On escaping to nature

Last weekend, a friend and I took the drive up to Alpena, Michigan to get away from medium-sized city life. Much as I love the city where I live, there's something so grounding about being in nature. Standing on the edge of an inland sea, nothing but water along the horizon line for as far as the eye can see -- no, it's not the same as standing on the edge of the ocean.

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That first night we drove north to Presque Isle in search of some fireworks I had found advertised on mostly word-of-mouth website michiganfireworks.com. It took many false starts with the GPS (which could not find a system much of the time) and a few differing accounts from locals at a bar called the Hideaway that was at least ten miles from any other sign of civilization (its name, I suppose, is apt) before we finally got up to Presque Isle State Harbor. I took the below photograph as we waited for the real show to start; the homeowners of the house on this point gave an unexpected pre-show as peachy hues still lit up the west. The reflection of the firelight on the water seemed to reach out nearly to where I sat on the beach like a beacon.

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We took a trip inland one evening to locate the secluded Bruski & Steven Twins sinkholes. Owned by a local conservancy group and open to the public, I'm still a little baffled I somehow read about them somewhere online while preparing for the trip. The sinkholes are very close together but far enough apart to each have their own dirt parking lot: we were the only visitors, and barely saw another vehicle within a five mile radius. I'd never seen a sinkhole before and it sounded intriguing. That it was.

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I tried taking photographs but the depth was impossible to portray, at least in the summertime when the sinks are verdant with trees and ferns the likes of which are not found anywhere else south of the northern reaches of Canada. From the ledge of the sinks you can see rocky ledges on the either side; gaping, cave-like orifices; and most striking to me, the tops of trees that start over a hundred feet below.

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An imperfect example, but you can see how the ground has fallen away from the birch -- and the greenery in the center appears to just be small plants, but it's comprised of treetops.

I think a wintertime trip would be very worth it.

My life has been stressful lately. Almost comically so. But two feet on the ground -- the sanctity of still water reflecting the sky -- the solid earth beneath -- breezes rushing through with a flighty hush -- and as suddenly, waves crashing and pliant limestone and the hairs standing on the back of your neck as you realize all has fallen silent. The most natural state is change. Maybe the only natural state. Remembering this could be a key to accepting change within my own life.