The cabin is pitch black at night. The first night this was so disorienting that I dreamt renegade crazy men were racing dirt bikes on the trail all night. Seriously, they kept me up for hours with their zooming vehicles. In the morning I had to go check the trail for tire marks. Of course there were none, but it seemed so real I had to check.
The second night I figured out that I could look through the window above my bed and if I craned my neck just right I could see the tiniest bit of sky. This was the orientation of light that I needed to sleep. Except that the pillow here is utterly wretched and regardless of the fact that I wore myself out yesterday hiking ten miles of trail—half of which was loose rock and the other half bog—I slept poorly. I did not, however, dream of dirt bikes. Which was nice.
I woke determined to buy myself a pillow I feel myself utterly blessed to have found one in this remote corner of Earth. (By the way, in case you didn’t know, the Porcupine Mountains are in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan along the shore of Lake Superior). And of course I am also giddy because it is utterly gorgeous here—the fall colors are in full swing—and if you couple that with the rich evergreens and bone-white birches, all against the backdrop of the Mother Lake, well, it’s breathtaking.
On my first day here I saw a wild porcupine! That sentence received an excalmation point because a) I have never seen a wild porcupine and they are amazing, like little bears with a coat of needles and an easy demeanor befitting one so well-endowed in the armor department and b) I am in the Porcupine Mountains, after all, so it seemed a delightful omen to see one on the first day. I’ve also seen snakes, ruffed grouse, V’s of geese, and heard loons and the drumming of a ruffed grouse
At times the landscape seems so familiar, even achingly so, for the hemlocks here are in fine health, with lush green lace dresses that I miss so deeply in my own landscape where they are falling prey to that terrible invasive insect, the wooly adelgid. Just by my cabin is a grove of hemlocks, their dark shade and lush carpet of needles creating a space of dark and quiet…
And other times I am struck by the difference—all the plants I don’t know (though I do know some, like thimbleberry, though sadly there are none to eat this late in the season), the stunning birches, the curious nonesuch shale and agate stones.
I’m using the Visitors Center free and always on wifi–a pleasant convenience just inconvenient enough not to distract me. A barred owl is hooting, a deep baritone, which reminds me that I must make my way back into the forest, and to my cabin, where there is a tapestry of life that stuns me awake. Though I hope to sleep tonight. With my new, precious pillow.