Grass River Nature Preserve

_MG_1759On good boating days there is nothing we love more than piling in the ski boat and making the short, 15 minute ride to Grass River.  We kill the wake and drift slowly down the river, keeping our eyes peeled for all the creatures that call this magical place home.  On our first trip to the nature preserve we saw two loons no more than 15 feet from the boat, a pair of swans with a trail of fluffy little babes, and a turtle sunning himself on a log.  My dad bought the boys little fishing nets and they troll off the bow of the boat for minnows, surprising us all by catching a few every now and then.  Blind luck, I suppose!


_MG_1766Spending our summers in Northern Michigan is one of the biggest gifts I am able to give my children.  It is that quintessential summer of running wild and free, catching frogs and minnows, biking up and down the dirt road with a whole pack of kids, coming home only for a quick bite to eat then back out to play and explore.  My kids get “unsupervised” play here, and by that I mean I don’t have to watch their every move.  On the rare occasion a car comes down, it is traveling no more than 5 miles an hour, and from the kitchen, I can look out and see them at play.  Every now and then I have to intervene and wipe away a tear, or mediate a dispute over scooters, but other than that, the kids get to PLAY and learn to work things out with both older and younger playmates.  I think it is the best thing ever.


_MG_1763On rainy days, we can still head to Grass River and spend time in the nature center visiting the rescue snake, and playing around with the pelts and bones they have collected over time.  It is a very cool place, and if you’re in the area with young kids who are nature lovers, it is an absolute must.  As we’re here enjoying all of this I can’t help but wonder if I would be as enamored with the area if we lived here year round.  I wonder what the winters would be like, and if eventually, it would feel just like any other place.  Would it lose its summertime magic?  I’d love to hear from any Northern Michigan readers- what is year-round life like here?  I’m really feeling a pull.



Your thoughts on “Grass River Nature Preserve

  1. I feel the same about Deep Creek, Maryland. Would I want to retire here? Eventually buy a place here? A long week never feels like enough. I used to live in Nantucket, and I would move there in a heartbeat, but as you probably know, that’s a choice one can’t just make for a growing family. If I won the lottery, then yes, I’d be able to buy a cottage! For now, Indianapolis is the perfect fit for us, but sometimes my mind wanders elsewhere…

  2. Traverse City born and raised here 🙂 oh man, the winter!! Long and cold, but if you like something outdoorsy-like snowshoeing (we love to snowshoe) and something indoorsy -like being crafty-then you can get through. This past winter made me feel like never spending another winter here again! There was so much snow that eventually we had no where to put it-shoveling the walk/driveway? well, good luck putting it somewhere. It was so cold that they told us several days not to go outside for more than 10 minutes at a time or we would be frost bitten! But think, snow flakes, sledding, hot coco, snowshoeing, flannel and plaid, mittens and hats and snow days!…it is all very wonderlandish and totally worth the winter when you think about July!

  3. oh. oooooh my! thank you, thank you, for giving us these peeks at a MI i never knew existed… i can honestly say i feel like i’ve been a true New England snob reading these posts! i might need a lake visit one of these summers!!

  4. I grew up in Upper Michigan and I can’t think if a better place to spend my childhood. My parents, however, were exhausted by the winters and isolation (they were floridians). Your New England life has prepared you for Michigan winters and I think, as an adult, you could find the magic all the time if that’s why you want to be there full-time.

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