A Lesson in Focus

Great Blue Heron, Thumb Lake

Every day at camp, this handsome great blue heron hunted for fish and frogs in the marshy shallows of the lake.

No matter how many screaming kids were around and no matter how many ridiculous games they were playing in the water within a few yards of this bird, he calmly searched for meals.

He did not allow the plans of other beings to affect his schedule.

He did not concern himself with the people who were watching him and commenting on him.

He thought only of his goal and applied himself to achieving that goal, distractions be damned.

Is this speaking to you?

It’s speaking to me.

Camp Lake Louise 2016

The weather was hot and perfect for waterfront activities.

Moon over Spirit Mountain (not actually a mountain) at Camp Lake Louise, Boyne Falls, MI

The kids were engaged, generally nice to each other, and most had pretty good attitudes.

The campfires were fun (I was the “fire guy” for the week, building the fire each night).

The evenings were sweet and silent and when the sun was fully down the sky was riddled with stars.

This truly is one of my favorite places on earth.

Here’s the video CLL staff put together for our week. You can spot me in a teal hoodie at the campfire near the 0:38 mark. I’m pointing at something, but I have no idea what.

The video from a couple years back was even better because the tech guy on staff had a drone (which was super creepy and borderline sentient) and there was a lot more use of the GoPro camera:

Either way, I’m sure you can see why I love spending time at Lake Louise.

This, That, and the Other During a Busy Week

I can hardly believe my good fortune, but I am headed back Up North this weekend for a few more days at Lake Louise, this time with just the boy in tow. He’s old enough for Kinder Camp (K-2), which is just for a weekend with at least one parent or grandparent staying on. I’ve never been to this particular program before, but I hear there are nice afternoon nap times (this is for me — the boy hasn’t napped in four years) and earlier bedtimes than what has become standard at the junior high camp (I think I heard 8:30 rather than 11:00). I do believe I shall have time in the evenings to finish a book I’m reading and who knows what activities we’ll be doing during the day.

On a very happy note, I’ll be going up eight pounds lighter than I was last time and I’m hoping to continue losing while I’m there. For someone who was pleasantly surprised to have no to-do list just a month or so ago, I’ve suddenly turned into someone with many little goals — weight loss, house purging & sprucing, novel reading, writing, etc. — and a few new responsibilities at work that I’m still getting my mind around. It’s been a stressful week, so I’m happy to be leaving it all behind for one last little bit.

On the purging front, Zach and I went through a bookshelf last night and actually found things we could part with. I’m hoping for further sifting tonight with a couple other shelves, then possibly moving the emptied shelves up a narrow and twisting set of stairs to the upstairs landing. Our potential realtor advised us to open up a doorway to the bathroom we never use, which we had blocked with bookshelves in the office, in order to stage the house correctly when the time comes. And there’s no time like the present to get some stuff out of the office, which is wall-to-wall furniture right now. I’ve already cleaned out a cupboard for the boy’s overflow of art supplies and gotten rid of a small shelving unit. What I need now (desperately) are some big empty Rubbermaid bins for extra fabric and yarn of mine. And then I think, maybe I should just get rid of the lot of it! Or at least a lot more of it.

You ever watch shows like Love It or List It and think to yourself, yes, there have been many real improvements in this house, but the biggest one is that there’s not so much CRAP ALL OVER THE PLACE! It seems like it is rare that a house is truly too small — we all just have too much STUFF. Sometimes I just want someone to back a garbage truck up to the front door so I can commence tossing. But . . . it’s not all my stuff. And I live with two of the sweetest little pack rats there are. So, storage solutions is the name of the game.

Time to get on it!

Summer in Michigan Means One Thing to Me: Up North

Over the past week my husband, Zach, and I have been engaged in the blessed process of planning summer travel around the state: picking dates, securing care for our pets, coordinating travel with family, reserving a room here…

Bay View Inn

We’re thrilled to be heading back up to Mackinac Island after a few years’ absence and excited to introduce our son to its magical qualities for the first time. Zach and I will spend two nights there alone, writing while overlooking the Straits of Mackinaw and riding bikes around the island. Then my in-laws will come up with our son and we all get to pal around, ride bikes, bring the boy to Fort Mackinac, ride in horse-drawn carriages, and eat ice cream. I can already feel the wind off the water.

Mackinac Island Ride

But before we get to Mackinac Island, we’ll be spending another week at a very special place to our family, Camp Lake Louise

Lake Louise

And in late summer will be the Second Annual Sisters’ Hiking Trip. Last year we hiked Pictured Rocks…

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

You can read about our amazing trip here, here, here, and here. Not totally sure just where we’re going this year. But I’m scheming.

This is the time of year my heart aches for woods and water and sky, when thinking about driving north–far north–elicits a physical reaction of butterflies in my stomach and even tears welling in my eyes. The silence of the night sky filled with stars. The sound of wind through trees. The cold splash of clear water. The clip-clip-clip of horses’ hooves. The heat of the sun upon bare skin. The scratchy sound of sand upon worn pine floors. Just the thought of these stirs deep longing in my soul.

I’m hopelessly in love with Michigan.

Readying Ourselves for Bliss

Each summer we head up to our favorite place in the world for some rest, relaxation, and religion. Camp Lake Louise (formerly Lake Louise Baptist Camp) is really on Thumb Lake, but our camp and the Methodists across the lake all call it Lake Louise and apparently have for generations. For our purposes, we’ll call it Lake Louise.

Lake Louise is a 150-foot deep spring fed kettle lake, probably formed by retreating glaciers, not too far from Boyne Falls, Michigan, off C-48. Since there’s little run-off and it is not fed by rivers or streams, the water is always crystal clear. Much of the land surrounding the lake is owned by the Methodist church and used as a camp and retreat center, some is owned by the Baptists, there’s a small public access beach, and the rest is residential and forms the Lake Louise Christian Community.

But beyond the technicalities is the true spirit of this place. Most of us who go up year after year–many of whom have gone up since they were children, with parents who went when they were children, and so on back to 1930–find that no place on earth has so tight a hold on our hearts as Camp Lake Louise. The interiors of the little brown cabins that have sat upon their stone foundations since the 1930s are completely tattooed with names and dates of the thousands of people who have slept, worked, played, and prayed there. And round about March or April I start thinking about Lake Louise.

Not being a Baptist (do Lutherans have summer camps?), I was first introduced to this place as a teenager. My then boyfriend, now husband, had gone most of his life, as a camper, a cabin leader, a bass player in his old band, and would eventually go as a pastor. But I went at the behest of one Pat Ankney, a women who pulled all the levers and switches behind the scenes back in my little hometown of Essexville, Michigan. This imposing woman (and I mean that in appearance and in personality) came to the Kmart I was working in early in the summer of 1998 and told me she had somewhere she needed me to be that summer. And when Miss Pat tells you where to go, you go.

As you can imagine, I was not upset to trade the flourescent lights and mind-numbingly boring days of the discount retail world for water, woods, sunshine, and more stars than I’d ever seen. So I worked–hard–for $25 a day doing dishes, cleaning the girls’ bathhouse, and keeping an eye on all the kids on the waterfront. Getting a tan is a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Since that time, many momentous events have happened at Camp Lake Louise. My husband proposed to me on the beach in the middle of the night. I was baptized as an adult in the clear waters of the lake. Our son laughed for the first time in our room in the Administration Building when he was just six weeks old. A year later he took his first steps beside the outdoor basketball court. Dear friends are made there.

And on Saturday we will be packed in the Explorer on our way to parts northward, dropping the dog off at my sister’s house north of Elk Rapids and then heading east to our favorite place on earth.