Monday, September 21, 2020

A Jolt of Radiance

This weekend, my husband Bill and I drove north to visit my daughter Francesca’s grave on the Northshore of Lake Superior where we’d moved soon after we married. She’d died 19 years earlier when she was twenty-four. We’d buried her ashes an on a knoll on our property overlooking Lake Superior where we’d moved in 1998. I could visit her grave every day and view it from our kitchen and dining room windows.

When we bought that property in Schroeder two years after we married, we had every intention of living and dying there. It was the home we’d sought all our lives.  A place of beauty, belonging and inspiration where we’d live until we died. With that in mind, we bought several plots in the Schroder Cemetery. We forgot we’d grow old and health issues would require we sell that home and move back to the Twin Cities.

Since we moved, we’ve been able to return to visit only twice.  Since then, health crises and Covid-19 kept us confined to our home. But we continued to talk about a possible trip when Bill got strong enough. This Sunday, the day after the anniversary of Francesca’s death we decided to take the change. It was a beautiful fall day. Bill felt strong enough to take the chance. Portable oxygen gave us confidence to risk the four-hour drive to Schroeder once more. It was one of those crazy, impetuous decisions that drove us to buy a home on the Northshore in the first place. I packed a picnic lunch and off we went.

Francesca’s grave was in surprisingly good shape. No grass or groundcover had crept over the stone marker and we were able to remove those that might. While we were there, we also cleaned up our markers and visited the graves of the friends and neighbors we’d lost. We’d hoped to have time to walk the lake shore but as we had to drive back that evening we decided to take a quick drive up the Cramer Road from the cemetery to check on the fall colors.

We hit peak season on one of the best Fall Color Drives on the North Shore. We didn’t have to drive far to enter the jeweled cathedral that draw so many enthusiasts. We were surprised to find the road to ourselves. Driving through miles of miracles can be overwhelming. The brilliant colors lining the road became even more exquisite within the forest. Evening sunlight filtered through the maples, piercing the leaves, and illuminating the trunks. Oh, the colors, the quiet, the glory we got to view. And all because we’d taken a leap and driven north to visit Francesca’s grave.

With only an iPhone camera to catch the experience, and shooting into the sun, we had to operate blindly.  Amazing what those cameras can do!

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About Me

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Beryl is the author of The Scent of God: A Memoir published by Counterpoint NY in 2006 and A View of the Lake published by Lake Superior Port Cities Inc. in 2001. She’s been living on Lake Superior for seventeen wonderful years, and spent 10 years writing two popular columns for the Cook County News Herald: Newcomer Notes and Putting Down Roots. Beryl is past president of the Schroeder Area Historical Society and a long-time chair of its Oral History and Marketing committees. She is a past board member of the Violence Prevention Center in Grand Marais and committee member for the Grand Marais Art Colony’s first ever annual North Shore Reader and Writers Festival. She’s been published in the Sun Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, Lake Superior Magazine, and The Trenton Times and in the anthologies, Surviving Ophelia published by Perseus Publications in 2001 and The New Writer's Handbook, Vol. 2, published by Scarletta Press in 2008 and was named Best of Minnesota Writers by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She is currently working on her third memoir: the sequel to The Scent of God.