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Day 324 - The Sun Also Rises...

I spoke about my love of Hemingway a few days ago. Imagine my joy to find myself in Petoskey, Michigan where Hemingway spent a lot of time in his early life and wrote about often in his works. Here I am in this quaint little town, walking paths he walked and seeing things he saw. I am totally overjoyed! I also realize this makes me a total geek. I do not care one bit!

If you have never been to Petoskey, Michigan, I highly encourage a visit. It is charming and beautiful and reminiscent of a time long gone. It is manicured, perfected and slow. It has a thriving downtown and not one store is boarded up to prevent looting. It is the kind of town that screams, “Nothing bad happens here!” Which of course, would not be true...bad stuff happens everywhere. But here if you look around, you could pretty quickly become convinced that was not true.

The Hemingway cottage was called Windemere on the shores of Lake Walloon. It is just a few miles from where I am staying. It was also designated a National Historic Landmark, 2 days before my birthday...the year before I was born. Ok, I know I am reaching there...but everything about this place feels familiar to a person who has read everything published by him. Fun side note, Hemingway and my dad were both born in Oak Park, Illinois too.

Ok, I am almost done geeking out...Hemingway stayed in the same hotel I am staying in 1916 after a camping and fishing trip with a friend of his. He would have been about 17.

There is something comforting about being overlayed on history. Especially history that means something to you on an individual level...

So last night on my first night in this historic town, my daughter and I walked around and took in the town. We were also starving and having a hard time finding a place that was open on a Sunday, didn’t have a 45 minute wait and served anything that we might be able to eat. I always forget the Midwest is not a good place for vegetarians...

We struck out and I was so crabby that my daughter insisted that we just go to a grocery store and get some cheese and crackers. She is sometimes more the adult in our relationships which is truer than I would like to admit...

As we got in the car to head to the nearest store, we looked toward Lake Michigan and were blown away by the sunset. It was spectacular. So I delayed food a little longer to rush the water’s edge and take it in. I found all the people who were not waiting 45 minutes for dinner there with me at the lake side, also taking in the magnificent ending of another day done.

I believe that Hemingway must have come up with his title to his most famous book watching the sunset here in Petoskey. It would be something that I would think as I sat there emblazoned with the sun’s setting afterglow. Yesterday I saw the beauty of the leaving sun, the fantastically arrogant colors flashed across the sky. And as I stood there, letting the pink, purple haze delight me, I found myself thinking, involuntarily, that as wonderful as this display was, tomorrow was a new day that would bring delights of its own. Tomorrow would also bring toils and troubles and issues that I would have to deal with...

As I stood there facing off with Sunday’s sun, I felt a bit lost, misplaced and lonely. I felt adrift, unsettled and homesick. I missed my animals, my own hometown, my bed, family, routines and hiking trails. I stood there awash with beauty and majesty but likewise felt sad and out of place. Then I remembered that the sun also rises, and the glorious display of Sunday would give way to darkness and to a new day dawning that would be full of delights of its own and also perils.

I decided as I stood there somewhat bereft, that Hemingway must have also stood on this shore and been caught between the two suns. That his love for the beauty of the day’s last gasp was put into perspective that another sun would come and bring a new day and with it, new drama and trauma.

For me, Hemingway loved the setting sun far more than the rising. He grew up here in Petoskey where sunsets are something to behold. And he found his way to Key West where sunset is heralded and glorified every single day. Yes, he must have loved the setting sun and all its meticulous spectacularness.

I wondered if as I stood there last night, tinted by the hues of the day, if he also sometimes felt lost as he watched the setting sun. If he felt like he was on this path that sometimes left him confused and lonely and bathed in loss. I wondered if he, like me, tried to bolster his flagging emotions by the promise of a new day. That his most famous title was a gentle reminder to himself that while the sunset gives us an amazing finish, the sun will also rise again tomorrow and that is cause for hope. And sometimes it all just seems too much to be caught between the two suns. As if life does not give us what we need to cope with being forever lodged squarely between the suns of each passing day. That perhaps sometimes on a long, tiring Sunday, the promise of a rising sun seems a little too much. So all there is to do is to allow the light of day’s end to bathe you in the failing light of a day undone. And to stand there and hold your space between the setting and the rising. To defiantly, and adamantly demand your place that is neither moved nor controlled by the power of suns you cannot tame.

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