Monday, March 13, 2006

Northern Spring

I love this picture. It is one of the collection of photos that Richard found in the rafters of Grandpa Gord's garage. That's my uncle Bryan Harry in the front, my great grandfather William Rowe Harry on the left, with my Grandma Mimi behind him. The lady on the right in the front is my great grandma Sarah Louise (Hawes) Harry. At the end of the table, in the sunglasses and hat is Mary Meyers, my great aunt. The lady in the white hat is Aunt Eva Lignian. That little head peeking up behind her is my mother.

I first saw this picture when Anna was about 3 years old. My mother looked like Anna.

My mother remembers many of these car trips up north. The would start about this time of year, as soon as the snow melted, traveling north from Flint to pick trailing arbutus.

I've never seen trailing arbutus, although there is an Arbutus Lake southeast of Traverse City. Nobody around here ever speaks of trailing arbutus. I always figured that trailing arbutus was gone, picked by flower gatherers of two generations ago. Last fall I was picking wild blueberries with a neighbor when we happened across a patch of it. I aim to go back this spring and see it flowering.

My mom remembers those trips as real adventures. The men of the household all worked in Detroit's then-fledgling auto industry and they were pushing the limits of both the cars and the roads. They would load the whole extended family into a couple of cars and set off. Mom and Bryan often had to share a portion of the backseat with the dogs. Mom says the dogs usually weaseled their way onto the seat and she usually ended up on the floor. When the cars broke down the women would set up the picnic while the men rolled up their sleeves and went to work fixing the car.

We are having spring, northern Michigan style, this week. Sunday was a beautiful warm day. I picked up the yard, pruned, and burned some brush. Yesterday was again warm, but with tornado, flood and blizzard warnings. It turned much colder last night. Though we didn't get much snow, the wind howled. Today, stuck in the house, my nose has been cold all day.

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