Dennis and I are silent as we drive along until . . . SQUIRREL!
Me: “Stop the car! Now!”
Him: “What? What’s wrong?”
Me: “Cloud mountains. Must. Take. Picture.”
Later at Hartwick Pines, I snap pictures of every sign and every display. A little research for my WIP. I linger in the bunkhouse and imagine my great-great-grandfather’s decor over and on his bunk that undoubtedly included his hammered dulcimer wrapped in burlap at the foot. I stop to write down things like Sweet Dark Burly Tobacco, Woman’s Heart Tobacco, Dr. Sages Catarrah Remedy, and Bradley-Metcalf (Makers of Good Shoes Since 1843.) I snap more pictures.
Me: “Does my taking so many pictures bug you?”
Him: “No. Not really. Well, sometimes, it gets old.”
Old? Did he just call me OLD?
We walk the Old-Growth Trail, taking us back to a time when “White Pine Was King” and note the “last remnants of Michigan’s virgin white pine forest” and gaze upon the “Monarch’s” remains. The Monarch is the “most famous tree” in the park.
“Unfortunately, the Monarch lost its live crown in a wind storm in 1992 and died four years later. Before the storm, the Monarch stood 155 feet tall with a circumference of 12 feet. It was about 325 years old when it died. We don’t know when the rest of the Monarch will come tumbling down. It could be today, next week or years from now.”
We contemplate the fallen crown on the ground and raise our eyes to the remaining trunk.
The Monarch is/was old. And none of us know when we will come tumbling down, either. Even if we’re not “old.”
Later we stop in front of the house I grew up in. The one my dad built on to the front of our six-room motel. The “little house” is still there, too–four rooms and a screened porch–that housed five of us until my parents decided that I, as the oldest, needed my own personal space and moved me into one of the motel rooms.
We don’t ask to walk down to “our” lakefront, but we drive around to the other side of the horseshoe (Horseshoe Lake), and I remember memories from long ago. And there, still, are the lily pads I loved, topped with the yellow blooms that always held bugs. I used to pick bouquets from the boat.
I hung out on the lake and in the woods alone when I was a kid. I made “fern forts,” by stomping some ferns down flat leaving leafy walls, had little picnics. I take pictures of some of “my” ferns. They seemed a lot taller back then.
When I was young.
We’re “up north” this week to visit family and hang out at Alpenfest–the 46th year. I was the third queen in 1967. And yes, the family teases me about being an “old queen.” I prefer the term, “past queen.” My mom likes to say I’m the “queen who became a King.” When I meet people in town, I love being told I don’t look “that old.”
Speaking of old, those high-speed hand dryers scare me. I envision them stealing my skin’s elasticity leaving my hands looking like overstretched crepe paper that never returns to its original shape.
I leave you with a video of Dennis and me on longer trips. We may be old. But we can still have fun.
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Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King