My Wobbly Bicycle, 69

Posted by on Apr 22, 2014 | 17 comments

michiganSome places reach into your gut and take hold. Others not. I’m thinking a lot about place, of course, since we’re almost finished packing and—after a trip to Missouri for my father’s 96th birthday—on May 1 we’ll be moving to our condo here in Traverse City. I’ve lived in Columbia and Cape Girardeau, Missouri;  Middlebury, Vermont;  and Akron, Ohio–each for a short time. Then Fayetteville, Arkansas for over 22 years and Newark, Delware for 27 years.

Until we retired in 2007, I’d never lived in Michigan. Yet it’s always been my home. Isn’t that interesting, how we adopt some places and not others? You’d think I would have adopted Delaware, being their poet laureate and all. Raising my children for half their lives there. It’s a lovely state in so many ways, but I never properly sank into its soil.

I learned to walk close to the shore of our lake just north of here. Northern Michigan has been my spiritual home. You know that if you’ve been following me at all. I could say a lot more—and I do have a lot to write about. And furthermore, unwritten poems are screaming at me like starving children—but we have to fill these moving boxes.

sleeping bearInstead, I want to give you a link to a short (7 min.) film my grandson Zach made last summer at the lake—although he just finished editing it. Zach’s studying music at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. Besides being an amazing musician—jazz is his thing—he composes music and makes films. Here’s the link:

The film says everything about place that I could possibly say.



  1. I have been “transplanted” to many places – Tulsa, OK, St. Louis, MO, San Antonio, TX, McAllen, TX, Greenville, SC. But after 44 years I got to come “home” to Fayetteville, AR where I feel my toes growing roots into this rocky soil – again!

    • I would have chosen Fayetteville to retire, if you’d asked me years ago. But the north just called to me louder. I do get living the rest of your life in Fayetteville, for sure.

  2. It’s funny, this sense of place thing. Whenever I do an imagery exercise and am asked to imagine a place of comfort or a special place it’s always this secluded spot on Lake Michigan near Shalda Creek in the Park. Though I grew up in Michigan, I’ve visited and lived in some lovely places. They don’t seem to comfort me in this way. As a child takes a mother for granted, I guess take this place for granted. It’s only when I hear folks like you and Jerry, who are not natives, choosing it that I realize how much I value it!

    • I also feel that when we have visitors, that sense of yes, I’m right. It is THAT wonderful.

  3. Thanks to you and Zach and your whole family for sharing your special place with the rest of us. The mood was perfectly captured.

    • Zach is doing such good work. I think there were other of his videos at the top of the page you can see. Thanks.

  4. Fleda, How absolutely lovely. I was totally transported. I look forward to reading your blog every week, and this is one I will definitely visit again! Thank you, Brown family.

    • And I love knowing you’re reading, Debby. It’s been every other week lately, and may be again until we get settled. But every other week, for sure.

  5. Oh, I love the video! Thank you for sharing it, Fleda!

    • Three things missing–you and Devon and Kathryn on the end of the dock. This will happen when things slow down, I hope.

  6. Very great film with a wonderful cast! No wonder you love that cottage. Thanks for letting us see this!!

    • You’re welcome. Too bad it was only part of the family, but maybe there’ll be a Central Lake, II.

  7. Amazing, professionally done film. And he did the music too? What incredible talent. In an age when families scatter to the wind geographically it’s so reassuring to have that constant sense of place and tradition that this cottage provides for your family. I have only one question. Will you adopt me? After your move to the condo, of course, as I know you’re busy right now.

    • Sure, we’ll adopt you. But you have to help pay the taxes!

  8. Wow, that’s so wonderful. I love Zach’s soundtrack music. And that shot of the outhouse–I got to see the outhouse! The cottage looks so beautiful in the short clip of evening, red interior. Thanks, Fleda. Best of luck to you and Jerry on the big day May 1. I will be moving in to a new place, too, on May 1–my apartment for the month of May in Cassis, France. Oh my goodness. I will send you a pic. Love you! Can’t wait to see you. JoAnn

  9. Fleda, the film clip is amazing. What a talented young man!
    I have also been grabbed unexpectedly by a very strong sense of place. many years ago, the first time I stepped off a plane in Denver, I felt as though I had come home. At that time I had no friends or family living there, but I knew, some how, some way, I was meant to be there.
    Good luck with the move!

  10. Wonderful video. Reminds me of our family lake cabin in Northern Minnesota. Great to see you, if only on film. This thing about “home” does seem pretty basic, doesn’t it?

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