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Good Harbor Bay, Michigan: An Essay for Ann Carr's Hocus-Pocus Challenge

Chris enjoys photographing the places he visits. He shares these photos as travel articles and also mixes them with creative writing.

Ann Carr's Challenge to Write About Our Favorite Beach

This is my response to Ann Carr's challenge which she states in the following way:

I want to pass the baton with a challenge of my own.

Do you have a favourite beach? One you know, or one in your imagination? Write about it! Describe like you’ve never described before! Use unusual vocabulary! Make us see every detail in the landscape!

Prose, poem, fiction or reality, let’s hear about it in a way which makes us want to visit or which fires up our imagination.

Find Ann's challenge and poem at Ann's Challenge


Good Harbor Bay, Michigan

Spring breaks out a whole new wardrobe for the forest and beach, the siblings of mighty Lake Michigan. Trillium carpet the forest floor, and dune grass flourishes halfway between the trees and water. The lake changes its own appearance by reflecting the boundless sky. Wispy clouds surf by on high pressure following low. The steady breeze sends whitecaps to crash onto the beach and run up toward the forest.

A common tern, migrating through, hovers over the waves of Good Harbor Bay then drops like an arrow into the roiling waters to catch a fish. A bald eagle soars on a current hundreds of feet above, watching for movement on land or in the water.

Common Tern Hovering Before Diving for a Fish


A whitetail deer steps cautiously out of the trees onto the wide beach. A day old fawn clambers behind her on stilt-like legs. They approach a pool of water separated from the lake by a mound of wind-driven sand.

A man and woman sit on a blanket and watch the sunrise until it begins to warm the chilly morning air. They rise as well and walk hand in hand along the beach. The woman bends down and plucks a stone from the sand where the waves have just delivered it. The surface tells the story of the stone’s long history.

A Polished Petoskey Stone

Six-sided polygons, fitted perfectly together, side touching side, were once cavities in which lived tiny polyps, the builders of coral. Through the years, the holes filled in with minerals and went through the process fossilization. The result was Hexagonaria percarinata or Petoskey Stone, the state stone of Michigan.

The story of the naming of the stone tells about a French fur trader who married an Odawa princess. They conceived a son and named the boy, Petosegay, which means rays of the rising sun, because of the rays of sun that shined on the newborn’s face.


Petosegay became the chief of his people. It is said that he carried one of these stones in his pocket until, after many years, it was polished as he rubbed it with his fingers. The stone took on the name of Chief Petosegay, anglicized as Petoskey. A close look at one of the hexagons on the stone reveals a circle with lines emanating outward like rays of the sun, the very meaning of Chief Petoskey’s name. Petoskey stones can be found on the beach of Good Harbor Bay and on other beaches within a fifty-mile radius of the town of Petoskey, Michigan, which was named after the Chief as well.

But to the man and woman on the beach, it is simply a beautiful stone. They continue their walk along Good Harbor Bay as the rays of dawn shine down upon them.

Memorial Marker for Chief Petosega (Petoskey) in the city of Petoskey, Michigan

Scenes of Good Harbor Bay

Looking across Good Harbor Bay at the Whaleback near Leland, Michigan

Looking across Good Harbor Bay at the Whaleback near Leland, Michigan

My son, Dan doing a flip down the dune face overlooking Good Harbor Bay.

My son, Dan doing a flip down the dune face overlooking Good Harbor Bay.

© 2018 Chris Mills


manatita44 from london on June 17, 2018:

Strong or keen sense of observation. A pretty lucid way of telling your story and a tribute to Ann's request. Well done!

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 14, 2018:

Get to the lake, Kierstin, writing can wait. I miss those summer evenings with a beach fire and a late night swim. Thanks for stopping by.

Kierstin Gunsberg from Traverse City, Michigan on June 14, 2018:

Chris, you've really captured our beautiful area! Now I wish I were on the lake this evening and not writing...

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 14, 2018:

Shauna, that dune is part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Leelanau County, Michigan. It is part of the National Park system. That particular dune is 450 feet above the water. If a person runs down, it is a long climb back up in sand.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 14, 2018:

Eric, Your smiling face is welcome to my hubs as often as you want to visit. It's good for the pageviews too. :)

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 14, 2018:

Ann, this really is my family's favorite beach. It has been since my boys were born. They grew up going to this beach. We have buckets of Petoskey stones in our garage.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 14, 2018:

Your story paints a picture of serenity and beauty, Chris.

That's a mighty big dune your son's flipping down! At first glance it looks like rock. How far below is the water?

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 14, 2018:

I suppose I did not take notes the first time Chris. I had to come back to enjoy this again.

Ann Carr from SW England on June 14, 2018:

Lovely, Chris. Such beautiful photos and I love the Petoskey story. We love to find unusual stones on the beach and pieces of driftwood which suggest a creature or face. You've captured the atmosphere of these places and I can tell you love this place.

Thank you for creating such a wonderful response to my challenge, Chris.


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 13, 2018:

Whatever tickles your love, Eric. Of course, beaches are sexy. That's why they go so well with sunsets and beach fires.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 13, 2018:

So cool. Can a description of a beach thingy hocus pocus be sexy? The carress of the in an out waves tickle my love. Just saying.

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