Coming Home This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Suspense is all I can feel as I sit in the back seat of our jam-packed car on the 7 hour journey from my house, to my home. I have made the trip so many times that I can tell how far we have to go via simple landmarks like a tree or a house. I look out the window and notice the first couple white barked birch trees. We are getting closer. Nearing the 326 mile marker I start looking for the majestic pillars of the Mighty Mackinac Bridge. The architecture and design put into that 5 year project was well worth it. Riding uphill on the bridge, I am constantly turning my head from right to left, comparing Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. I look to my right and see Mackinac Island in the near distance and relive some of the great times spent there. As soon as the bridge ends, I grow even more impatient, but at least we are finally in the U.P. and there are only about 10 more miles to our exit. The next 20 minutes seems like a standstill until we finally turn down the gravel dirt road leading into our driveway. Home.

I get out of the car and my smile widens as the freshness of the cedar trees awakens my sense of smell. I walk swiftly down the sidewalk around the house, grabbing onto the base of one of the ferns that lines the path and stripping the narrow leaves from its stem. Now, the water is in sight and I continue my walk down the dock. When I round the boathouse’s corner and reach the end of the dock, I sit on the edge and dip my toes into the frigid, June water. I gaze at lighthouse on tiny Dollar Island, sitting about 50 yards from the end of the dock. Staring down the channel, I notice all the little things that make it so beautiful; The red and green buoys marking the channel, the sailboats bobbing on their moorings, and the whitecaps on the waves glistening in the sun. It’s these things that give me the secure feeling of being home again.

10:30 P.M and the sun is finally starting to set. The sunsets in Hawaii are nothing when compared to these sunsets. The sky is always at least 6 different colors and the sun seems to sink like a glowing orange ball into Lake Huron. As soon as it is pitch black outside, we start a bonfire in the fire pit on the beach. The moon begins to rise out of the water, and its reflection travels slowly down the channel. There is no better place to see stars than in a location an hour away from a big city. The Milky Way is in clear sight, and looks like a giant white stripe going from the northern to southern tree lines. Although I am exhausted from traveling, it is completely worth staying up until 2 or 3 A.M to see if the Northern Lights will make an appearance. When this happens they start out as just a few white lines going in all directions in one general area, but within 10 minutes, there are all sorts of greens and reds dancing across the starry sky. It is almost as if the wind has a color and it is running freely across the sky.

I wake up to a barking chipmunk outside my window. I am almost angry until I remember how much I enjoy the mornings in Les Cheneaux. After grabbing a cup of coffee, I put on my fuzzy slippers and walk down to the beach. On my way down, I notice a family of deer devouring grass in my neighbor’s front yard. They detect my movement and gracefully run away. The wind is dead, and the water looks like glass, showing a perfect reflection of everything on its surface. I walk down the dock and gaze down into the crystal clear water, and notice that I can see clear to the bottom. Looking out at the cedar tree-line, I truly feel like I am in paradise.

2 months later and the time has come to go back to reality. One last time, I walk down the splintery wooden dock and place my toes into the now warm, august water. Boats are zipping up and down the channel, sailboats are faring with their bright spinnakers downwind, and children are swimming playfully down the shoreline. I am sad to go, but I know next summer will be even better. Only 10 short months until I am home again.





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