Sometime in your life you are going to take a class, whether it be in high school, college or on-line, you will think it sounds so interesting, and you can't wait to get started in it. Then it starts and it isn't anything like you imagined or what you had planned to do with the course material. Instantly the wind goes out of your sails and you are dead in the water.
This happened to me in Kat Sloma's on-line class "A Sense of Place" that I took early last year. The course material is amazing, but I went into it with my own preconceived ideas of what I wanted to do with it. When those ideas didn't match up with the weekly lessons and homework assignments, I shut down. I would half-heartedly read the weekly lessons, have a brief thought about doing the assignment, and then slip the printed lesson sheets into shiny plastic page protectors and lock them into my plain black 3-ring binder. I would then slip the binder back onto the shelf where it came from and go about my normal everyday life.
A year and a few months later I am very thankful that I dutifully printed those lessons and slipped them into those shiny plastic page protectors. I have found my "Sense of Place" and I am ready to finally tackle the course material.
My "place" has been right under my nose, or in this case three hours north of me, for the past twenty years. The Leelanau Peninsula in northern Michigan. The peninsula is just a bit north west of Traverse City.
The first time we came to the peninsula our daughter was a teething nine month old. We were camping a bit south of the peninsula in our pop-up camper. We took a day trip to the Sleeping Bear Dunes area and as we came over a hill on M-109 amongst the sand and dune grass, I spied this barn...
and it was love at first sight. Something deep inside me fluttered and I knew that this was the place I wanted to be, for longer than just a vacation. I still get the same feeling when I come over that hill, twenty years after that first flutter.
We have returned to the peninsula many times over the years. I think one year I was here eight times over the course of the year, and yet it still wasn't enough. It doesn't matter if it is for a day, a week or 10 days, I never want to leave once I am here.
This year we spent two weeks on the peninsula in June. The longest continuous span yet. I thought this is it, this will be the test to see if I get bored with being here in the same place for so long. Two weeks and one day later (we managed to squeeze an extra day out of our cottage rental agent/friend Tammy) I can testify that I still didn't do even half the things that I wanted to do. First there are old favorites to visit and then we keep finding new places to explore as well. Two weeks gives you time to find lots of new places but not enough time to explore them all.
I am going to use my experiences and my photographs from our years of vacationing on the peninsula, I am going to take out that plain black binder and truly work through Kat's course material this time. I have found the right "place" for this class.