Monday, November 29, 2010

Forty-seven years on Thunder Lake

Forty-seven years ago, my mother bought a piece of property on a small lake in western Michigan. At the time, I couldn’t imagine what she was thinking, nor was I thrilled about spending time in what seemed like the wilderness to me. I wasn’t too far wrong about that. The property bordered the Manistee National Forest and the only access to the place was a dirt two-track road. At the age of 12, I couldn’t share her vision, but forty-seven years later, I have finally started to realize what she must have felt when she first stood here and looked out over this beautiful little lake.
Thunder Lake is a small jewel that even today is fairly remote from the rest of the bustling resort areas of Michigan. Wildlife is plentiful. Deer often come down to the water to drink. Blue herons stand on long elegant legs waiting to pluck breakfast from the shallows. An occasional porcupine may waddle down the road. This summer we heard there was an eagle at a neighboring lake, but we haven’t seen him yet.

The cabin that my mother helped build on her property is still standing, and in the summer you can sit out on the deck and look out at the water that shimmers and sparkles like diamonds in the sunlight. Summer can be hot and sticky with humidity from the lake, but most times a breeze drifts across the water bringing a lovely cool-down to the evening.

In spite of summers that are as sweet as tree-ripened fruit, my favorite time at the lake is in the fall when the trees change to towers of gold and flame. They reflect in the water, sometimes so perfectly that it’s hard to tell which way is up. This time of year the quiet is almost palpable and often the only sounds you hear are the leaves and acorns falling or a fish jumping in the lake.

I have to thank our place on Thunder Lake for getting me started writing. There was little else to do when we first came here; few other kids around my age. So I started writing in steno notebooks, stories that I made up about people who lived a long time ago. I still have those notebooks stashed somewhere, never having the heart to throw them away. I can still remember sitting in our camper and scribbling in them.

My mother passed away last year, and I don’t know what will ultimately become of her little cabin in the woods. It makes me sad to think that someday I may not be able to go there, but even if that day comes, I’ll still carry the memories with me, of the early morning fog lifting from the lake and the stillness of a loon gliding through the smooth-as-silver water.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas Booksigning Bash!

75 Christian Authors * One Amazing Online Event

The Christian Review of Books in conjunction with CrossPurposes Bookstore

is excited to announce the first annual Christmas Book Signing Bash.

Beginning on the day after Thanksgiving and lasting ten days (26 November

- 7 December), this book signing will be an unprecedented online event. 75

of today’s favorite Christian Authors have come together to answer

questions, chat with their readers, and offer signed copies of their

books—all without leaving the comforts of home and hearth!

Readers can search by author, title, or genre at the Christian Review of

Books ( and then follow the purchase links

to CrossPurposes Bookstore ( and buy autographed

copies of each book featured. The authors will sign the books and ship them

to the customers.

For a full list of participating authors, visit the CRoB.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas Booksigning Bash!

Starting at midnight November 25, visit the online Christmas Booksigning Bash to shop for tons of autographed books by 75 different authors. What a great opportunity to find gifts without leaving the comfort of your favorite easy chair. No standing in line, no fighting the crowds, no chance that something will be sold out when you get there. Dozens of wonderful books will be available for your choosing, autographed by the authors and sent to you.

Please stop by and browse from now through December 7. You're sure to find a book for just about everyone on your shopping list. Just follow the link
to begin your shopping experience.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 10--a date I'll always remember

I've intended to start writing here again and can't believe it's been over a year. We all know what sometimes happens to good intentions, but I hope to be a good little blogger and update much more frequently. I'll call it my nearing-the-end-of-the-year resolution.

I was inspired to write today because November 10 will always be a date I remember. First, it was my dear mom's birthday, and who among us wants to forget that very special day? She left us last year, and I still miss her so much and wish every day I could hear some of those adages of of my favorites being, "Don't go outside after you wash your hair. That's why you get sick." But even if I can't hear her say it, in my heart it's always there, especially since I've probably repeated some of those momisms to my own kids over the years. I know heaven's a better place because she's there today.

But another reason this date always resonates with me is because of something that happened hundreds of miles away 35 years ago today. Today is the 35th anniversary of the loss of the freighter the SS Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior "when the gales of November came early." (Gorden Lightfoot) I can still recall how those gales battered us here in southwest Michigan, which is about as far away as you can get from Lake Superior and still be in the state.

On November 10, 1975, I was a new mother and feeling as nervous and exhausted as any first-time mother may feel. My daughter was only a few weeks old and was having some new baby allergy issues that kept her fussy and unable to sleep. I'd hadn't been able to put her down for very long all day....and then the winds started.

Roaring in from the west and across Lake Michigan, they whipped around our small house, threatening it seemed to carry us all away. I remember just sat holding my baby and wishing the winds would stop.

Then, later that night, we heard it was feared a ship had been lost on Lake Superior far to our north. Eventually we learned it was the SS Edmund Fitzgerald that sank, taking with it 29 men, including a young man from our own area. What a sad and tragic event to happen on a scary November day. A year later, Gordon Lightfoot (one of my favorite singers) recorded his song, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," and when I first heard it on the radio, it brought back all the terror of that night and those terrible winds.

Over the years, I've become a collector of sorts of articles and information about that shipwreck and others on the Great Lakes. I have a folder stuffed with newspaper articles I've cut out and saved. Sometime ago we visited the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point in the Upper Peninsula and saw the bell that had been brought up from the ship. I remember as I sat watching a video about a diver's investigation of the wreck, I spoke with a woman who had been there the night the freighter sank. She said it was a horrible thing and everyone who had a boat wanted to venture out into the storm to look for any survivors,but knew they were no match for the lake's fury. I heard the sadness in her voice and could only imagine the horror they must have felt, knowing they were helpless to do anything.

Maybe you have to live near the Great Lakes to fully appreciate how much they affect the people here, as those who live near the ocean are affected, and how anyone who ventures out onto the big lakes always takes a chance at being at their mercy.

So the bell at Whitefish Point will ring 29 times today in memory of those 29 men lost on November 10, 1975 and a 30th times for all the mariners lost on the Great Lakes. I will have a little moment of silence, maybe light a candle and say a prayer that all the mariners traveling the Great Lakes this November 10 may travel safely.