North Shore Life: What’s it Really Like? | August

Since moving to Minnesota’s North Shore I’ve had people ask what it’s really like to live here year-round. In this month-by-month journal, I take you through the full year to give you a glimpse of What it’s Really Like.

Natalie Babbitt wrote in Tuck Everlasting that the first week of August “hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat in a Ferris Wheel when it pauses at its turning.” When thinking of what to write about for August entry, my mind kept coming back to the idea of stillness.

This month has been remarkably quiet, with stillness in every surrounding:

The stillness of the heat that lingers on late into the night. The stillness of the lakes enshrouded in morning haze and smoke. The stillness of major events and travels having passed. Of soaking in the late summer sun on the beach. Of knowing that the world outside and in is about to change so soon, but it’s just not quite there yet.

Palisade Head evening

The warm, dry days have beckoned us onto the trails and into the woods. While June and July kept us surprisingly busy, August allowed us to pull out the tent and spend some quality overnight time in the forest. We explored a new section of the Superior Hiking Trail, and I am in continued awe of Minnesota’s rugged palisades. When nature provides her dramatic touch of mist, you can almost imagine you’ve landed in Narnia or Middle-earth or some other enchanted place.

Moving to Minnesota's North Shore
Atop Mt. Josephine, Grand Portage

I am, however, constantly reminded of the fragility of these enchanted places. The second half of this summer proved increasingly dry, and there were a handful of campfires in the area that got out of hand. Thankfully none of the cases resulted in extensive damage, but our red sun and smoky air (due to wildfires in Canada) remind us daily of how quickly things can get out out of control. The smoke in our skies was so bad that for over a week mid-August we couldn’t see Lake Superior at all. And while on our camping trip I had on a headlamp, and was shocked when its light revealed forest air as dusty as an abandoned attic.

Smoky sunrise on the beaver pond

In these latter weeks, though, we have been blessed with rain and the chance to breathe freely again. The plants have rejoiced and become lush again. Some of our rose bushes have put out fresh blooms, while others are laden with plump rosehips ready for harvesting.

Duluth Rose Gardens

Something about summer feels so permanent while you’re in it, and the gentle hum of late summer makes winter feel another life apart. It’s a slowing sort of magic, and I’m not ready to cast it aside just yet.

August had not even passed when my social media feed began to fill with nods to autumn and pumpkin spice fanaticism. I enjoy autumn as much as the next person, but we’re just not there yet. I see the lush green world around me, and make note of its message to not merely rush into the next thing because a calendar says I should. We all have enough rushing about as it is, and I’m holding close to August’s message of stillness and lingering.

Nature’s artwork

I’ll keep this a short and sweet post since I don’t see a need to wax poetic on ideas like stillness and simplicity. In the meantime, soak in the last of these long days and warm nights.

And until the leaves change and the frost comes, please keep your pumpkin spice away from my margaritas. <3


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