Go home that is.
My husband JC and I took two weeks off and actually had
a life. There is a lot to tell about our trip, and I'll
hit bits and pieces over a while, but I did want to dispel
an old myth. You can go back. And you know what? It
The first week of our vacation was spent in Quebec, three
days fishing with our friend Chris Chin, who worked his butt
off trying to find cooperative fish for us on the Ste.
Marguerite. Beautiful places, memorable waters and the fun
of making new friends.
We spent a day with Faruk Ekich (Ekich Bobbins) who shanghaied
two of his English-speaking fishing buddies to make up a proper
fishing party. We fished two different pieces of the saltwater
Fjord, the latter being right in front of Faruk's summer cottage.
Charlie and Lucien were charming and great to be around. It
was a fine time in a beautiful place.
I'll give more details on the Quebec trip later, but wanted
this time to concentrate on how it felt to literally 'go home.'
I grew up spending summers with my grandparents in Rogers City,
Michigan. Rogers was a company town in that most of the men
worked for Calcite, the largest limestone quarry in the world.
Those who didn't work at the quarry itself worked on the boats,
large steamships which carried the limestone to the various steel
mills located around the great lakes. My dad was a pilot on one
of the boats.
I had not been back for over thirty-five years. My grandparents
are buried there, their house is still there, and my favorite
great aunt and uncle had a lovely home which is still there too.
All passed many years ago. It was a trip my heart wanted to make.
Thursday morning, after a nice breakfast at Gates Au Sable Lodge,
we drove the 80 miles to Rogers City in our rental car. Sure
things have changed over the years, but most everything I remembered
was still there. Grandma's house has been added on to, the cemetery
has perpetual care so the plots are well tended and neat. The
bandstand I've written about has been moved to another park, but
it still lives! Aunt Martha's house looked like it had just been
created from a Victorian book. Lovely.
The new marina is outstanding, although I learned from the North
Woods Call the salmon fishery has declined due to the invasion
of 160 invasive species which have come in on ships via the St.
Laurence Seaway. More on that another time too.
Standing on the beach near the fence closing off the Calcite
property I stuck a toe in the water and commented to JC the
water was warmer than I remembered. But then we live on the
salt which rarely gets above 52 degrees here.
We were able to find the place where the Grange had their annual
stream-side summer picnic. It had been a country park, and now
is a state park. Lots of folks around, kids swimming in the pool
below the falls, (which has been artificially enhanced to make the
pool deeper), and while I didn't look for fish, I expect they are
still there in quiet pockets. The Ocqueoc is now a salmon stream
as well, but probably not this far upstream. Even the old green
hand pump is still there, but a plug in the spout signals it no
longer functions. Water quality likely not up to today's regulations,
was dandy coming through limestone 50 years ago though.
We had a dinner appointment, and left to get back in time. It
was enough to reassure me that my roots are still there, and have
survived very well. The economy of the area has declined with
the loss of American steel mills. The trickle down dealing a
blow to a rather remote little town. But even with that, the
houses are painted, yards kept, well tended with pride. Old
traditions do survive.
I got a little teary at the cemetery, I had not been able to
attend my grandmother's funeral, and she had been a very special
person in my life. Even that is good, if we can't feel or are afraid to
express our sadness or joy we've lost a great deal.
Then there was the big one.
JC and I were married 33 years ago at Keystone Landing on the
mainstream of the Au Sable. On our Anniversary last Saturday,
we sat on the steps next to the river, held hands and listened
to the river's serenade. Amazing how little the river has
changed over the years. It was a lovely, warm, quiet evening.
We could hear the birds and an occasional rise. Tiny trout
rocketed totally out of the water in their enthusiasm.
Upstream, just above an old stump, a good rise appeared.
We could have fished, but chose not to. We didn't need to.
And besides the fish were having a lovely evening too, it
wouldn't be right to spoil it for them. Lots of wonderful
We all have ghosts in our past. Sometimes we can hear and
speak to them. It was good to go home. ~ DLB
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