In winter, our outings are mostly mission-driven: venturing out to the store to stock up on groceries, returning books to the library, braving the elements to go to yoga practice or to a monthly writers' group meeting. Summer, on the other hand, is a time for aimless wandering.
Lately, we've been taking drives through the countryside with no particular destination in mind—sometimes only for an hour or two, other times for a whole day. A couple of Sundays ago, we headed out with the vague intention of ending up somewhere around Pentwater, a lovely little village northwest of here, bordered on one side by Pentwater Lake and on another by Lake Michigan.
But we had all day, and we really cared more about along-the-way than about getting-there.
After driving through forests and rolling farmland, we came to Cherry Point Farm and Market and couldn't resist stopping. I'd heard about the farm—one of the oldest operating farms in Oceana County—and its lavender labyrinth. We could see from the road that the lavender was in bloom.
We parked and headed straight for the field where the labyrinth winds around and around a raised, circular herb garden. Labyrinths date back to ancient times and have long been used in garden designs. Unlike a maze, which offers bewildering choices of path and direction, a labyrinth typically has a single route to the center.
Many people use labyrinths for meditative walking; the spiral pattern suggests a spiritual journey or one's path in life. Lavender, with its calming scent and medicinal properties, seems a perfect fit for the design.
We didn't walk the labyrinth—my recovering foot was still in the boot, and I was avoiding uneven ground—but we did wander through the Stone Circle Herb Garden. The garden is designed in accordance with principles of sacred geometry, with a pattern of overlapping circles defining 36 herb beds. Bee balm, calendula and a full palette of other flowers were blooming, and the air was perfumed with minty-grassy-earthy scents.
The farm also hosts special events during summer--Tuesday Tea, with sweets and lavender tea, and fish boils on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings. And on Sunday mornings, Flapjacks and Fruit breakfasts. Just writing this paragraphs makes me want to go back and sample the fare at one of those gatherings.
Lunch left us satisfied, but not quite ready to leave. We strolled toward the market—where fresh cherries, cherry pie, cherry turnovers, cherry strudel, cherry jams and jellies and other goodies and gifts are sold—but we got sidetracked at the Word Garden. Scattered about the sunken rock garden are smooth stones painted with words. Visitors can arrange the word-rocks into evocative or humorous combinations.
I guess it's not surprising that the farm has a Word Garden. Cherry Point owner Barbara E. Bull spends winter months writing books—one children's book, two historical tributes to her family farm, and three novels so far. Just one more manifestation of Cherry Point's imaginative spirit.
I left there thinking about how a touch of imagination can elevate the ordinary and create something memorable. From the spiraling paths through lavender, to the serene design of the herb garden, to the lanterns on the Board Room tables, to the Word Garden, this wayside stop was a rich reward on a summer day.
Where have you found imagination at play this summer?
Cherry Point Farm and Market is at 9600 W. Buchanan Road, Shelby, Michigan, 1.5 miles south of Silver Lake on Scenic Drive (B15). Open daily from April through October. Current hours are 8am to 9pm (shorter after Labor Day).
8/2/2017 07:20:07 am
YES!! Ever since I heard about this place, I've wanted to visit. Now I really want to go more than ever!
8/2/2017 07:43:35 am
You must! But make sure you come around this time of year when it's at its peak.
8/2/2017 09:01:42 am
OMGoddess. I have to go here. Thank you for writing about this wonderful place, and describing it in such lush detail. Perfect summer day and a great outing for a creative reboot.
8/3/2017 08:08:56 am
I hope you're already planning your next visit to this part of Michigan!
8/4/2017 09:07:27 am
8/2/2017 09:59:57 am
Thankful for your talents with words and photography, Nan! I so enjoyed this little trip with you. I visited Cherry Point Farm and the labyrinth just a couple of weeks ago. You made me want to go back again! Imagination DOES elevate the ordinary. I love that insightful, imaginative thought. Thanks for HeartWood!
8/3/2017 08:10:11 am
Maybe the Wander Women should wander over that way.
8/2/2017 10:53:45 am
The Fremont Garden Club visited there a few weeks ago and I will send this on to them as as usual you did such a great job of telling about it in word and color❤️😺
8/3/2017 08:10:32 am
Thanks for passing it along, Kitty!
8/2/2017 11:54:14 am
We were just there last Saturday. This article touched on all the great things to see and eat at Cherry Point Farm and Market. Beautiful and delicious! Worth the trip!
8/3/2017 08:11:18 am
Interesting how many people are telling me they were just there or are just about to go there. Glad you made it out there.
8/2/2017 07:42:55 pm
Looks like a place I could happily visit, so since I can't, your description will do nicely. Thanks!
8/3/2017 08:12:12 am
I'm sure your gardens keep you plenty busy this time of year, but if you ever want to take a break and visit Michigan, please come our way.
8/3/2017 05:25:08 am
One of the best things in life is going on drives so I love this so much! And that you're writing about the lavender labyrinth makes it even better. I've been wanting to go and feel like I just did -- although I definitely need to do it in person.
8/3/2017 08:12:38 am
You definitely do. And will.
8/3/2017 07:54:41 pm
What a gorgeous herb farm! I'd love to visit there. I guess I'll have to add Michigan to my bucket list now.
8/4/2017 07:19:52 am
Of course, I think Michigan should be on everyone's bucket list! Be sure to let me know if you come this way, so we can meet up somewhere.
8/19/2017 04:22:38 am
I was, am, and will always be fascinated by your sharing of life, and friends in a special part of Michigan I have yet to visit. And, by golly, I swear (sometimes) that now that I'm back on my feet( sorta) I will make plans.
8/24/2017 07:16:20 am
I do hope you'll make your way over here, Fran!
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Written from the heart,
from the heart of the woods
Read the introduction to HeartWood here.
Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, a former journalist, writes memoir and personal essays, makes collages and likes to play outside. She lives in West Michigan with her husband, Ray.