Cari Peterson fell in love with travel as a young girl. “My dad was a car dealer,” she says, “so he would win trips and our family got to go places.” Cari is still going places—but mostly she helps other people plan their trips.
As a corporate agent for Passageways Travel in Traverse City, Cari handles business travel. “People know what they want,” she says. “Usually the best deal but they won’t reroute themselves just to save a couple hundred dollars. They’d rather be home for their kid’s soccer game.” Cari has been in the travel business for almost 30 years and has seen a lot of changes. “The biggest shift was after 9/11,” she says. “Security is much tighter. People stopped flying but now it’s busier than ever.”
“Yes, you can buy tickets on-line,” Cari says, “but you have to pay close attention—and it’s harder to make changes.” The airlines don’t give refunds with a doctor’s notice anymore. “You have to be the one who died,” she jokes.
In addition to the travel perks, Cari loves the challenge. “Sometimes I don’t even know where a place is—but if someone wants to travel there, I have to figure it out. It’s fun.”
On a sunny river bank, a deer is sleeping—but when our canoe glides past, she leaps up and bounds into the woods. We pose no threat to the deer, but she doesn’t know that. So, she has to be afraid of everything in order to be afraid of the right things.
As I pick up my paddle, I think of how much of my own life I’ve been afraid—mostly of the wrong things. Afraid of things that never happened or weren’t as bad as I feared. Or afraid of things that turned out to be wonderful.
As a child, Carrie Leaureax overheard her grandparents speak the language of her Anishinaabe (Native American) culture. “Anishinaabemowin was forbidden at the Indian boarding schools,” she says, “so it was not passed down. And I wondered, if I don’t learn, who will teach my children?”
Today, Carrie is the Anishinaabemowin Program Director and Language Instructor for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. “The language contains many of our teachings,” she explains, “To help us reconnect with our identity and values.” For example, the Native word “akidiwin” (ah-KID-win) means not only “word” but tells a story. “It reminds us that before we speak, we must draw up energy from Mother Earth,” she says, “Be careful of the way we use words.”
Carrie not only teaches language to Anishinaabe students but also responds to requests from non-Native groups who seek to learn more about her culture. “I want to promote awareness and bring information from the Native American perspective,” she says.
As for progress, Carrie takes a long view. “We must heal ourselves as individuals,” she says, “and leave the rest in the Creator’s hands. My heart was happy when I heard my daughter using the language with her children.”
We have an ancient Catalpa tree in our back yard which likely predates our old house and certainly predates the Norway Spruces with whom it shares space. Every year my husband and I have a conversation about the Catalpa, about whether we should cut it down.
Patches of bark have fallen off, many of its branches are dead, and each season it produces fewer leaves. My husband is in favor of removing the tree, fearing it may fall on the neighbor’s house and I share his fear. But not enough to take action, not yet.
The old tree still provides valuable shade in the summer and offers a scratching post and happy perch for our cats. It seems to me that the Catalpa has earned its right to be here. I also feel a certain kinship with this fellow creature. I, too, am past my prime. Bark is falling off and branches dying. I am trying to not fall down and hurt anyone.
And I seek to provide some kind of service to justify my continuing presence. Not crowding out new growth with my shade, but offering shelter from heat and rain. Something to lean on.
“I had a deep interest in history from Day One,” Fel Brunett says. “I was born in the house my great-grandfather built in 1881.” Fel still lives in that house—not far from Fife Lake where he is Curator of the Historical Museum.
Walking through the Museum, Fel points out an old ballot box with its sealing wax. “They took to Traverse City for the official count,” he says. Other showcases feature cranberry harvesting equipment, blacksmith bellows, sawmill blades, and a local still from Prohibition.