Looking out into Lake Superior and possibly Picnic Island in Marquette

Looking out into Lake Superior and possibly Picnic Island in Marquette

It’s so much fun to travel to another town, another woods, another river, another beach, and view the similarities and differences which arise.  Marquette is a city between 70-80 miles from our house and it’s always an intriguing place to visit, to explore, to find interesting photo-taking opportunities.

In between sipping coffee at the Dead River Coffee Shop, buying organic groceries at the Food Co-op, lunching on a delicious Mexican vegetarian Border Bowl at the Border Grill, lingering at the library and wandering along the lakeshore and at Presque Isle…I pondered about Simple Living.

Years ago we moved to these northwoods, attempting to go back to nature.  To live closer to the land, a less crazy lifestyle, a place where we could raise our kids in the woods and make granola and camp along Lake Superior.  We could grow organic vegetables, chop wood to heat our house (which we eventually built by ourselves) and general live the Simple but Good Life.

Things would be easy.  Things would be simple.  Things would be at an easier pace than the crazy folk running around in circles in the city.  (oops, sorry to all the cityfolk…especially our children…who moved from the woods to some of the biggest cities in this US of A.  I didn’t mean to call you crazy.)

Peering down the shore toward the power plant

Peering down the shore toward the power plant

All these decades later I’m wondering…did it happen?  Did our dreams turn out?  Is this really the “simple” uncomplicated life?

I think the answer is (as always)  Yes and No.

It’s been a great life.  It took me many years to adjust to living so far in the backwoods, away from the towns and cities that also intrigue me.  The woods and the flora and fauna have grown steadily on me over the years until it’s a sort of love affair.  From the tiniest sprouting greenery to the hot summer splashing on the beach to the autumn leaves bright red and orange on the maple trees to the deep winter snows…the land and its people have deepened in my heart until it’s almost impossible to imagine NOT living here.

The break wall on Presque Isle (very dangerous to walk during high waves)

The break wall on Presque Isle (very dangerous to walk during high waves)

Yet it’s not necessarily the “simple” lifestyle we dreamed about when we first moved here.  The world has a tendency to follow us wherever we go.  You can live in the middle of the woods and be busy, crazed, rushed, addicted, nervous, worried, saddened or lonely.  I think no matter where we find ourselves, it’s our state of mind that matters more than our locale. 

You can live in the midst of a huge city and experience simplicity, presence, quietness and peace.  Or you can find it in the forest or along rushing rivers or sitting atop a rock overlooking Lake Superior.

Driftwood and rocks against rushing lake waves

Driftwood and rocks against rushing lake waves

The sign leading into Presque Isle Park shows a peaceful scene of an Ojibway (Anishnabe) native canoeing peacefully.  Was his life really as peaceful and simple as the sign alludes?  I think it depends so much on the individuals ability to walk simply through the turbulence of the times.  Of course, perhaps some cultures support that more than others…

Welcome to Presque Isle

Welcome to Presque Isle

Of course no trip to the big city is complete without a visit to a coffee shop.  At least one.  Maybe two.  I unexpectedly met a friend of my daughter’s outside the Dead River Coffee Shop and got a hug.  He’s headed for Thailand in a couple months.  Wonder if that will be a simple life?   🙂

Dead River Coffee Shop  (they roast some goooood coffee there!)

Dead River Coffee Shop (they roast some goooood coffee there!)

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