While growing up in northwest Ohio, I never thought much about Michigan. If pressed, I knew it was home to Detroit, Greenfield Village, and Michigan State. My knowledge of Michigan expanded over time as I was introduced to the University of Michigan’s wonderful research library and Ann Arbor’s bookstores. But it wasn’t until I started visiting friends in Kalamazoo and Petoskey that I realized why so many people have, over the years, summered in the Wolverine state.
This is the third summer we’ve gone to the Barn Theatre, in Augusta, which is Michigan’s oldest summer stock theater company. This year we joined friends for a production of “Big, the Musical,” then stayed for the after show in the Shed. The young actors and actresses who put on these performances are passionate about theater, even though it means they must do everything, from staffing the parking lot to dipping the ice cream. Their energy is infectious, and we loved our time there.
On Saturday morning, outdoor Kalamazoo beckoned us with it’s fresh air and lush green grass and trees. What a great place to walk and ride. And, while in nearby Richland, my friend Yolande arranged for me to have a tour of the public library, which has its roots in the formation of a Ladies Library Association in 1880. Our guide’s enthusiasm matched the library’s obvious vitality and the woodwork was beautiful.
Thunderstorms and high winds kept us inside for the remainder of the day, but we had no problem occupying ourselves with spirited games of ping pong and music making.
From Kalamazoo we traveled on to Interlochen, home to the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp. Dorothy Kunkel, our band conductor when we are in Florida, spends her summers nearby, so she met us for a tour of the Camp and an evening concert. Dorothy has a long history at Interlochen, first arriving there from Nebraska in the early 1950s. I believe she’s sitting in the second row back, second person from the right (with a big smile on her face).
Dorothy spent many years conducting there and at the Blue Lake Music Camp, and it was a treat to see the camp, with its practice huts, lesson cottages, and lakeside views through her eyes. She’s still wearing the same broad smile!
The evening concert of the World Youth Orchestra was delightful. The words stenciled on the wall behind the musicians remind us that music is indeed a powerful and beautiful language, one that plays an important role in our world.
We had beautiful weather for our next stop, Crooked Lake, a little north of Petoskey. It was fun spending time on the lake with our friend Margie, and learning about the area’s history.
And of course, we made time for knitting and making music with our friend Nancy.
We enjoyed playing an impromptu concert for our friend Margie’s Mom, who has spent many summers on the lake. We loved it when she sang along to songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “You are My Sunshine.”
To top off our visit, we attended a lecture at the historic Bay View Association given by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, author of What the Eyes Don’t See. This crusading pediatrician shed a lot of light on the the Flint water crisis and the importance of caring about the quality of our drinking water.
Michigan has a lot to offer, but I would be remiss if I failed to mention the wonderful yarn shops I visited along the way, Knitology (Traverse City), the Dutch Oven Yarn Shop (Alanson), and as we neared home, a brief stop at Broad Ripple Knits in Indianapolis. The fun thing about the Dutch Oven Yarn Shop is it’s proximity to a bakery–a knitter can browse to her heart’s content while friends enjoy coffee and pastry. Of course making these stops means that I have more projects to complete, so I’d better stop writing and pick up my needles!