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Class syllabus: (it’s pretty short)
Make slow the new fast
Get up-close and personal with the out-of-doors
I got in trouble, once, with the Captain of the ferry line to Washington Island, by casually saying to him, “There’s a whole lot of nothing up there.” He was a little, frowny perplexed. Now, to me, that was a compliment to the island! While there really is so much to see and do, I find that it also serves as a great place to do nothing and just relax into the beautiful surroundings.
Fun Activity on the Island: Pedal from the eclectic Art and Nature Center to Little Lake on a low rise. Sunlight dapples through tree leaves. Enjoy the sensation of flying along past genteel forest vistas. Keep an eye peeled for yellow, Lady Slipper orchids with their curly brown tendrils. Imagine pitching a tent in there, leaving the rain fly off and gazing up at swaying branches. Stop off at People’s Park for a bit of canoodling on a bench, to the accompaniment of crashing waves far below. Admire the ancient Catalpa tree in the turnaround at Jacobsen Museum. It makes bridal bouquet blossoms in late spring and giant, oval leaves and long, brown pods in the summer. Slip through the wooden gate and rest quietly on the lake dock amidst swooping dragonflies as they zip and zoom around you, awesome aerial acrobats in search of tasty morsels. Metallic blues and greens. They won’t bite. If you’re too warm on the return pedal, continue on to Schoolhouse Beach, just around the corner, and, before you have time to think, splash immediately into the frosty, turquoise water. Lay down afterwards, refreshed, on smooth, hot rocks, adjusting your hips to find a comfortable placement.
How do I know? I’ve done it, many times.
Once, a Dad and his little sons, all lined up in the shade at the edge of the beach, sat and watched me, betting to see if I’d get in the water, or not. I did. Always do. Can’t not. I don’t earn brownie points, academy awards, or recognition (except from those kids) for these feats. But, somehow, they, except for the mind-blowing birth and raising of my own children, fill my soul like nothing else.
I read about a woman in South America, who spends half of each day sitting around, gazing at clouds, joking with her family and neighbors. If she doesn’t do this, she gets grumpy. She married a man from the United States. He doesn’t exactly understand the way she lives. I understand perfectly.
For more ideas on how to spend your time on Washington Island visit http://www.washingtonisland.com/
Next NON-guilty pleasure: Whitefish Dunes State Park Beach Day. I arrive about 3 pm as the heat of the day is at its zenith and some tourists have ended theirs. Beach blanket on the hot sand, me on that, soaking up the warmth. I read my book, for maybe a few pages, then I nod off, dozing to the happy, summertime chatter around me. Yawn, stretch legs, digging toes down into cool sand, sitting up, reaching up to stretch some more. Eat a sweet strawberry, some Ritter chocolate bar. Leftover pizza I made over a campfire last night. Smile at the youngster diligently pouring water into a hole in the sand. (See, the kid is smart enough to know how to NOT accomplish anything!) Another page of the book. Then, the time is ripe and it’s now or never, before that sun slips away and I lose my gumption. Up and at’em, I skip over to the water and steadily move in, squealing in pleasure as the cold water reaches my shins, hips, belly and beyond. Whirling around, I hit the water with my hand and make it dance, turn my back to the rolling waves as they soak my body. 1, 2, 3 and I’m in, giving a war whoop. Floating, rising and falling with the waves. Satiated, I emerge, unsteady as the waves catch at me. Repeat laying on hot sand again. For a few minutes. Body relaxed, I jump up and treat myself to a lingering, slow hike, kicking at the edge of the water. Jumping on it up and down with both feet. Looking closely at curvy sand lines, gazing at endless horizon, leaving the chatter and hopeful gulls behind.
Completely obligatory-wouldn’t go a summer without it: Thimbleberrying. This I rank as a high priority in my days of doing nothing. I was extremely gratified, once, to see a young man, in my own tradition, of biking down Clark’s Lake Road, stopping every now and again, to pluck a Thimbleberry and pop it in his mouth. Even more gratifying was watching my grown children and their EAGER, uncomplaining PARTNERS, unbelievable, silent, completely engrossed in combing the bushes for thimbleberries. These are regale, bright red, squat berries, barely hanging onto their perches, falling into your palm as you reach into among soft, furry, equally bright green leaves bigger than your hands. Sometimes, you can climb into a thimbleberry bush and search for berries as it envelops you. I hope the homeowners who built their new mansion on Glidden Dr. understand fully the treasure they have outside their doors. If you are especially strong, you will hold back enough berries to take home to top vanilla ice cream (salivating are ya?) (thimbles don’t keep well; eat them up, freeze or make jam on the same day as they are picked) or to turn into the easiest and most heavenly jam ever created: 1 cup of sugar to 1 cup of berries, simmer a bit and you’re done.
But, heaven is not some far-away place up in the sky, it’s here, right now, in Door County. Ready to make the grade?
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