The radio stations in the UP are time capsules of my youth. This summer I unexpectedly heard the following bands on my favorite Upper Peninsula radio station out of Newberry.
The Cutting Crew
The Bellamy Brothers
Michael Martin Murphy
Starland Vocal Band
Three Dog Night
The Hues Corporation
Neil Sedaka. . .well, you get the idea. I loved hearing songs from these artists but then there was that moment--- that “in your face reminder” that the station bringing me these great songs is an oldies station.
During summer months, the cabin in the Upper Peninsula is a place that never really gets dark at night. In early to mid July, the sunsets are usually just after 9:00 and twilight lasts for at least another two hours. When it finally starts to get “dark” it is 1AM.
In the summer God keeps the Milky Way on high and it seems to split Muskallonge Lake in half, as falling stars and satellites whiz by us overhead. By5 AM you will begin to see faint rays of the sun, racing to the rise.
Birds chirp, the eagle hunts and you become so aware of your senses, it’s often hard to believe.
At the cabin you quickly learned that if you want to eat, you tell the cook the way they prepare a meal is just the way you like it. You also had to chip in with chores.
We read books by the light from kerosene lamps. We played spoons and board games and learned how to carefully separate those interlocking round, green coils that kept the mosquitoes away without breaking them.
That’s the way we did it back then and that’s the way we did it this summer. So, I ask this of myself all the time. Why are some of us obsessed with dreaming of youth?
The answer? Simpler times I suppose. But have we ever thought that what was “simple” for us back then was not so simple for our parents?
When I was a teen I remember going into my Dad’s office in the basement of our house the night before we were to leave for our UP vacation. He had all sorts of numbers written down in columns for; gas, food and emergencies. They all added up to quite a tidy sum. That’s just one of the many great things about my Dad. He gave us these vacations knowing we’d relish them.
I was too young to remember, but one year we ran out of gas about twenty miles short of Mackinac City around 6AM. All of us kids were sleeping because we often got a cozy spot and slept in the car the night before so we could leave in the middle of the night. Lucky for us, my Dad spotted a farm that butted up to I-75 and he walked to the house and asked the farmer for enough gas to get us to Mackinac City. The farmer obliged and my Dad repaid him with a couple of fresh baked pies on our return trip.
Some call it the cabin.
Some call it the lake.
Some call the UP, the YOOP or simply; “up north” and they are all correct.
Think about it; the same waves from our youth, still live in the lake. They tumble and lap the shoreline looking for us but disappear when the water becomes dead calm and flat like glass.
And each year, when it feels like we are connecting with the spirit and innocence of our youth; The truth is, we probably are.