I’m back in the desert after a week in northern Minnesota, a place intensely dear to my heart. Just prior to our departure on Saturday morning, I noticed the lake completely fogged in. Assuming it was the combination of excessive moisture and warmer temperatures, I’ve never seen the lake so quiet. In our final moments before leaving, my father, granddaughters, and I sat on the dock soaking up the soft, misty stillness. That quiet was a frequent visitor all week and remains with me now as I re-enter my desert life.
Re-entry from Minnesota summers has always been a challenge for me. Our family first vacationed in Minnesota the year I was ten, and although I missed a few years in my early adulthood when plane fares were out of the question, I’ve gone back whenever I could. During the 1960s, my parents made considerable sacrifices to send me to summer camp in northern Minnesota. At camp, in nature’s arms, I came alive. Among friends, learning to sail and enjoy outdoor life, my true spirit awakened. At the end of the four weeks when I was supposed to go home I cried and begged to stay longer. I couldn’t wait for the next summer.
My family continued to vacation in Minnesota long after I started raising my own family in the desert. Eventually my parents bought a lot and built their own home on Rush Lake. Since then, I’ve tried not to miss a summer. Every year something different arises as a theme. Some years it’s been the thrill of sailing with my father, or just being on the lake with siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, grandchildren. One year, “the summer of no summer,” it was so cold and rainy that we spent most of the time just staying warm. It turned out to be one of our favorite summers.
This year, immersed in easy, happy times, what was most prevalent was the quiet. Each morning I walked, soaking up the essence of the thick woods adjacent to vast bodies of water. With each step I found myself drawn deeper into the quiet place within, recognizing that it is a place I need to visit more often, regardless of where I am. Thoreau once wrote, “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” Minnesota offered an invitation to affect the quality of my life through stepping consciously, quietly, into the depth of my own heart.