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To A Child, Love is Spelled: T-I-M-E


A majestic sunrise over beautiful Burt Lake

Deep in the throes of a beautiful Up North summer -- probably one of the most consistently warmer ones we've had in recent memory -- we're making special time to enjoy what life has to offer us here.  Taking advantage of this awesome weather, Shannon and our boys have been staying at her family's 80+ year old Burt Lake cabin up in Indian River -- for the past six weeks!  While I'm only able to drive up from Traverse City for the weekends, I'm reminded again of how fleeting the time is: summer is flying by, and our boys are growing up quickly. I can even see the subtle changes in them from one week to the next.  Knowing of the precious little time we have to spend with them (only 18 summers together, half of which are already gone), I want to make the most of every opportunity to make some Up North memories, like some we recently made this past weekend. 


Our faithful dog, Sunny...who just woke up
 Shannon was already awake before 6am, while I arose shortly thereafter to put on a pot of coffee in the kitchen of the weathered old cabin as we prepared to greet another spectacular sunrise over Burt Lake.  Whether it was the aroma of the fresh brewed coffee that made him stir, or the early morning sunlight that was starting to fall across his gentle, sleeping face, Hunter (our youngest) woke up.  Ethan was still fast asleep.  Our little dog, Sunny, was barely stirring as she spied us moving about.

Hunter squinted and looked outside, then looked at me, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.  "Dad; can we go fishing?"  It was 6:10am.  "Sure, son; I'd love to...I'll get the poles. Hey, I'm making some coffee; would you like some?"  "Yes please!", he said, with all the proper manners of a good little nine year old.  He loves fresh brewed coffee, especially when it's made at the cabin.

We gathered our poles and bait, and our coffee, found Shannon, then made our way down the few steps to the boat and headed out for a couple of hours of unplanned adventure. 


Our favorite fishing boat,
Grandpa's 19' Lund
 As it turned out, we only got two nibbles.  While we didn't catch any fish that morning, we did make some enduring memories.  Loons were calling somewhere out in the distance as a low fog crept over the north end of the lake.  A few clouds were hanging low over the water, some appearing to have silver linings around them against the early morning sun.  It was a wonderful time to enjoy each other's company on a sleepy Up North lake that even itself didn't seem quite awake yet.


Hunter, with the glow
of the morning sunrise
all over his face
 A pastoral scene, it made me think of a wonderful story written by acclaimed author and motivational speaker, Mac Anderson, the essence of which he captures in his latest book that serves to remind us all to make the most of the time we have with our families, especially with our children.  We can't think of a better way to spend that time than in the quiet solitude of a place we know and love called, 'Up North'.  Here's an excerpt below from Mac's book, in his own words: "To A Child, Love is Spelled: T-I-M-E":

"In the faint light of the attic, an old man, tall and stooped, bent his great frame and made his way to a stack of boxes that sat near one of the little half-windows.

Brushing aside a wisp of cobwebs, he tilted the top box toward the light and began to carefully lift out one old photograph album after another.

Eyes once bright but now dim searched longingly for the source that had drawn him here.
It began with the fond recollection of the love of his life, long gone, and somewhere in these albums was a photo of her he hoped to rediscover. Silent as a mouse, he patiently opened the long buried treasures and soon was lost in a sea of memories. Although his world had not stopped spinning when his wife left it, the past was more alive in his heart than his present aloneness.

Setting aside one of the dusty albums, he pulled from the box what appeared to be a journal from his grown son's childhood. He could not recall ever having seen it before, or that his son had ever kept a journal. Why did Elizabeth always save the children's old junk? he wondered, shaking his white head.

Opening the yellowed pages, he glanced over a short reading, and his lips curved in an unconscious smile. Even his eyes brightened as he read the words that spoke clear and sweet to his soul. It was the voice of the little boy who had grown up far too fast in this very house, and whose voice had grown fainter and fainter over the years. In the utter silence of the attic, the words of a guileless six-year-old worked their magic and carried the old man back to a time almost totally forgotten.

Entry after entry stirred a sentimental hunger in his heart like the longing a gardener feels in the winter for the fragrance of spring flowers. But it was accompanied by the painful memory that his son's simple recollections of those days were far different from his own. But how different?

Reminded that he had kept a daily journal of his business activities over the years, he closed his son's journal and turned to leave, having forgotten the cherished photo that originally triggered his search. Hunched over to keep from bumping his head on the rafters, the old man stepped to the wooden stairway and made his descent, then headed down a carpeted stairway that led to the den.

Opening a glass cabinet door, he reached in and pulled out an old business journal. Turning, he sat down at his desk and placed the two journals beside each other. His was leather-bound and engraved neatly with his name in gold, while his son's was tattered and the name "Jimmy" had been nearly scuffed from its surface. He ran a long skinny finger over the letters, as though he could restore what had been worn away with time and use.

As he opened his journal, the old man's eyes fell upon an inscription that stood out because it was so brief in comparison to other days. In his own neat handwriting were these words:
Wasted the whole day fishing with Jimmy. Didn't catch a thing.
With a deep sigh and a shaking hand, he took Jimmy's journal and found the boy's entry for the same day, June 4. Large scrawling letters, pressed deeply into the paper, read:
Went fishing with my Dad. Best day of my life."
Fishing buddies: Dad and Hunter

The last words of the little boy's journal entry captures it all; we should make the most of the time that we have to make a positive difference in the lives of those we love.  Before summer gets away from you, why not take some time to visit Up North with someone you love -- and who loves you.  Stay as long as you can; don't leave until you must.  And, don't forget to bring along some coffee; your mate, or even a cute little boy or girl may just want to share a cup with you as you sit together in an old fishing boat on a secluded lake, or maybe even by a quiet, flickering campfire under a star-lit sky...Up North.