Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on July 28, 2013

We decided to take yesterday afternoon off after many days of intensive preparations for moving Matrix Software to Florida. Margaret and I, with David and Fei Cochrane (of Cosmic Patterns software) jumped in the car and headed to the Leelanau peninsula in northern Michigan.

Michigan is a peninsula surrounded by two of the great lakes, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Now Michiganders always say that the state of Michigan looks like your left hand, palm-side down. Up at the very tip of what would be your little finger on the map of Michigan is the Leelanau Peninsula, a peninsula within a peninsula.

The Leelanau is a magic piece of land warmed and protected by the Great Lake surrounding it. And it is a micro climate. There are many vineyards and all kinds of fruit orchards, and of course lakes and sand dunes. And the Leelanau is not all that large, maybe 30 miles wide by no more than 40 miles high, so you can drive all over it in not much time.

Well we did not have much time and that because we did not even get started until after Noon. It is something like a two-hour drive to put us way up in the Leelanau. We were headed for the town of Glen Arbor and the great Sleeping Bear sand dunes.

The weather report said no rain, but we were no sooner on the highway than it was lightly raining. And when it was not raining, it was misting. It seems the weather reports are less and less accurate lately and their predictions not too good. Obviously, they change their predictions to fit the facts, so they are hardly predictions.

Be that as it may, there we were, on the road and with rain. We decided not to turn back, but to push on to Glen Arbor to climb the massive sand dunes. And it was cool. Here we are at the end of July, and there is already a chill in the air.

Anyway, on we went and finally were parked and putting on our jackets ready to hike the dunes. There was a little bit of light rain, mist, or whatever it was, and the going was slow. We were marching up hill and the sand gave resistance to every step. And we had to step carefully because there was poison ivy on either side of the narrow trail. It seemed not to be the best day for this.

But I soon realized that the coolness of the day was a blessing. If it were 90 degrees and full sunshine, we would be looking for cover. Instead, it was in the high 50s, overcast, a bit misty, just right for the body temperatures we were starting to generate.

We hiked until we were high enough on the dunes to see the Great Lake (Michigan) filling the horizon and the two large islands, North and South Manitou before us. It was beautiful. Michigan beaches are so*me of the loveliest in the world. And the grass on the dunes was gently moving in the wind. It was lovely.

We eventually went back to the car and drove to various other parts of the dunes system where there were overlooks. One of them was hundreds of feet abovet Lake Michigan, sand almost straight down to the water where tiny figures of humans were actually out in the water. I must have been cold!

And climbing up and down that steep hill of sand were little ant-like figures, folks heading down to the distant shore. It must have been real tough to get back up. It was enough for me just to look down on them and hang on to the rail where I stood. My vertigo pushes me right out into space and it is a long fall down – but a memorable moment.

Later, we drove to Traverse City Michigan, a city where things are happening now as I remember they did back in Ann Arbor in the 1960s. It is a cool place. We headed straight for the Oryana Natural Foods Coop, where I had some warm soup with pieces of bread.

Then it was across town to the Grand Traverse Commons, an incredible development project where dozens of historic large buildings, what used to be the former state mental-hospital grounds (hundreds of acres) are now turning into a small city within a city.

Everywhere these old buildings are being renovated, filled with small shops and stores, while right next door others stand empty, with windows missing, and all of that. If I were a young person I might have to move here and join in building the commons into, as I said, a city within a city, where everything you could imagine was right there. The Commons is like a mall gone to heaven. There are bakeries and restaurants and coffee shops, combined with condos and low-income housing, schools, and dozens of alternative businesses thriving or at least existing. It is a magic place indeed, for me a preview of what might be coming, a new version of what we call a city – the future of the city.

And last, but not least, we went to a micro-brewery called the Filling Station, where they serve great flatbread pizzas and salads. However, the main attraction was my daughter May who was performing there last evening.

May mostly plays at festivals and larger venues, usually with her husband Seth Bernard, and often with a whole band. But once or twice a year she does a solo show, just herself with guitar and piano in a small, but intimate venue. This was that.

And she was playing outside, and it was getting colder, so I was worried about that and bundled up. However, they had six-foot-tall outdoor heaters that threw their heat our way and it was all fine.

We got to sit right up front and you could hear all the nuances of May's voice. As my friend David Cochrane said after hearing her, words cannot describe the experience. May can transport an audience beyond themselves, out of whatever situation they are currently embedded in, and onto a space where special thoughts are possible, thoughts that I can't order up for myself, but ones that I very much need to experience every once in a while.

May kind of reshuffles the cards of my internal deck and offers me a new deal. It was wonderful. She never fails to raise the hair on the back of my neck, and I find myself fighting off tears. That ain't all bad, as they say. And after we hugged May goodbye hit the road for the longish drive back, getting home way past my bedtime.

It was a good day.