Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Up North

I read something recently that said we are so busy taking pictures, we aren't making memories. The article explained that memories form more fully if you actually live in the moment, rather than try to capture it on your camera (or your phone, in my case). I thought about that a lot a few weeks ago when I was on vacation in northern Minnesota.

We stayed at Golden Eagle Lodge on the Gunflint Trail. We've been there before, and it was just as lovely this time. It was cloudy and cold, but so beautiful. The colors on the trees were beginning to turn, the air was crisp and fresh. My in-laws were with us as well, and we spent a lot of time reading, playing cards, hiking and canoeing. I tried to really be there, to be present in these small moments with my family.

The first morning , Clare was in a great hurry to go down to the lake. I walked with her, wearing a hat and gloves and counting the minutes until I could go back to the warm cabin. Her excitement was contagious, though, and soon we were standing on the dock looking at the trees surrounding the lake. Clare was talking about everything she saw. Then, I noticed a loon swimming about 200 yards way. I crouched down next to Clare, whispered in her ear, and pointed. When the loon dove underwater, she was full of questions. What kind of fish does the loon eat? Where did it go? Suddenly, it surfaced, a mere five feet from our dock. "There it is!" Clare whisper-yelled. It was just really cool.

It was cloudy most of the weekend, but when the sun broke through on Sunday afternoon I grabbed my coat and Christopher and hiked down to the lake. The sun was hitting the trees at the perfect angle, making them somehow sharp and soft at the same time. The late evening light shows the beautiful north woods at their best. The lake was calm, the water reflecting the sun and the trees. I looked down the lake at the docks with the boats anchored to them, casting their shadows on the water. It was quiet, except for Christopher chatting and laughing in my arms. I kissed his cold nose and turned around on the dock, taking in as much of the lake as I could see.

That night, Ben's parents came to our cabin and ordered Ben and I down to the lake. We stood on the dock, staring up at thousands of stars. The Milky Way was crystal clear. Ben saw a shooting star. We tried to pick out constellations. Nothing compares to the night sky when there is no light pollution. It makes me feel so small, but also so awed. It is almost spiritual.

I don't have pictures of any of these moments, but I want to remember them. Writing things down helps me remember things in a way pictures can't. I suppose in the act of writing, I may also be altering the memory in some way. I just know that sometimes feeling present in the moment means putting away the camera.

Oh all right. I took some pictures too.

Clare at the top of Honeymoon Bluff.

Ready for the woods.

Clare on her canoe trip into the BWCA with Ben and my in-laws.

Fascinated by our fox friend. She helpfully informed Christopher not to be scared, because we were inside the cabin. 
My little man.

At Gooseberry Falls on our way home. Clare was thrilled by the "big lake." Christopher was not.

1 comment:

  1. You painted such a powerful visual, Em, I wondered if you had a notebook with you to remember the details!! It sounds like a fabulous weekend away. And I'm glad you still took a FEW shots ... that one of Clare looking at the fox (and vice versa!) is awesome!