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Long Live Leelanau

Rain or Shine - Leelanau Cherry Trees are stunning, no matter what the weather! In this case...rain.
Not long ago, a state-wide news story caught our attention with a " very important discovery": the one county among all 83 of them in Michigan that consistently ranked as the highest in terms of long life expectancy among its residents was...Leelanau County.  That was especially good news for those of us who live here and call Leelanau home.  With its abundance of forested woods, and clean, clear waters, the news was not surprising.  It also came as no surprise that our own Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was voted as the most beautiful lakeshore in the entire country last year.

There may be many reasons behind the 'why' of our county earning such a distinction: a relatively low crime rate, a much lower population per square mile rate than other counties, excellent educational opportunities, and a slower lifestyle.  The latter being perhaps the single most influential among all the factors combined.

As the rest of the world runs along at seemingly break-neck speeds, we know that life here simply does not have to be that way.  It's not quite like the streets all roll up after 9-o'clock at night, but it's close.  Not unlike Camelot, a rhythmic gentle rain does sometimes fall at night, to be followed by brilliant sunshine the following day.  For those with an affinity for an active night-life, Traverse City isn't far away for that.  But for the rest of us, quiet serenity is something to be sought after, and prized.

Recently, my wife and I took advantage of a Friday evening date night at the Bluebird Restuarant in Leland.  The 14-or-so miles there were uneventful enough, encountering maybe four cars between our home and the restaurant at only 7:30pm; we saw only two other cars on the way home only a couple of hours later.  It's not that this part of the county is deserted; living rooms of homes along the way were illuminated with soft lights, some sporting fireplaces that were lit with cheery fires from whose chimneys the smoke was slowly curling.  It was the incense of the evening that further added to the warmth and ambiance of the already still night air.

By day, Leelanau is home to scores of family farms, quaint little shops, and other small businesses that help make life here happen.  It's also a place where folks help each other as best they can, without being nosy or intrusive; there is great respect for privacy, yet an understanding that there are times when we not only need to help others, but know that it's OK to accept from them, as well. 

Recently, we were surprised by a very generous friend (Steve) from our church who knew we were getting low on firewood.  He had a lot of it that he needed to clear off his property across the bay (thanks to the big storm we had back in March that brought down so many trees), so was kind enough to deliver close to six full cords worth of logs over four different trips so we wouldn't go without.  That was a huge gift for us, one that will continue to give us warmth for the next two or three winters.  (It's also one that's keeping our boys and me busy splitting it, while teaching them the value of hard, honest work - work they'll certainly appreciate next winter as they sit with their hot chocolate in front of a warm fire on our old field stone fireplace).

´╗┐Leelanau's many farmers are also famous for this kind of generosity, helping each other with the planting and harvesting of their crops, and with the sale of their fresh produce to area restaurants and markets.  It's just how people get along up here that makes for such an honorable way of life, while contributing so markedly to the quality of that life we have all come to love and long for.

While you're more than welcome to come visit 'Up North' anytime the spirit moves you, you don't have to live here to enjoy the benefits of our more laid back lifestyle; turning off the TV and taking more time to just be with family, and enjoying meals and good conversation together around your own table will be a great place to start.

A new card for 2012 - Inside: "Delight in the Beauty that surrounds you."
But if it will help you think about 'Up North' a little more often as you endeavor to slow down the pace of your life a little, we've got some neat ideas to help you: beautiful, full color prints to grace a quiet place in home or office, or our specialty greeting cards on heavy stock that are even suitable for framing.  When you visit Leelanau County, you'll find them at Two Fish Gallery in Leland, The Front Porch of Suttons Bay, and Korner Gem in lower Leelanau County's Elmwood Township.  Other great stores/businesses include Woodland Creek of Traverse City, Friske's Farm Market & Orchards of Charlevoix, Black White & More of Cheboygan, and Blooming Ideas, and The Top Shoppe of Indian River, and White Birch Lodge in Elk Rapids. We're currently looking at adding some other stores by summer, in addition to showcasing our work at the Petoskey Stone Festival at Barnes Park Campground in Eastport (on Lake Michigan) Saturday of Memorial Weekend, as well as two "Art Walk" events coming up on June 22 in Suttons Bay, and June 29 in Leland.

If you're not able to visit, we'd be happy to bring our love of 'Up North' directly to you in print or cards.  Peruse the selection of some of our offerings via the links at the top of this blog site.  We'd also welcome your ideas, especially if you have a favorite store near you who may be interested in carrying our 'Up North' line; just drop us a line with their name.  Thanks for visiting; here's hoping you have a blessed 'Up North' spring.

P.S.  Looking for more "Up North" updates? Join us on our Facebook page where Shannon shares daily news and notes and even offers perodic giveaways:

(C) Up North Captured Moments -
Photography by Shannon Haldaman