I have to confess a small addiction. It developed, full on, the first time I drove the winding roads of Leelenau trying to find a resort on Glen Lake. I found the resort, eventually. I have no sense of direction whatsoever and in the days before car navigation systems, I was often quite literally lost. But in the process of finding the resort, I found the Traverse Bay area, the Leelenau Peninsula, Michigan’s little finger.
It is achingly lovely with its rolling hills, forests, and, almost as if it were sharing a secret with you as you crest a hill, a lake. This isn’t just any lake, of course. This is Lake Michigan, one of the largest bodies of fresh water on the planet. It is an ocean, really, without salt. The Michigan side of Lake Michigan is rimmed with mile upon mile of soft sandy beaches. Leelanau has dunes, and sugar sand beaches, and pounding surf.
But it also has cherry orchards. Leelenau is the Cherry Capital of the world. It is also full of vineyards. But right now the cherry trees are blooming.
Yesterday I drove up to Christmas Cove, so named because of the red and green rocks that tumble up onto the shore, boosted there by the relentless surf that churns them up from lake bed. And amongst the green and red stones, all glistening from the waves, are thousands of fossils. The most popular are petoskey stones, fossilized remains of coral that once populated the warm salt seas that covered Michigan. I love them. Each trip I tell myself that I will not collect any more petoskey stones, and each trip I come back with a plastic grocery bag full of them. This trip is no different.
The tourists haven’t arrived yet and the beaches are empty. It is still cold here. Three weeks ago six inches of snow covered the peninsula, and lingered. Some of the unique shops that cater to the tourist trade haven’t opened yet. But the lake is here. And the petoskey stones. And I’ll venture up to Christmas Cove one last time today, if the wind isn’t too strong and my resolve isn’t too weak.