Greetings my friends. It’s hard to believe that it has only been a week since I last wrote. Sometimes time flies, sometimes it doesn’t. I am not one to dwell on the negative, but I have to admit that there have been some very dark moments in my life recently. I am also grateful to say that in not a single one of those moments was I left in total darkness. There was always a ray of light. That light came from my beautiful wife Nora. Her unselfish, unwavering and unconditional love was always there for me to see. The Lord was always there too, I am certain that he utilized Nora as his way to get through to me. There is no other way to describe how such a magnificent and perfect comforting could reach me in those moments. Perhaps these dark and terrifying moments are needed to see that there is ALWAYS hope, always an answer.
I would also be remiss in saying that the week was void of bright and wonderful moments. I have said it many a time, this is a magical place I live in and never ceases to mystify me in ways I never thought existed.
I am not going to get into the nitty-gritty of what medical procedure set all of the experiences of the past 4 weeks in motion, other than to say all the work was done where the sun does not shine. Rather ironic, I’d say!
So what is all hubbub about big news to share? Simply put, Nora, Grace, Huck, Bleau and I will be moving sometime in the near future. Not…and I repeat NOT from the Keweenaw. It’s a rather long story and I do plan to share with you as much as I have the energy for.
I believe the seed for this change was actually planted the moment Nora moved up here to live with me. She has ancient and very storied roots to this area. The geographical reach of those roots reaches from the very tip of the Keweenaw, where her ancestors took in survivors from the wreck of the “City of Bangor”, to a bit further south where one of her ancestors became the first female sheriff in the state of MI, or the incredibly strong and brave relatives that traveled from Vadso Norway to settle on the Keweenaw, but in an extremely challenging manner. They were the first (and only, I believe) persons to live on what is now Rabbit Island off the east coast of the peninsula. For many years, it was known as Berg island. A bit further south is the beautiful, but long forgotten community of Jacobsville.
I have mentioned Jacobsville in many of my journal entries, including those before I even met Nora. It has always been a special place for me, there is a beautiful energy that exists there. It saw it’s heyday over 100 years ago when dozens of quarry’s were created to extract the nationally famous Jacobsville Sandstone. That sandstone can be found in many of the buildings in the Keweenaw, but was also shipped out to places like Chicago, Boston, New York City and even London. The Waldorf-Astoria hotel in NYC is built with Jacobsville Sandstone.
Adjacent to Jacobsville was White City. It was the place to go to escape the summer heat. It had an amusement park, complete with a roller coaster, merry go round, shops and a boardwalk. There was a restaurant, saloon, dance pavilion and rental cottages. All the city slickers would travel by steamship to White City on weekends or day trips during the week for mini-vacations. The park closed during WWI and then re-opened briefly, but then faded into memory with so much of the rest of the “Grand Old Days of the Keweenaw”.
The ancestors of Nora’s who settled in Jacobsville were part of the first settlers in the area. Nora could tell it better, but I believe her great, great grandparents where the first. The other generations were born and raised there, including her grandfather, Russell Bergh. His Norwegian blood insisted that he be a man of the sea and had a carer aboard many different ships, the final calling making him the first commander of the US Coast Guard bouy tender/icebreaker Sundew. The Sundew now takes up residence in Duluth and is a floating museum.
Back in the mid-60’s Russell Bergh and his wife June built a new home directly behind the old family house, as it was time to retire the old girl. The old home being torn down, Russell and June went on to live a happy life in the quiets of Jacobsville.
Nora actually lived in the home for a few years and then went on to spend the vast majority of her childhood summers living there with her Grandma and Grandpa. Since I have known Nora, she has never had anything but wonderful stories of her time there. Mention the name June Bergh to a long-time local in places like Jacobsville, Bootjack and Lake Linden, and you will immediately put a smile on their face and then be treated to a story of warmth and generosity. These traits were handed down to my beautiful wife, as all you need to do is travel about the Keweenaw and mention Nora Dee and you will be met with the same reaction. Joy in the eyes and a smile on the face.
Around a year ago, Nora noticed some property right next door to her grandparents was for sale. The property had been for sale for a while and I believe Nora even knew that, but for some reason last spring, she could not escape the thought of owning it. So we purchased it.
At the time, the initial intentions were to just build a small camp on the property. Something to get away from the hustle and bustle of the suburbs of Mohawk and to let the energy of Jacobsville do it’s magic. I even went so far as to say that we could purchase the land and build a cabin on it, but that I could NEVER leave the home we are in now. It had all I needed and it literally had my blood, sweat and tears in it. Without hesitation, Nora agreed to my wishes.
So the land was purchased. We had walked the property many times before purchasing it and also very shortly after it became ours a few more walks were taken. A few weeks passed and it was a nice late spring day. I decided to load up Huck and Millie and take a trip down to “Jake” to stretch our legs on the property. It was during that walk that something indescribable happened. I cannot come up with the words to describe what happened, but when it was time to head back home, not only did the idea of living there seem feasible to me, it seemed like it was unavoidable. As I climbed into the truck and shut the door, I called Nora to describe what had just happened and there was silence. The good kind! Some of you may think I went off my rocker, but I tell you this with an honest heart and mind, I believe Russell and June spoke to me that afternoon.
The days and weeks after that, just the mention of Jacobsville put the most beautiful glow on Nora’s face and sparkle in her eyes. It is all such good medicine.
As the summer progressed, there were some mentions of perhaps stopping in at her grandparents place, just to introduce ourselves and maybe get to know our future neighbors a bit. That gradually transpired to maybe even casually mentioning that if they ever had thoughts of selling their place, Nora and I would be interested buyers. They are actually the folks that bought the home from Nora’s grandmother (grandfather had passed) when she felt it was time to get a little closer to civilization due to her age. Nora did not feel too comfortable about being along with me on that mission, so one evening late last autumn, when we were all down in the area for a bonfire at some friends that live nearby, I dropped Nora and Grace off at the bonfire and then went to pay a quick visit to the current owners.
They were initially a little freaked out by a TOTAL stranger suddenly appearing at their door, but I introduced myself and included that Nora was the Granddaughter of June Bergh and suddenly all apprehension went away. We talked for longer than I thought we would, they were very sweet and it was clear that they were in love with where they were living. None the less, I left them my contact info and said that if they were to ever change their minds, Nora and I would be honored to be given the first chance to try and strike a deal with them.
Most of the winter passed and the idea of living in Nora’s grandparents place found it’s way into our thoughts and conversations quite bit, but in the manner of “if it’s to happen, then it will”. We figured we were at least a few years away from building anything anyway. Then about a month and a half ago, I came home to a message on our answering machine from the owners. It was not detailed in the way of saying they were ready to sell, but that they were hoping we still remembered them from our meeting last autumn and that they would like for us to give them a call when we had a chance.
The rest as they say is history. We have been down to visit them at least a half dozen times in the last 6-7 weeks and have built a wonderful relationship. I guess you could say we all have adopted each other. There is no closing or move-in date. However, the most likely scenario for all of that will be towards the second half or end of summer. That is good, as we have a lot of work to do to take this place from lived in-condition to showing condition. There is also a tremendous amount of things to pack, give away and discard, as we all thought we would be living here the rest of our lives and when we passed, all of those things would become someone else’s problem!
The home is also considerably smaller than what we are in right now, so not all of the items in our current place will be making the move with us. The thought of downsizing is very attractive to both Nora and I. As much as I love this place, I have realized I am more of a “cabin in the woods” or “Little House on the Prairie” type of person.
We have not listed our house for sale yet. As mentioned, we still have some things to do before we feel it will be ready to show. We have spread the word to some folks we know up here (mostly co-workers of Nora) that might have some interest and are going to give them a chance to look at it and decide if they are interested in making an offer before we work with a realtor. I did put together a one page flier on the home and even put an asking price on the flier. I really have no idea what a realtor will think is a good asking price, but both Nora and I did research prices of other places up here with similar square footage and acreage and feel we are in the ballpark.
So there you have it. The big news and new chapter in the life of the Dee’s!
Good night from the Keweenaw..