What an experience!
First let me tell you that a few weeks ago we were on the phone, and Karen said, "Well, we don't work on paper girlfriend, but we sure have fun." Truer words were never spoken. We couldn't be more different in our religious and political beliefs and opinions. We talk a good bit about those things, but it is discussion. We don't expect to change each other, but instead try to help each other see the other side without fear or anger.
When I was a little girl, my friends ranged from Mennonite and River Brethren to Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist and everything in between. My first real best friend in HS was Jewish. By the age of 6 or 7 I was attending several different Vacation Bible Schools each summer with my friends, and knew the only way to the graham crackers and orange ade was by saying what the grown ups wanted to hear. Somehow my brothers sang in an Episcopal choir even though we were Methodists.
My point is that there was a time when different beliefs were normal, accepted, and people didn't let them cause rifts. REMEMBER??? Many mosses and fungi line the rocks and earth on Karen's mountain. I really wish there had been more time. Like that DAY of the trip that I missed because the stewardess didn't make it to work!
So that part of the visit was stimulating and fun - even if Karen kept telling my sister she was going to kidnap me, and Maryanne was ready to rescue me. In fact the ruse continued right up to the trip to drop me off, when Karen pretended to run out of gas. Ahahahaha... she had me going there.
To get to the Upper Peninsula, I left Detroit and flew into Marquette. Flying over that part of Michigan, it was clear that most of the land has water somewhere near the surface. Silver lines and streaks shone up at me and I wondered if there had been a lot of flooding. Many of the fields had some standing water, but as we went north, the appearance became just a little marshier. Karen later pointed out that the peninsula was in the middle of the Great Lakes.
The Marquette airport is about the size of the Lancaster airport. Maybe smaller. It's very nice with a tiny gift shop, a couple of soda machines, a very thorough security checkpoint (!!!) and lots of seating with great views. Wild Blueberries are everywhere you look, almost as prevalent as dandelions or plantain in my part of PA.
As soon as I got there, we zipped through to the soap class that Karen had set up. There were between 12 and 14 women there, and it was an active and animated group. So much easier to teach to people who are involved in what you're talking about!
I was dying to get into the woods, but as the class continued it became clear that it would be at least 9:30 before we got home. Tomorrow... Ah, but Karen tells me that it stays light until past 10! Can that really be? As a matter of fact, it can. I've managed to identify this plant as dwarf ginseng, but do not believe it has the same properties of the plant we'd like it to be. Need more research, but I think there is probably gingseng in those woods...
We go home and get our boots, the dogs, and Karen takes a firearm, telling me that at dusk the bears, gray wolves, and she rattled off some other dangerous animals that I had stopped hearing by that point, would be active and we needed to protect ourselves. The dogs were pretty noisy though, so that would help. The corgis - That's Cody standing, Griz is behind sweet baby Prissy, and old Pebbles leans on the cabinet wishing she were an only dog. They keep things pretty interesting around the Mallinger house.
We got to spend a good 45 minutes climbing around, and I got to find out that my foraging skills are all but useless in the U.P. It is very early and not much is actually blooming yet, but even so I was humbled. The light was terrible for photography, and we got home just as the sun went over the mountain. Below is a brief clip that is meant to let you hear the spring peepers, but you can also see that it is still somewhat light after 10 pm.
Tomorrow the real work begins!