From early spring through summer and into fall, I have been busy. It’s been mostly a good thing. My cheese booth at the Goshen Farmers Market continues to thrive. I have baking to do and no shortage of hobbies to work on. But through it all runs a permanent background noise. Sometimes I listen to it more than I should and find myself being pulled down into a pool of words. The virus plays a part in this noise as do the political discussions and points of view. When the election was upon us, and now as the virus spikes, the low hum grew into a troubling buzz. I truly need a viable escape.

I start searching for a place to go and I find one. Jim and I reserve a cottage on the near tip of Leelanau peninsula for the first week of November. Only later do we realize that the timing couldn’t have been better. We will be gone during the election and the cottage has no Wifi or TV.

Our drive north takes us through gusty winds and bands of snow with the last half hour on ice and slush-covered roads. We zigzag over branches strewn here and there and arrive at our destination right before sunset. What a sight.

The cottage stands by itself among the grasses and nearby woods. We are the only car on the road and as we turn into the lane, park and get out, the only sound around us belongs to the wind whistling through the autumn olive shrubs and the milkweed pods. And maybe the distant hum of Lake Michigan waves crashing to the shore. Stella the dog is happy to run and sniff with no leash and no worries.

After unloading our bags, we take the short trip to the beach and watch the spectacular sunset created by this wintry weather. Later, as we walk around the cottage, the woods behind us turn fiery red as the sun leaves its last traces on its journey. As we absorb the landscape around us, we slowly rid ourselves of that other noise, soaking in the tangible sounds of nature. A tree creaks, a crow caws, the wind still whines as we take on the natural world and shed the burdens of humans.

The next day, while election looms, we walk the wooded trail, stepping over broken branches, breathing in fresh air. The sun pokes through and lights up the freshly fallen leaves making them glow. We become one with the forest and its aura. A horned owl, spooked by our arrival, stretches its wings and relocates. We listen to the scurry of small animals as we try to tread lightly on the path. The trail takes us to an overlook onto Lake Michigan where the water glistens turquoise to dark blue. The only noise now is that steady sound of waves coming and going.

One night, Jim builds a bonfire in the fire pit and as the flames rise, dusk falls. We sit in the dark watching the stars slowly appear, we hear a yip, then a yap, then a chorus of howls. Across the road, the coyotes are happy. Stella perks up her ears but doesn’t stir. Out here, the human silence is deafening. And the natural world is glad to take over. We breathe in, breathe out. We unplug and recharge. We leave that other noise behind

At the end of the week, we return to the duties and work that call but the last thing we glimpse on the road is a rainbow cloud. We take it as an omen of hope as we drive home, renewed. Sometimes, one has to leave the noise behind.

La Bonne Vie’s Rachel Shenk has been an artisan baker for 30 years. Born and raised in Belgium, she has lived in Goshen since 1973. She has been writing about food, traveling and the good life for about 10 years. You can connect with her on her Facebook page, La Bonne Vie, or at her cheese shop in Goshen, The Wedge.

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