We live in downstate Michigan for most of the year. Still, at least one weekend a month we call Empire Village in Leelanau County our home. We've been making this monthly getaway "up north" for years.
Good friends of ours have a similar routine, traveling back and forth to Empire from Northville, Michigan.
Now that we're nearing retirement, and the kids are long gone, the talk often turns to becoming full-time Leelanauers. I've always thought that would be the life for me. My wife - not so much.
But our friends made me rethink when they suggested that being part-timers is what makes the trips up north so special. Maybe they're right.
It's true that every month I take what feels like a mini vacation to the enchanting landscape that is Leelanau, "the delight of life."* I hike the dunes, play in the lakes and breathe in the sweet, fresh air.
And it never gets old.
But maybe this land would lose its delight if I awoke every morning to the sound of the waves on Empire beach - not just on my treasured visits. Would I lament, a la B.B. King, that "the thrill is gone?"
I'm reminded of what C.S. Lewis wrote: "The thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there." But ... "the dying away of the first thrill will be compensated for by a quieter and more lasting kind of interest." ... I don't know.
But whether I'm a Leelanau part-timer or full-timer, one thing is certain:
The thrill is not gone. Not now. Hopefully not ever.
See You Up North,
*Possible Odjibwa Indian Translation
Visit a Leelanau Landmark: Joe's Friendly Tavern - where Empire's
elite meet to eat. And the food is just like Joe: honest and decent
American fare (burgers, salads, soups, etc.), served with a side of
friendly. Established in 1940 at the corner of Front and Lake Streets,