Door County, Wis., holds a lot of memories for me. It was more than 30 years ago when a couple who had collected my art vacationed in Door County and told Anne and Minnow Emerson, owners of the beautiful Edgewood Orchard Galleries in Fish Creek, about my artwork. Anne reached out to me, and I had a show and book signing the next summer at their gallery! Barry and I drove up for the opening with Kelly, who was almost one year old at the time. It was our first big trip with her. What is usually a six-hour drive took us a day and a half with our new baby Kelly in the back seat!
When we arrived in Fish Creek, we put Kelly in the backpack and looked around at the shops and galleries. We also took in a traditional fish boil. The day of the show opening was beautiful. I sat under a tent signing books and meeting lots of kids from the area. Meanwhile, Barry looked after Kelly in the big yard around the gallery. I had gone inside to show someone my artwork when Barry burst in with Kelly. He handed her to me saying, “She’s choking!” I remember panicking but not really checking Kelly. I had no idea what to do. Suddenly, Anne yelled out, “Is there a doctor in the house?” There were about five doctors in the house!
One of them took a good look at Kelly and found she just had a little piece of grass in her throat. She really wasn’t choking after all! Barry and I laughed about this for years. We wondered how Kelly ever survived with two beginner parents.
Through the years, I have had many reasons to travel up to Door County – speaking at the school, leading book tours and presenting mini-shows at the gallery. We also vacationed there as a family. But in all those years, I had never hiked in Door County.
Now I was leading a week-long A with third graders at the school, then presenting a picture book class for Write On Door County. I was fortunate to stay in the newly remolded Write On Door County House. It was just what I needed after a long and emotional winter. I had moved Barry twice and then moved myself into a new apartment. But I made up for lost time now and got some hikes in.
Hike Twenty-eight was on Sunrise Trail in Peninsula State Park, right off the main drag in Fish Creek. It was a warm and sunny late afternoon as I walked a couple of hours into the woods. On my way back, I heard frogs singing in the swamp and found a bench to sit on and just listen. The trail made a nice loop so I did not get lost.
The next day, I went back to the park and picked up the Hemlock Trail. The trail was a bit confusing, but it took me up to a high point where I could see the huge ice shoves on Green Bay. It had been a long, cold winter and the ice was just breaking up, causing ice formations that looked like icebergs.
Wandering around Hemlock trail took about two hours. Huge trees along some areas on the trail made me feel pretty small. I had spent the last two years feeling small and helpless. Nevertheless, I tried to think about all the fun times Barry and I had had up in Door County. I had been trying not to remember the good times because it was just so painful to think about all we have lost. But on this day, I remembered, and it wasn’t so tough after all.
Finally, I am half way to my goal of 60 hikes in my 60th
For Hike Thirty, I drove out to a Land Trust hiking area called Three Springs in Door County. I got really lost trying to find it. In fact, I ended up driving all the way to other side of the peninsula before I back-tracked and found the trail.
It was a rainy and wet day on the confusing trail. The area was in the process of being logged so lots of the trail markers were missing. I must be getting smarter in my old age. I realized that I had told no one where I was going, so instead of trying to follow the map, I went out 30 minutes, then turned around and walked back the same way. I was pleased to find a cool, old homestead in the woods and then a marsh area where I could sit and watch spring happening all around me.
Now 30 years later, here I was hiking in Door County while my husband was home in a care center. I felt like the young parent I was so long ago, not wanting to make a mistake and not knowing what to do while my child almost choked on a piece of grass. Except this time around, I am on my own, dealing with my husband’s escalating dementia. Will I do the right things? I hope so.