As we round out the year's end, in my home, we are also rounding out a four year tour in Saint Ignace, Michigan and a six year life in the United States Coast Guard. We have exactly 2 weeks left in this town, and in this life. I have often found myself complaining about the places I have lived more than enjoying and embracing them. I thought it fitting then, instead of reiterating all that I do not love about this place, instead writing about all that I do love, and will miss.
In the fall the trees are world class. There has never been a more beautiful fall anywhere I have ever been. The forest is too thick to see more than five feet into, and the trees are so many different species, the forest becomes a rainbow of fall colors. Some trees look like they are on fire with the color of red/orange/pink they turn. I will miss those fire trees. When you drive into Traverse City all the apple and orchard trees pass and pass and pass and all are ripe for the picking; the smell of cherries is everywhere, and the hills roll with abandon and seem to go on forever, just like the forests. Fall has been lovely here.
This summer, was a summer to never forget. It was the first year when our children were old enough to truly enjoy the beach. As we knew this was going to be our last summer here, we never passed an opportunity to go. The water was cold at first, and towards the end of July warmed so that even the children waded out to their necks (with supervision), and we would all take floaties into the water and ride the gentle waves. We never feared sharks or jellies, or anything at all. The water was so clear the lake bottom glistened with sunlight, and danced with the little fish that came close to the shore. We went so often to the beach our car was filled with sand all summer. It found its way into the car door compartments and into the under part of each car seat so that even after two rinses sand still clung. I am sure some remains. We never took our beach gear from the car, and we all smelled of sunscreen for a full two months. We visited the beach in Traverse, and I spent hours scouting the clear waters for the state stone at Charlevoix. I came home with three.
We have loved many. People have come and gone, but how it has been our great honor to watch families grow. We have witnessed babies learn to sit up, and crawl, walk and talk back. Babies have grown into toddlers, into what cannot be denied as children, children into the first signs of adulthood. We have learned the value of friendship, an experience we often overlooked in the shadow of family. We have lived tightly wound within each other’s lives, clinging to the family we made, when we were without the family we were given. I learned family can be anyone you choose, and it is love that makes them, with enough love you will make a family out of anyone, and that is just what we have done. But now I am talking of the military in general, and perhaps I also need to speak in a positive way for that experience, for it too, often receives more negative than positive. But I digress.
Speaking of family, there is one individual I must mention. Perhaps she will stumble onto this blog when she mozies on over to her neglected Gmail account, and read about how much she meant to me, which of course she already knows. I met Katrina Elder in June of 2008. Her children were about 7, 10, and 4 months. I remember the very moment I met her. For some reason I was in her house, with another friend, while she was not there, I imagine the other friend was watching Katrina's children and had invited me over to meet the new boat wife and her family. Little did I know these people would become part of the glue that held my life together; each and every one of them. Katrina returned from where ever it was she had been and went into her kitchen. I followed her, anxious to make a new friend. She was reserved, and polite with a hint of a southern accent. She didn't say much, but I won her over as I enthusiastically helped her to unpack her newly delivered household goods. We unpacked all day, and began a friendship. She has been comfort, understanding, woman time, and woman power. She became very not soft spoken, but one of the most outspoken, and genuine people I have ever known. I cry in my car thinking about reading books together, rushing to be first in line at Twilight premieres, drawing single lines and guessing straight away the Cranium answer, that she knows when I ask for a beer I have absolutely no intention of drinking it, but will cook with it, that my son cries for "tina" when he is in trouble at home, that she calls him boyfriend, and likes my children when she rarely likes anyone's children, stumbling home after karaokeing for hours, and cooking cooking cooking. She has been the best friend I have had in all the years since I graduated high school. She was my first grown-up woman friend. Of everything, I will miss my Trina.
I am sure I can name numerous things I loved about his place, and this life, but I will end with that which has been the dearest to me.