The Old Mission Historical pot-luck ended early the other night, and left me with a few hours of daylight left in the heart of the old village. The Legion hall is across the street from the place where the missionaries landed nearly two hundred years earlier. I walked down to the shore, where the water laid flat and still like glass and only the sound of a small craft gurgling out some ways from shore could be heard.
I tried to squint at the opposing shoreline, where the whites of houses peaked over the tops of young trees, to see what it must have been like so long ago to stand in the same place and see nothing but the tall, dark greenery of trees breaking up the space between lake and sky. A strange calm fell over me and for a moment, time stood completely still.
Walking back to the car, I decided to follow Swaney around the bay to see what side-road I might venture down and found a small dirt path leading into the woods where old houses, boarded for the season, stood watch over a silent sea of hovering gnats and floating ferns. It was not a county road, nor was it private, so I turned down this path and followed it for some time. It was a long, narrow road, lined with ancient trees; shadowy hemlocks and leaning white pines. I wanted to walk through those woods, but thought better with nightfall coming so soon.
At the end of the road was a small turn around circling a tree, so I stopped the car and got out to see what was beyond the rough foliage of the wooded bluff. I stood on the very lip of the bluff and saw the great height, the soaring, uninterrupted blue of the bay and traced it all the way to Elk Rapids, my hometown only a few miles East. I caught my breath and squatted beside a stump suspended precariously by a few stubborn roots. Beneath, arched in perfect splendor, was a circle of large stones. A mystery discovered and yet, the primitive nature of the natural environment is what awed me most.
How many years, I had sat on the opposite shoreline, looking out at this very place; curious, contemplative. And now, I sat at the pinnacle, amid the sensation I knew even less, and revelling a little in it.