Grand Marais, MN – August 12, 2012
Chris picked me up hitch-hiking outside Grand Portage a few weeks ago when I was on my way to South Bend. I had a day to spend in Grand Marais before I caught a ride down to the bus station in Duluth.
“Where are you staying?” he asked.
“Well,” I said, “a woman named Monica who lives down near the harbor offered to put me up.”
“No way,” he said. “Monica? She’s one of my best friends. I was just swimming in the harbor with her last night!”
I thought it was just a random coincidence, the kind that makes people say, “small world,” and nod to each other, but I was wrong. Monica met me at her door, immediately talked me into jumping in the harbor, and introduced me to half the people we passed on the street.
She knew the ranger who was holding my boat for me in Grand Portage and introduced me to Rolf. When we went to the dairy farm to get milk, she knew the farmer’s kids by name and we talked to the owners past sunset about cows, wolves, milk, butter, and cream. It took an hour to buy a pepper at the local co-op because she said hi to everyone.
“You’re still here?” the manager said as I wandered around the aisles.
I pointed to Monica talking to someone and he just laughed and smiled.
Same thing at the hardware store, the donut shop, and the frozen custard place. Every time we went anywhere in town, she smiled and waved hello to someone she knew. Old, young, men, women, kids, everyone, even a dog.
She brought Grand Marais to life, let me peek into the weave of the community through her vibrant strand, turned blank faces on the street into stories and lives. Being around her makes you realize how many people you pass by every day and never notice. You drop your head down and look away, you hide behind a pair of headphones or a newspaper. You never stop and ask how someone’s doing, never remember their name, never find out a bit about their story.
The world is a beautiful place when you stop to look. It’s as bright as you make it. For Monica, it glows.