Treeline Blessings

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Photo by  Byron Johnson  on  Unsplash

Photo by Byron Johnson on Unsplash


We’ve heard it a few times since we’ve been here ... the rangy, whooping call of the elk. Atlanta is the “Elk Capital of Michigan” after all, so we expected, even in this languid summer season, to at least hear, if not see, the regal beings who roam these gentle northern highlands.

I never gave elk much thought, being from Ohio where we don’t have any, until last fall when, on a camping trip to Benezette, the “Elk Capital of Pennsylvania” in the equally gentle highlands of the Alleghenies, I actually saw some in the wild. At dusk they’d venture out from their forest cover into open fields to forage. They’d seemingly materialize--never prosaically walk--out of the treeline. The males’ heads supporting massive, fearsome-looking scaffolding held unfalteringly aloft. Necks broad with the thick muscles necessary for doing so. Eyes always focused on the distance, unconcerned with the mere ground beneath their hooves. Nature’s royalty certainly, if Nature had such a concept. It felt like an honor, the bestowal of a blessing, to witness them.

Elk are a big part of why OCH is here, in Atlanta, Michigan. A regal timber frame porch addition--a structure worthy of viewing the elk across an expansive open view--is now in the infancy of its construction. Perched on high ground, overlooking a former golf-course converted to a wildlife/hunting preserve, the frame will be an homage to the elk, made of the only material, really, that could do them justice; timbers from the very trees they spend their lives roaming amongst. Tall, straight pine, seeping red sap when felled, is piling up alongside the sawmill outfitted with its extension. These timbers will be thick--equal to the task of holding their own massive scaffolding unfalteringly aloft, allowing the eyes of those within to focus on the distance, scanning the treeline for a blessing.