Hart Ford
Hart Ford

A day ‘Up North’

The Northern Part of the lower peninsula of Michigan is a unique place of sights, smells and experiences. Sandy beaches and clear lake water abound. Pristine trout streams traverse the woods and plains. Fishing is the main sport in the summer for outdoorsmen. The bluegills and bass are plentiful in the area lakes and can make a special meal when fried up in an iron skillet, like we did last night.

Yesterday, while helping my wife, Debbie, get ready to go kayaking on Lake St. Helen, we were over-whelmed by the pungent smells of fir trees overhead. It just made me want to bottle up that pine fragrance and take it home with me, as it smelled so good!

As she got into the kayak and cut the paddle into the cool water, I could hear a loon crying out across the lake. She sped off on the flat surface and was the only boat on the water at that time

The majestic white pine trees were standing tall and wide in the woods as we later drove down the Sandy road into the forest, which is mostly state land all around us. Also present were giant red pines, birch, oak, hickory nut and many varieties of trees that are all helping pump oxygen into our clean air environment of the Northland. Covering the ground and growing everywhere are prehistoric ferns that have been growing in these Sandy soils for centuries.

As we traveled back into the woods for an afternoon drive, we spotted several doe, their bright reddish-tan fur standing out in the brilliant green forest of grass, leaves and plants. The deer froze, their big eyes and ears watching and listening.  Yet, they stayed and stood their ground like a garden statue. Finally, they had enough of us, they walked quietly away.

The only negative thing I can mention are the biting black flies! A few did bite me when I was on the long dock fishing in the lake, and when walking the beach while watching Debby kayak into the lagoon. They were an irritant at that point.

But, when we were driving in the woods, I rolled my window down to get a clearer picture of the deer. That was a bad mistake. The electric window motor must have been the “black fly dinner bell!” The black flies began flying into the vehicle open window. They were literally swarming around the vehicle and some came into our van before I could get it quickly rolled up tight. 

Once the glass was secure, we could see probably over 100 aggressive flies bouncing off the glass trying to get at us! I told Debby, I hope our van does not break down as I would hate to have to walk back to the cabin. We might have been eaten alive.

We had a nice drive through the woods last night, despite the crazy fly incident. We ended up back on the pavement, where a left turn went to Roscommon and a right turn into St. Helen. We went on to our Artesia Beach cabin, where my family has been coming here since the 1940’s, to enjoy the Michigan outdoors. 

Safe and sound back at the knotty pine cabin made by my dad, we rested comfortably, listening to the backdrop of the rain as it touched the roof and dripped over the eaves. Dropping back to land into the sandy soil of the land we call, “Up North!”

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