How Our Landscapes Define Us–Shorelines

December Ore Dock, photo copyright Kim Nixon

Landscape ‘ is never simply a natural space, a feature of the natural environment.[E]very landscape is the place where we establish our own human organization of space and time’

–John B. Jackson, Discovering the Vernacular Landscape

I grew up as a lakeshore girl on the beaches of the Leelanau Peninsula, past Northport, down a private road, miles from children my own age. Solitary, I roamed the dunes and old logging trails for hours only returning home when my tummy grumbled. Petoskey stones and beach glass filled my pockets and  grasses whispered stories, my imagination ran wild.

Fast as the wind my anger crashed like white caps on sand bars and boulders. I was a force to be reckoned with. I dove off dunes, reckless, arms flailing for balance in the air, my feet thumped solid and hard. I knew “due north” instinctively and I could feel a weather front shift.

I was everything Michigan, tanned and untamed until Fall when we would return downstate to suburbia. I never quite fit in there. Neat rows of homes with uniform lawns. Street lights and porch lights so oddly defined angular shapes. I prefered the night sky on a dark beach with it’s deep blues and blacks, sand cold beneath my barefeet. Water defined the shore but it was ever changing.

Shorelines call me like a line of poetry. I’m tugged by waves. This is a new peninsula. I have aged and finding definitions is a terrible feat best left undone. The water color is harder as is the skyline on Superior and with it I reflect with deeper contrasts. Light and Edge fight with Dark and Mist. I constantly feel on the verge of what must come next, never grasping, never knowing.



About kimnixon

Upper Peninsula Michigan Artist and Writer

Posted on December 8, 2008, in Nature Writing, Spiritual, Verge and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. This is a lovely photo. I love how you captured the feeling of the cold sea. I love shorelines as well. Living in Kansas though, I get to see very little of them. I really enjoyed your memoir. Your writing is so eloquent, reflective and insightful. I can see a you making a book with photos and memoirs. I would buy it :)


  2. Yeah! Soemone would buy my book. Now I have to get busy. Seriously, I was giddy as I read your comment.

    The Sea in the photo is Lake Superior. I live about 3-4 city blocks away from the shore. This image is about a 1.5 round trip walk from my home and nearby is Mattson Lower Harbor Park.

    I am truly blessed to be living here.

    I was very jealous of your photos, very warm, tropical. I kept saying Mike we have to go do this. I am starting a travel fund after Christmas.

  3. Well written.

    Have you ever heard the song “Shoreline” by (Daisy) May Erlewine?

    It’s in her music player on that link and I am 99.9% sure you will love it.

  4. Hi Farlane, Yes I own Mother Moon and the song is one of my favorites.

  5. BTW Daisy is playing with Seth in Marquette on December 19, 2008 at The Messiah Luthern Church, info 906-345 9223.

    This is part of “A Clean Water Conert” benefit for the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.


  6. I love your writing!

    I had a UP childhood too but we had kids all around us in our Harvey neighborhood by Van Epps place on US 41. Snow forts in the winter, playing soldier in the summer, civil engineers redirecting thawing winters in the spring and jumping into piles of raked leaves in the fall.

  1. Pingback: Flow into 2009 « The Dailies

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: