Melissa Pasanen and Mary Lucas

Melissa Pasanen
Old Highway
iphone photo treated in CameraPlus

A Summer Morning in Michigan
By Mary Lucas
Inspiration piece
The summers of my childhood were spent in Michigan.  We would drive north from Illinois in our latest Chevy Impala and stop first at our mother’s parents in Lakeside, an hour north of Chicago on the shore of Lake Michigan.  After a few days we would push farther north to visit our father’s mother and her husband.  It was an idyllic time with hours on the beach of Lake Michigan and long summer days spent playing with our cousins.

The summer I was seven we added a third leg to the trip.  Before dawn one August morning we packed up the car at Grandma Crane’s and headed north again to Lutsen, Minnesota on Lake Superior’s north shore to visit friends.  Grandma lived near Grand Rapids and even in August there was a chill in the air.  The pine needles smelled spicy in the early dampness.  We had a thermos of half hot coffee diluted with half heated milk so we could all enjoy its warmth.

That year our Impala was deep red with a black interior.  I remember watching my parents and Grandmother put the last item in the trunk.  Grandma lent us her favorite basket packed with a picnic lunch we could pull out at a rest stop along the new interstate highway.  I’m sure there were sandwiches but the only food I remember clearly is my Grandmother’s incredible homemade blueberry pie.  She always picked the blueberries herself and tucked them into a perfect flaky crust.

My mother was a little worried about leaving the pie in the basket.

My grandmother was completely confident she had the pie anchored firmly.

And my father was anxious, as always, to get on the road, especially after a visit with his mother.  He slammed the trunk; my brothers took their usual back window seats; and I slid in between our parents.

As the sun came up we were amazed by the wide, empty, smooth lanes of the recently opened interstate highway.  Our parents spent an hour bantering about how much time the new road would save us.  My brothers slept, our parents smoked, and morning passed as quickly as the pine trees and exits to small towns I’d never heard of.

By midmorning we were hungry and ready to stretch our legs.  It was agreed that Dad would get the picnic basket out of the trunk as my brothers groggily dug for their shoes in the back seat.  As he went back to open the trunk my mother sighed deeply and said, “I hope that pie’s Ok back there.”

As if on cue my father responded.  A loud, “JE-SUS CHRIST” slammed through the sounds of chirping birds and murmuring travelers scattered in the rest area.  Without missing a beat my mother remarked, “I guess it didn’t.”

It’s amazing how far and how fast blueberry pie filling can travel.  Somehow it managed to seep into suitcases and leave its stain across a huge collection of our clothes, shoes and other possessions.

Of all the things I recall from my childhood, that morning is one of my sharpest memories.

A red Chevy.

A blueberry pie.

A rest stop in Michigan on a sparkling August morning.

My family all together.

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