We are back.  From one of our favorite places on earth.  I wish I could tell you about it in person, because a trip to the U.P. in Michigan demands arm gestures and facial expressions.  You’ll have to settle for commentary and pictures.  If you go to Sugar Island in the U.P., you’ll get what I mean.

 You can go on a mystery trip to Hens and Chicks island.  You’ll take your cousin so he can explore this unchartered territory too.  You’ll eat Pringles because you have to eat crap when you’re in the U.P.  It’s a law or something.

 You can go with Grandpa on the “big boat” to Cozy Corners for dinner.  You’ll wait forever for your food, but in the meantime you can play beach volleyball out front and watch the boats go by.

 If you’re like Lucy, you can go tubing with your cousin.  You’ll shriek with glee and make her laugh and laugh.  Then you’ll declare that you’re all done and ask Aunt Cathie to stop the boat.  She will.  You will check that off your four year old bucket list and move on to the next thing.

 If you’re like Peter, you’ll spend all your time on the dock waiting for your turn to tube behind Grandpa’s new Sea Doos and having your fabulous hair blow in the wind.  You’ll giggle as you watch your dad do his best to flip your big cousins off.

 You’ll climb up on Grandma Nancy’s new Sea Doo to take a break from swimming in the frigid water.  You’ll stretch them out in the warm sun, pretend you’re driving to Richard’s Landing for brown diapers and Canadian candy bars and wait for the feeling to creep back in from your toes to your thighs.  Then you’ll hop back in and do it all over again.

 Seriously.  This kid kills me.  Wearing his visor so his lips won’t get sunburned and waiting for his turn, probably while eating bugles and cheese squares.

 If you’re like Grant, you might kick off your Sugar Cottage vacation with a trip to the War Memorial E.R.  You’ll cut your finger trying to open a bag of beach toys for your sister.  Your mom will be in the Soo grabbing groceries at Wal-Mart (a whole blog post in itself), so she’ll meet you there and silently curse the fact that fully half of the parking spots are reserved for prison vehicles.  You won’t hear her because you’ll be in triage.  Thankfully, you’ll just get glued and be sent on your way.  Your mom will treat you to a burger with the works at Clydes while you’re waiting for the ferry.  Totally worth it.

 You’ll want to stay here.  Just trust me on this.  You’ll stay in the little cottage just to the right of the dock.  It’s one room of loveliness with a view to Ontario’s St. Joseph island.  It’s a little slice of heaven with a side of awesome.

 You’ll want to take the boats to Duck Lake at least one time.  It’s tradition.  You’ll anchor the boat, slip slide on the slippery rocks, hike past the old library and the remains of Governor Charles Osborn’s cabin.

 You’ll come out at a bridge.  On one side is the prettiest river.  On the other is a pond.  You’ll want to swim.  Your mother will watch from the bridge, vomit in mouth, wondering if there is anything scarier to her than swimming in a dark pond.

 This thought will not bother you in the least.  You’ll hop right in and exclaim about how warm it is.

After you’ve done this fun swimming in Duck Lake and hiking and discovering thing, you’ll head back to the boats knowing there is dipping caramel and apples waiting for you back at The Sugar.

 You’ll go to the pier everyday and jump off.  It’s tradition too.  Your mom will probably only jump on the day you swim to Canada.  There won’t be pictures of this because she can’t swim and take pictures at the same time, so you’ll just have to trust me on this.

 Grandma Nancy will buy an inflatable basketball hoop and your cousins, who know a lot more about sports than anyone, will offer up commentary filled with stats and names you don’t understand, but that will make you put your best game on and go for it.

 You’ll do a through-the-legs-swoop-and-throw that’ll make you feel like the coolest kid on earth.  And you’ll be right.

Even Buddy and Millicent Pearl will jump.  Dogs are get crazy like that on Sugar Island.

 This is Ruby and Archie.  They are neighbors and friends.  This year they got to be the Grand Marshalls in the Sweetest Fourth on the North Parade.  They wore special hats and sashes.  You’ll have to meet them if you ever get to Sugar Island.  They are fixtures there.

 You’ll spend lots of time preparing for Sweetest Fourth in the North.  If you have an Aunt Cyndy, she’ll make your hair very special.  Ribbons and bands and lots of love.

She’ll even transform a total hair bomb into something really cute and festive.  She’s great like that.

 You’ll spend the morning decorating Grandpa’s paddle boat and John Deere Gator into your float.  Peter will be your Grand Marshall, along with Buddy, Millicent Pearl and Super Stewey.

 You’ll parade from the store to Grandpa’s place.  When you get there, hundreds of people will be following with patriotic shirts and dishes to pass.  You’ll grill about a billion brats and hot dogs for them and stand back and think that it’s pretty cool how Mumsy started this 8 years ago and it’s still going strong.  How Grandma Nancy has embraced it and you and how thankful you are for all of that.  How very very blessed you are for another year at the Sugar Cottage.

Grandpa will put on an amazing show, he always does.  You’ll sit on the grass, swatting at mosquitoes and watching kids run around with glow jewelry.  You’ll lean against your husband and silently thank Father for this place and this family and this life.  It is beyond.  Just way beyond.
This is me being real.  Wishing I was still there.  Wishing you were too.


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