Just returned from a weekend in the upper peninsula of Michigan. It's an area that will always be sacred in my heart, for many reasons.
I spent a year in the UP when I was a young woman. Here's what I remember. Winter came early and it came hard. It never stopped snowing in winter, and summer was unofficially over on August 30th. Spring was mud and slush. Summer didn't last nearly long enough. Usually the snow fell before all the leaves did.
So, imagine my surprise when I saw the colors had just begun to change on Lake Superior, the temperature was a balmy 77 degrees, and it didn't cool off much once the sun went down. I stood in Lake Superior for a good ten minutes; an unheard of thing if there isn't a stiff wind blowing all the warmed surface water into shore. There was. Lake Superior is cold. It is so cold it doesn't give up its dead. Not on Sunday, September 16, 2012.
One thing I always miss about the upper peninsula, or even just the woods as opposed to an urban setting, is the wildlife. When I was 20, I saw a mountain lion cross the road in front of me on Highway 51 between Mercer and Hurley. My Michigan friends envied me and told me it was a once in a lifetime experience. Twenty years later, I saw another mountain lion crossing the road in almost the identical spot.
This trip, I had at least one witness to the cougar sighting; happened just outside of Phillips. So that's three once in a lifetime experiences I've had and I am so grateful.
We also saw, in order of appearance, deer (try not seeing one in northern Wisconsin or the UP), a bear and her cub, a painted turtle crossing the road and a couple of eagles fishing on our little lake.
I think the animals are trying to tell me they're in trouble. We're all in trouble. I don't know what the winter will bring, but I do know that if it's balmy in September in Michigan, it's delightful but troubling. I hope we all make it through another winter season, especially the wild animals.