Wednesday, October 16, 2013

In Door County

This column is about Door County, one of my favorite places on the planet. Door County, the little "thumb" on Wisconsin's east side that reaches into Lake Michigan and forms Green Bay on the west, is a land of water, woods, bluffs, farmland, and peace. It is a natural-born resort area but also a realm of hidden treasures, quiet back roads, and sheltering forest. It's the place I go to breathe.

But that doesn't mean it doesn't inspire that other side of me!

Under a golden sun, autumn in Door County is a bounty of iconic seasonal beauty: corn shocks, friendly scarecrows, pumpkins, mounds of apples and even larger mountains of pumpkins, ornamental ears of corn and wagon-loads of every imaginable squash and gourd known to modern agriculture. Fall is a time when the county shines.

Fall is also a time of gray and rainy days, chilly fall nights, the smell of wood fires, and when conditions are absolutely right, twilight fog. Ah, and that fog is as wonderful to me as the sight of autumnal riches. 

When our kids were still young enough to travel north with my husband and me, but old enough to bring along friends, we had a Friday night tradition of lighting a fire in the fireplace, turning out all the lights, and sharing ghost stories. I will never forget the night one of their friends had just hit a climactic part of the story and the log in the fireplace broke. We all jumped about twenty feet, and that turned out to be one of the best ghost story nights ever.

But to kick off an evening such as that, I would remind the kids, as we drove northward past meadows shrouded in dusk and fog, that this was the time when the shops closed and all the customers went home. At least, all the living ones. I would wonder out loud what came out in the foggy night to peruse the jars of homemade jams and the endless bakery cases of pie. I would invite the kids to think of all that could be wandering out in the damp and chill of those deserted fields, following paths that were once followed years and years ago. And if we ventured out, would we see any of them? Would we even -gasp- be invited to join them? A wonderfully chilling thought to ponder over mugs of hot cocoa or cider. Safely inside the cabin,of course

Door County in the fall is an amazing place. When you read this, think of me being up there, enjoying the sun and celebrating the fog. No writer of supernatural fiction would ever turn away from such a place of bright and dark magic.

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