Summer is coming, and of course my mind wanders north of the 45th parallel. Soul food! That's where my head is. No, not catfish! Not that kind of soul food. The kind that nourishes, and refreshes your spirit! Where exactly north of the 45th am I? Cheboygan, Michigan. Cheyboygan is the "Big City", if you ever find yourself in the "Tip of the Mitt". But for those of us who are trapped in suburban sprawl, it's a small town getaway.
Along Main Street is a bookstore. It doesn't have a Starbucks in it. It's not home to a children's section with a jungle gym and puppet theater. If they don't have a book, they can't check stock online to see if the store in Petosky has a copy, because there is no store in Petosky! It's small, and independently owned. What is does have are creaky old floors and bookshelves assembled in a garage or basement. It has tin ceilings painted white, and a clerk behind the counter who can tell a townie from a snowbird or tourist. Whenever I am out of town I try to pick up a book on the history of the area, or the novel of a local author. I'll putz around for an hour or so, people watching, and browsing the shelves. But I've only whet my appetite. I'm still hungry!
I cross the street (jaywalk!) and head down a couple of blocks to the local ice cream shop. Wire chairs with hearts covered in red vinyl on the back are arranged around tables. The theme is pink and white throughout. Waiting behind a weary family who has just come in from a day on the boat gives me time to contemplate my choices. Superman? No, I had that last time. Traverse City Cherry? Naw! Too sweet. Beartracks!!! I'm up north, I should get Beartracks! I finally decide on an old standby, Mint Chocolate Chip. You can never go wrong with Mint Chocolate Chip! If I'm with the rest of my family, I'll take a taste of everyone's cone just to confirm my choice. Yes. I had made the right decision! My soul is grinning!!
I head back out and cross the street. My destination? A bench on the edge of the river. Book in hand. Ice cream cone dripping down my chin, (I knew I should have grabbed a few more napkins) I find an open bench in the late afternoon sun of a July afternoon. I plant myself, taking in the sights and sounds of boaters coming in after a day out on Lake Huron. I wave. They wave. I take my flip flops off so that I can feel the cool grass beneath my feet. The sound of the water lapping against the dock mixes with the distant sounds of traffic on Main. My appetite has been satisfied! This, my friends, is soul food!