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"The Right Place at the Right Time"

A "world famous" ice boulder in the forming stages.
They say that "timing is everything".  That's true, but I like to think that "experiencing" timing is important, too. Here's why. This past Saturday morning, I awoke to a phenomenal photo a friend had shared with me on my personal Facebook page.  The "Ice Boulders" photo and story below had "gone viral" and yet it had taken place "in our own backyard." (Be sure to click on the link to see more on this incredible story: "Ice Boulder photos in Michigan go viral")
Click on the link above for the complete story as seen on WZZM ABC 13 News
Photo by: Leda Olmstead, Good Harbor, MI

My adrenalin started pumping and my first inclination was to toss the family "to do" list for the day, drop everything and head straightway to "Good Harbor Bay" (the location of this incredible discovery), only a stones' throw from our front porch -- or a mere 25 miles as the crow flies.  Not bad for a story that was about to go global.  However, when it comes to priorities, one such project was looming over me like a Niagara Falls boulder...working on 2012 taxes for my two businesses.  My dear husband had already done his part for his business and our personal taxes, yet I had excuse'd my way out of working on mine to the 'nth degree of procrastination.  Today was my day.  So I shared the picture and story with the boys and Phil, which were greeted with "oohs and aahs," before decending the stairs to our lower level office to face reality...piles of neatly stacked receipts waiting for my perusal.

While crunching all the numbers, I couldn't get my mind off the "once-in-a-lifetime..right-place-at-the-right-time" photo of the frozen Good Harbor beach.  When Phil announced a day later that we were going on a much needed family outing, I heartily agreed;  endless hours of adding and subtracting had brought me to the edge of "grumpy," a place I don't like to be. Ironically, we make an annual winter trek to Peterson Park in Northport for a fun family afternoon of exploration, ending with a hot dog roast in the glow of the setting sun.  Today, however, we would set a course on a new adventure. 

As we made our way around the south end of Lake Leelanau, through the charming 'Up North' towns of Cedar and Maple City, I found myself hoping and praying that the thoughts roaming in my head would not come to fruition.  You see, by now the popular "Ice Boulders" story was over 48 hours old and gaining steam.  I was half afraid that by Sunday afternoon we would find cars lined up Bohemian Road back to M-22 with a shuttle bus waiting to take you to the now "famous site". Visions of booths with carny-barkers yelling, Get your t-shirts, get your teddy bears..., etc...with "I saw the Good Harbor Bay Ice Boulders" on them; satellite TV trucks from all over the world broadcasting in their own language this phenomenon to curious on-lookers back home who were booking their flights for their visit to "Leelanau County, MI"...wherever THAT is.

Instead, our arrival was surreal...a couple of cars along side a plowed back-country road, and a total of four people walking the now snow covered beach with only tiny round bumps poking their head out of the fresh fallen snow--tell tale signs of only days before of uncovered ice boulders.  Two days of harsh Lake Michigan winds and ten more inches of fresh snow (adding to 110" we'd already had this winter) morphed the once icy boulder bedecked landscape to softer scene of beauty.  So, do we mourn for what we "missed," or "rejoice" over a new sight, and a new experience?  It was our choice to make.  Thankfully, we chose the latter: making a new memory, one that will warm our hearts in the seasons of life ahead when we look back and say, "Remember back when we went to look for ice balls?"  I have to believe we were not alone in our quest as footprints of those who had come before us were evidence of perhaps other "photogs" who had hoped to capture this unique moment in time.

A new ice boulder forming, ready to wash up on shore.

Our now "new adventure" took us down the cold, desolate beach to the location of a memory made in warmer times only a summer ago.  The boys and I had experienced this with good friends while frolicking in the waters of a much less frigid Lake Michigan in that very spot -- Shalda Creek.  While the warmer sights and sounds were now only visions in our heads, the joys of sharing this new opportunity with Phil was just as warm (he couldn't be with us on last summer's outing).  As we walked along the shore which now featured ten foot high ice mantels and gentle ice flows washing up on shore, our time together was priceless.  I found my attitude adjusting from "poor me" to "blessed me".  And even more so when Hunter (10) gave me his now trademark, "'ve-gotta-see-this..." impish grin, only to discover he had found another nature-made heart stone on the sand of our journey.  As I snapped a photo, then placed the heart rock in my pocket, I breathed a prayer of thankfulness -- for our family, for this moment.

We went on to explore the shores of Shalda Creek with the boys walking across a frozen bridge -- me hoping it didn't break for fear of wet feet a mile away from the car -- a thought that adventurous little boys give little thought of when the call of exploration beckons (how I wish for that uninhibited spirit again sometimes).  After spending time throwing snow balls into the much swifter current of the creek, we made the trek back to the car.  The boys -- being boys -- ran ahead, then fell behind (much like puppies do when let off their leashes) while Phil and I pondered in conversation that, while yes, we were disappointed in not seeing those phenomenal "ice boulders" depicted in the picture, we were still able to rejoice in time spent together as a family on one of our favorite places on the planet, only a 30 minute drive from our home. How wonderful is that?!


Shalda Creek - Good Harbor Bay
Of course, getting back in the car was not the end of our journey. With stomachs growling, the boys and I convinced Phil to share yet another "new" family experience -- pizza in Maple City.  "Really?" Phil asked.  Our journey took us through the rolling hills of Leelanau County...again that feeling of "how blessed we are" was overwhelming. Quite unexpectedly, we noticed an unusual hue on the tips of all the trees on our left.  As Ethan said, "It looks like they're on fire!"  Indeed, the color went from a light pink and grew to almost a fiery red.  Looking to our right we discovered a huge ball of orange, red and yellow -- a magnificent Northern Michigan sunset was breaking through the dark grey clouds that only a moment ago I had mentioned they felt so close you could touch them.  Now we had quite a dilemma...we knew that the "picture" back on "Good Harbor Beach" would be stellar, and while we missed the "ice boulders" perhaps we could capture this "perfect timing" sunset?  However, we were now miles away from the beach.  We quickly made a right turn on the next closest road and started driving west before realizing we would never make it back to the lake in time, for now we would have to "capture the moment" with our hearts and turn around.

In doing so, it brought us to the delightful town of Maple City--a "one blinking light" jewel in the heart of the county.  With its welcoming red "Open" sign, "Pegtown Station" was aglow with the last rays from the sunset and beckoned us into its warm interior.  We were met with equally warm, down home service, with the strong suggestion that the "Meat Lover's Pizza" was mighty fine.  After working up quite an appetite on our three mile hike on a cold, snowy beach...I found myself chiming in with the rest of the boys that this sounded perfect...and it was.   

As we made our way home and walked in the door, we felt refreshed and renewed (even after a few-miles walk on a snowy beach). I found myself mulling over the choices we had that day.  Was I disappointed that we didn't see the "ice boulders" as depicted in Leda Olmstead's beautiful photo or for not capturing the inspiring God-painted sunset?  A clear "No" was my heart's reply.  In Ecclesiastes 3:1 it says, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." Today, we enjoyed the beauty of God's creation as a  family...indeed, we were in "the right place at the right time."

Story Update:  Wednesday, January 27, 2013
As Paul Harvery would say, "And now here's the rest of the story...." We're thinking we may have to make a return trip to Good Harbor Bay, only this time we'll take a "right" on the beach instead of "left" as it looks like we may have missed the batch of ice boulders that Leda Olmstead saw.  Certainly enjoyed this updated story from a local angle by Kate Fox of 7&4 News. Click on the link for more on this unique story:   Ice boulders roll onto shores of Lake Michigan"

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