Perhaps it is the fact that school is getting out past the high noon of June and I am not yet living in summer. Or maybe it’s because I don’t want to believe that the air quality in Michigan is getting poorer — reminding me of the air quality warnings I would hear as a child, visiting family in Los Angeles. Already, prematurely. Whether this weather comes too soon in the season or too soon in history, here is a truth about Beaver Island air:
It has only recently lost the regal scent of lilacs. (For whatever sad reason, it was this, my seventh spring on Beaver Island, that I finally! noticed the prevalence of lilacs here. They. Are. Everywhere.)
I got over my surprise at the air quality alert and found a sense of alarm following it. It is June 11th. There are many hot and humid days left to be had in this Great Lakes state and millions of out-of-state cars en route over the remainder of the year. Not cool.
The only air quality troubles I can recall from my youth are those which arose when a neighbor might decide to burn a mountain of leaves in the fall. Even then, there were just a few people in the neighborhood who needed to be concerned about it because of respiratory problems. Today, the neighborhood is a whole region, the neighbor is mother nature, the leaves are particulates, and we are all the asthmatics. Yikes.
Here’s another truth about Beaver Island air:
It is always fresh. I don’t know much about how weather works, but I know that Lake Michigan constantly breathes streams of clean air into the island. The leaves on those lilacs never cease to flutter and wave.
Living here full time can cause one to take the clean air for granted. After any off-island trip, the purity of the air on Beaver Island stands out again. I dare say even the sanctity of the air. Moss and cedar forests, junipers and wild blueberries, the incense of peeling birch bark, sand the scent of sun. It is a rich air — a soup of tendrils and puddles and boughs, full of their perfumes. It may seem that I am being dramatic, but if you walk the Keebler Trail, nap at Donegal Bay, listen at Miller’s Marsh, you will find that the air quality is dramatically different. The island makes it easy to describe it in this way simply because of what it is: Separate. Set aside. Reserved. Clean.
And the only air quality alert I would give you: The quaint, meandering roads will be dusty.