romantic red glow under its flaky crust;  his fork tinks on the plate.

Side by side they sit as she watches him explore his first bite.  He tries but can’t hold back a broad smile.  With sweet satisfaction, she lays his heart bare by stating, rather than asking, “You just fell in love with me all over again.”


Megladon Started It.


Every morning our farmhand, Bryce, wakes me up with the roosters by ringing my doorbell non-stop until I come down and let him in.   Once delivered from my nice, warm blankets, we sit down and set up a farming plan for the day based upon the wins and losses of the day before.  A win could be getting down to the grain elevator without being stopped by the weigh master.  A loss could be that one of the pups was ripped off the cultipacker because a live oak wouldn’t budge.  We figure all sorts of things out over his Mountain Dew and my bottled water.

This morning he came in all fired up about Megladon, the “up to 70 feet long” shark that no one has ever videotaped or seen.  Apparently, Megladon’s main food source is humpback whales.  He has been known to bite 50 foot ships in half, mistaking them for humpback whales.  His shadow has been caught on tape, but that’s it.   Megladon’s tooth is 17″ tall.   Every time I would call him out on his “facts” he would get more fired up, proving his point by saying that only 5% of the ocean has ever been explored and that means it could be 95% real.   It escalated.  I rolled my eyes.  He called for backup.

Adam hustled right over.  He was in it for a slab of bacon, fried eggs, and homemade toast –and seriously turned on Bryce, by drowning the existence of his Megladon, saying emphatically that at least DogMan is real. 

“It’s fully canine, walks on its hind legs, uses its arms to carry chunks of roadkill or deer carcasess. They have pointed ears on top of their heads. They have big fangs. They have bushy tails. They walk — most tellingly — digitgrade, or on their toe pads, as all canines do, and that’s something that a human in a fur suit really can’t duplicate.”

“There is even a song about The DogMan of Michigan.  What, no shark song…not even one?”

Adam’s parting shot was, “I bet you never even heard of the chalupa-cabra.”  Bryce just glared at him.   He continued,  “It’s this thing with fangs that is Spanish for goat-sucker and they are like werewolves that kill goats.”

These are two grown-ass men and it was then that I realized I was flipping eggs for two STEPBROTHERS.  All we were missing was the fancy sauce.


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