where the writers are
Memories of Sunrise

The little hill obscured by vegetation at the center of this photo is a kame.

The small conical hills dot the landscape of northern Kettle Moraine. They are the result of melting glaciers. As the Ice Age receded, holes formed in the surface of the glaciers and sediment was carried down through the ice by meltwater.

This particular kame is known as White Kame and is located in Dundee, in northern Kettle Moraine. 

This weekend, as I drove in northern kettle Morain, I had to stop and photograph this hill.

This hill was formed thousands of years ago, in the last Ice Age, and discovered by friends and I more than thirty years ago.

Back then, I organized an annual hike on one of the first weekends of each October, called the Sunrise Hike. On the first hike (and there were many Sunrise Hikes over the years, perhaps 20 or so), we left Milwaukee at four in the morning, watched the sunrise from a hill near Mauthe Lake State Park and then, driving around looking for something to do, found this hill. On our maps, the small hill was called Gumdrop Kame. I like that better than White Kame. 

It had smaller trees three decades ago. We climbed it, though we had to slog through a marsh to reach it. At the top, we enjoyed the view, opened the bottles of wine we had brought, tore off pieces of bread, whittled thin slices of cheese and apples and sat in the glorious sun.

Then someone grabbed a long rope – I think it was Dan, mostly because one might have expected to find ropes alongside the assorted tools and beer bottles and other debris which accumulated in his cars back then the way driftwood and shells settle on a beach –  and slung it over a thick, low branch on the tree that sits highest on the hill, a bit to the right of center in this photo. We fashioned a swing from the rope and then Bruce and Dan and then even the least adventurous among us took turns running off the hillside and swinging out into open air, exhilarated by life itself.

We’d hike later in the day, stomping along the Ice Age Trail, revelling in the last waning days of the summer heat.

If you remember all that, if you were there that day , then you were one of the originals. Dan, Bruce, Judy, Paula, Jayne, Jeff, Terri. Laura? Ed? Tim? Donna? Others I don’t even remember right now. If you remember all that, then you are one of the originals and you are an old son of a gun.

If you were there on that hike or on any of the ones that followed, at Mauthe Lake or the shores of Lake Michigan or wherever else we gathered to watch the sun rise on crisp October morns, then I hope the memories of those days make you smile all these years later.

For if you were one of those there that day you should know that I thought of you today - and I smiled.

And you should know, too, that I am eternally grateful that you walked along with me - if even for one bright morning years ago.