Sunday, November 04, 2007


I was never the kind of kid who dressed as a bride and fantasized about getting married and having a husband and kids (well, at least not the husband part). Blame feminism. Blame divorce. Whatever it was, I just never got into the whole parading down the aisle thing. Well, never, except for that one time.

I was thirteen years old. My dad and step-mom used to take me up to the North Shore every summer for a week in a cabin on Lake Superior. We played a lot of board games, cooked homemade food, and drove up and down the shore looking for good hikes. We picked fresh raspberries and saw the witch tree, and then every year, we'd take part in some kind of indoor/cultural activity, too. There was a little play house in Grand Marais, we'd sometimes attend.

One year, my dad took us out to dinner at the Naniboujou Lodge up past Grand Marais. I fell in love the minute I walked in the door. It could have been the immense rock fireplace (the largest in Minnesota) with elaborate natural stone designs, but, since I'm not really a subtle person, I'm thinking it was probably the brightly painted walls and ceiling. They are decorated in rich primary colors with Cree Indian designs. After a lifetime of white walls and subtle trim colors, the effect blew me away. I couldn't believe that this abundance of color hid behind the sedate exterior of the place. There was a hush in the dining room. People talked, but, at least to my teenage ears, it seemed that they spoke with reverence. They were in the presence of great and unusual beauty. These were people who survived the grayest months of winter, so they knew how sacred it was to spend even one meal basking under vividly saturated walls.

I toured the rest of the public spaces of the Lodge. I discovered the "solarium" with the immediate infatuation of a dedicated reader. I longed to stay there instead of our simple cabin, spending my week next to the warmth of the fireplace and those improbable walls. I would have been reluctant to leave even for hikes and excursions to Witch Trees or Canada. I decided, since I knew it was too expensive for just a regular summer week, that someday, I'd get married at the Naniboujou, and when I did I'd spend one perfectly happy week in my own personal temple to beauty.

Anyway, this weekend I finally did get to attend a wedding there, even if it wasn't my own, and I did get to square dance under that fantastic ceiling, even if I didn't have a partner to swing round and round. I also finally lived my dream of sleeping at the Naniboujou, in a single bed, granted, across the room from Fern's single bed, and the bed totally sucked, even for a single bed. But I did wake up the next morning and drag my book down to the solarium for some quality time before I ate my final breakfast under a resplendent ceiling.