town looking for a cup of coffee.
“Of course, you can get something to eat here,” she said as she stepped from behind the counter, her arm extended. “My name is Marilyn. Welcome to the Blu Moon Café. Can I get you a hot coffee?”
She led me to a private table with two wrought iron chairs located next to the front window. Close to the outdoors, but warm and dry. In civilization, but not too close to all the chatter and commotion of the other diners. It was perfect for me.
“I must look pretty bedraggled,” I admitted when Marilyn returned with the coffee. “I’m at the state park, camping alone. I got drenched while walking back from the shower and I’m freezing. But since the first thing I blurted out was about food, I guess I’m starving, too. Come to think of it, I haven’t eaten a meal since riding my bike to Pentwater two days ago.”
Her energy bounced off walls filled with memorabilia from the 1950’s and 60’s. Old photographs captured the radiant smile of Marilyn Monroe, a smile no more engaging than that of this bubbly woman with spikey red hair.
“Really?” her eyes widened. “Well, let’s get you something to eat. Can I suggest the frittata with homemade biscuits and jam? You won’t find anything like it in town.”
“Sounds great,” I exclaimed, noticing the menu was filled with possibilities not found in most small harbor communities. “I can’t believe a place like this is exists in a little town like Ludington. Is it new?”
Her eyes scanned the restaurant briefly, as if to ensure things were humming nicely.
“Mind if I join you for a cup of coffee?” she asked. “We can exchange stories. I’m curious about your camping experience. But first, let me give the kitchen your order so your stomach stops growling.”
“Sorry,” I laughed, my cheeks reddening. She waved away my apology and started towards the kitchen. Several people entered the café, and she stopped, greeting each person by name. I watched her quietly give instructions to a young waitress before joining me at the table.
“So, tell me about camping alone.”
She was clearly the owner of this unique restaurant jammed with people in the middle of a weekday morning. The campground was empty. The marinas would not see boats for another month, but this café was packed. I wanted to respect her time but was curious about this little island of friendliness.
Briefly, I explained my journey up the coast—days filled with hikes through the dunes, evenings by the campfire, reading or writing. I shared my need to live near Lake Michigan in the second half of my life, my search to find purpose after leaving a successful career.
And then it was her turn.
“For the last 25 years, I’ve been an executive for Federated and other retail giants,” she began. “I used to tell the staff working in the cosmetic departments that customers can buy cosmetics anywhere. The only reason they return to your counter in your store is because of you. And sometimes, the difference can be as simple as a welcoming smile.”
Is that not what we all need in our lives? Just a smile every now and then? I looked around the restaurant. The place was filled with smiles.
“When my husband and I decided to start a restaurant together, we were living in North Carolina. But we’d lived in Michigan before, had family and friends here. More important, we knew we wanted to live by Lake Michigan. So, when we got a phone call about a little place for sale in Ludington, we decided to check it out.”
“But what made you decide to leave retail?” I asked.
“I have two daughters, 26 and 8 years old,” she explained. “I was busy climbing the corporate ladder, moving every couple of years to broaden my experiences, build a solid resume. My eldest, Jordan, grew up constantly changing schools. It wasn’t easy for her, I realized. But she seemed to do okay.
“Last year, I came home from a trip and my youngest, Lillë, called me ‘daddy.’ It stopped me cold. ‘What am I doing with my life?’ I asked myself. ‘And with hers?”
Same question. Different circumstances. Both of us walked away from large jobs, bonuses, perks, and titles in search of something else. And the “something else” included Lake Michigan.
No wonder the place was packed, I thought at the time. She recreated her life to match her dream of someday owning a restaurant near the shores of Lake Michigan. In having the courage and perseverance to do so, she became a beacon of hope for the rest of us. And that beacon touched every wandering soul stumbling through the door looking for a bit of nourishment.
Please Submit a Comment on Line 5 Prior to August 4th
There are times to celebrate the Great Lakes and times to protect them. This month includes both.
The state of Michigan released the report on the alternatives to Line 5, the 64-year-old pipeline lying beneath the Straits of Mackinac. Public comment period ends August 4th. My comments to elected officials (those responsible for ensuring the quality of our water for us as well as future generations) follow. Please consider submitting your own comments at the Michigan DEQ website devoted to pipelines: Michigan Petroleum Pipelines
or sign a petition at Oil and Water Don't Mix.
My comments (submitted with the petition) are as follows:
Please do not consider building a new pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac, or continue to allow Enbridge to transport oil through the current 64-year-old pipeline. Michigan residents—all of us—have everything to lose and little to gain.
In addition to the concerns outlined in this petition, I am troubled that public hearings to disseminate and explain the study outlining options to Line 5 were not more widespread. This decision affects all of us in Michigan. According to research conducted by the Pure Michigan office, tourism generated over $22.8 billion to the state in 2014. And while a spill would directly affect our northern communities, it affects us all. We all drink, fish, and swim in these waters. We all benefit from tourism. It is why, as tax payers, we support and fund the Pure Michigan program.
Please begin to decommission Line 5 and require Enbridge to pipe its oil under land, not under our water.
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