Free Write Fling, October 10, 2007
Sunrise Landing and Gull Island are my earliest memories of summer. I must of have been around 3 or 4 years old when my parents first started making the migration from the Detroit suburbs to Northern Michigan. They had purchased a bit of land that had no structure on it and over the coming years we would slowly build a cottage.
Sunrise Landing is a motel that still exists today. Back in the late ‘60s we would rent a kitchenette. Mom and I would head to the beach. Gull Island was a tiny isle in the mass expanse of blue that was Grand Traverse Bay, the isle was named for the seagulls that screeched and squawked and had taken over the island. My dad called the gulls beach rats and felt them ugly eyesores. The motel is located North of Traverse City and 3 miles South of Northport on M-22.
That small piece of land that my parents purchased was a ½ acre on a private road North of Northport, Michigan, the last road on the left before you reach the lighthouse. Shortly before the turn, there was a gray barn falling down and an old spooky house and then I would see rows of pines and the line of mailboxes. We would turn left down Cathead Bay Drive, pass the gravel pit on the left and go down the steep hill, past the keep out signs that varied in size and strength of warning over the years. Going down the steep grade we would leave apple trees behind and enter into the woodland, dark and cool and eventually emerge in the dunes. My parents sandy lot was about in the middle of the cove.
After the cool of the woods the sun was bright and hot. As I struggled not to walk right out of my flip flops the sand would burn my feet on the walk from the gravel road to the water’s edge. It was all pretty barren in my early years, only a scattering of homes far away at the tip of our cove. The sparkling blue and sound of waves would accompany every summer of my life until my late teens. Offshore breezes and the smooth as glass calm to crashing rollers and whitecaps. I learned the language of the Great Lake, Michigan.
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