The Northern Michigan JournalPREVIOUSNEXT

Too Big for Boxes
by Molly Grosvenor

When the summer sun slips away, autumn bursts into fantastic displays that fill the diminishing light. Beautiful and sad, I always wish to hold that time and make it last forever, but the colors withered and fell as they always do. Soon hidden views opened with the dropping of shielding leaves...landscapes barely recognizable as what they were only weeks ago. In autumn, eyes can travel deep into the forest. Stands of naked trunks reveal new shapes, branches shake their angry fingers at the sky, and the skeletons of plants hide in shriveled brown compost. Yards are scattered with rotting apples and sunflowers droop in quiet nods. Tourists blow out of town with the coming of the winter winds and the lights on the lake's shoreline click off like clockwork.

It is in the stillness of this new season that we begin to hear the chimes of Christmas songs and the return of Santa's little commercial elves telling us what gifts we need and those we need to buy for others. While keeping the stress of Christmas shopping in a remote brain cell in my head, I've been re-thinking the idea of gifts. The thoughts sparked when I read a letter from Martha Teichner, who has just recently donated a gift of land to the Leelanau Conservancy. Her passionate memories of the love her parents had for the land, reminded me of two of the most important gifts that I and all county residents share: this amazing peninsula environment and the history and many memories inevitably connected to our priceless natural gift. In a letter written to the Leelanau Conservancy about the 20 acre Teichner Natural Area, Martha wrote:
"It was the wildness of the land my parents learned to love when they found themselves in northern Michigan after World War II, and it is that love I would like to honor with my gift to the Leelanau Conservancy.

"Once, not long before she died, I asked my mother if she remembered anything hopelessly romantic... the most romantic thing she and my father used to do together. My father died when I was nine, so in all my memories of them together, they were young and strong and wonderful to watch. She sat for a long time without responding, and then said, very quietly, very simply, "In the summer, when the moon was full, sometimes at night after you were in bed asleep, we would go down to Lime Lake. We would push out the Bass Lake Cottages--Get away from it all!raft and swim in the moonlight." It had been her secret all those years after he died, a small, special treasure, so precious she only allowed me a glimpse of it as she herself was dying.

"In my mind I could see...the depth of the woods closing in on them as they descended the path from our house to the lake...the sound of their breathing, their footsteps on the soft earth...a full chorus, an orchestra of insects and birds and small animals in the velvet darkness.. whippoorwills calling out. And then the water, cool and smooth and silvery in the night stillness...rippling softly, lapping their bodies as they moved through it bathed in moonlight...the sky alive with stars...and the mystery of being there utterly alone filling their hearts. My mother's gift to me of a silver, moonlit memory, I pass on now, along with all I have left of the land that made this memory of hers possible. It occurs to me that memories can end up like so many plowed-under tree stumps when a beautiful piece of woods has been violated. I hope that mine will be the first, not the only donation of land around the lake, because I cannot imagine Lime Lake any way but wild."
The Teichner Natural Area straddles the intersection of Lime Lake and Old Mountain Roads, a neighbor to the new Arnold Palmer golf course. While a new landscape is built on one side of the road, the preserved natural area will now forever provide a window into the rich natural and historical resources of the land. We are deeply honored by this gift to the entire community, frog, fish, bird, and people alike. I dare to say that each person on this peninsula shares a similar love and respect for the land and water, and that each person shares a memory deep rooted in the wildness of Leelanau County. This is certainly a rare and incredible gift.

While watching the full moon rise above Lime Lake from my front porch, I think of Hans and Miriam Teichner. I also remember and hold memories from my family, saving them for my children.

NOTE: To any who read this in the Conservacy's newsletter and, especially, to Martha Teichner, the Leelanau Conservancy wishes to apologize for misspelling Miriam Teichner's name.
Links From This Article
The Leelanau Children's Center
[where Molly works!]
Captain Jay and the East Wind
by Molly Grosvenor

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