Saturday, March 31, 4-5 p.m.
Sunshine and blue skies have returned after a couple of gloomy, cold days. Yesterday was spitting a mix of rain and snow, leaving lingering snow in the woods among the spring-new, bright green wild leeks, and this morning looked like more of the same, but the weak sun struggled and struggled until it finally won the day. Wind still blows, and the air is still cold, but certain sunny, sheltered spots out of the wind are almost warm.
At the highest point of Kolarik Road, St. Wenceslaus church and adjacent cemetery are still surrounded by working farms. Unlike the diversified agriculture of a hundred years ago, most of the farms these days are now in fruit trees. From the front door of the church, one can look west past orchards onto north Lake Leelanau below and, behind it, Lake Michigan.
It is peaceful in the cemetery. A few patches of bare ground have fresh grass seed scattered neatly on the dirt, and underneath an old cedar back by the parish hall bright blue vinca flowers have opened wide.
Markers for graves vary from the simplest imaginable to the very elaborate. Among the simple ones are bare crosses formed of a pair of pipes that look to have come from a plumbing supply store. There is also at least one cross fashioned of nothing more than two flat, unpainted boards. Then come the monuments of carved stone, from the very old to the new, polished and even illustrated, many of the oldest stones host to lichens in various subtle shades. The markers most distinctive to St. Wenceslaus are ornate filigree iron crosses made by the early Bohemian iron workers who settled here to work in Leland and Gill’s Pier. Many families have placed plastic flowers on relatives’ graves. Some of these are new and bright, others very faded by a long winter outdoors.
From the north comes the cry of a distant gull. Fields have been freshly tilled today, and the gulls are attracted to the resulting buffet. In a tall, still-leafless tree a red squirrel scolds angrily. Everyone else here is very quiet.