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home : columnists and contributors : columnists and contributors September 15, 2014

8/15/2013 1:53:00 PM
This I Believe: Mark Flemming, I Believe in Emmet County
Mark Flemming
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Mark Flemming

I believe in Emmet County. From the bomb cratered shores of Waugashance point to the historic shores of Petoskey. Home is always in my heart. From the carpenters, masons, painters and sales clerks that strive for the four months of hectic work to the snow-makers, trail groomers and skiers that make this county great. Having lived in Indiana, Illinois, being a troll, trying to be a yooper and everything in between, I believe in this place I call home.

Living on the shores of Lake Michigan for a majority of my life, and several years on the shores of Superior, I have become addicted to this land. As I write, I sit in Good Hart looking at the sun setting over my one true love. As the waves roll in and the trees wave "good day" I regret nothing.

Being a surfer of the Great Lakes, I have experienced the best and the worst of these waters. Mostly the worst, as the waves are going off when most people are hunkered down in their homes under warm blankets next to the glow of a warm fire with the ones they love.

My family has moved on, stepping into their next big adventures in life, from my sister traveling the world to my mom moving on to the wild lands of the U.P. Friends come and go (and usually, come back again). Some are in Alaska; some in California; some in lands far, far away; we all stay connected, and still, we are like family, even if we only meet every several years for that glorious event we call Blissfest.

The Native Americans who came here before us were the smartest and surest of us all. They decided to call this area home. To the Jesuits who landed here 100-plus years ago to make their home before the rest of the settlers, we all moved and settled into this glorious shoreline.

Seeing the sun set over Beaver Island and the chain of lighthouses that travel to the north, I can't help but feel spoiled. Most everyone who lives here now has been elsewhere and comes back to this little piece of heaven on earth.

Spring brings trilliums and morels, summer brings resorters and days at Sturgeon Bay; fall brings folks for the color tour of M119 and times of reclusion; winter brings powder days on the hill and snowy landscapes that can't be matched.

Though I have fallen in love with the glacial shaped shores of Marquette over the last five years, I return back to Emmet County with joy every spring. As I wrap up my final semester at Northern Michigan University next fall, I wonder what's next. I long to return to my place of growth and emergence, but also wonder if I should venture elsewhere for a time. A hard choice to make while sitting here, waves lapping in and the golden horizon disappearing into the ever more saturated waters of Lake Michigan.

Growing up in town and on the shoulder of Lakeshore Drive, my father and I started a Christmas tradition of walking from our house-- moved from farmlands of Southern Illinois to the shores of our lady lake-- to the historic Native American Council Tree a mile up the road under the light of the moon. There we would revel in the history and culture that took place, unbeknownst to most, under that enormous conifer.

Each time my tires hit the sandy two tracks headed north of Harbor I know this is where I belong. Camera and my best friend Izzy the Aussie next to me, I feel most comfortable and stress-free. Forgetting the world for an hour or two, we slip north to Wycamp Lake and the dunes of Sturgeon bay, just to make sure they are still there, majestic as always.

As I sit here clicking at my keys with a fire in the place, sun settling below the horizon and branches waving in the wind, I can't help but feel my soul settling into these sandy shores and the sole of the lake I love so much. As Garrison Keillor would say in the Land of Lake Wobegon; 'Do good work, stay well, and keep in touch.' Much love to my Marquette family and all others finding their way through the world.

Related Links:
• This I Believe Essays

First Community Bank - Sept. 2014

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