I’ve been thinking a lot about the region where I went to school. My husband and his longtime friend have been there for the past few days. It’s in the Keweenaw Peninsula in the northern part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
The region juts into Lake Superior. It’s hilly, wild, loaded with waterfalls, and has a beautiful old growth forest that I found haunting (in the best of ways). It’s one of the best places in the country to see the trees change color in the fall. I could go on and on with this list but you get the idea. It’s paradise.
One of my favorite activities was driving along roads US 41 and M26 between Hancock and Copper Harbor. Aside from the breathtaking views, one of the unusual must-stop spots is a place called The Jampot, outside of Eagle Harbor. It’s a small shop on the side of the road that sells baked goods, confections, and jams all made and sold by Byzantine monks. (Their rum-soaked Jamaican black cake is one of my favorite things on planet Earth.)
I’ve been trying to get a better handle on what it is that draws me to the place and why I wanted to write about it. It’s snugged into a swath of trees and situated close to a waterfall. (Nature girl satisfied.) Their products are divine. (We’ve all gotta eat.) I love seeing the monks with their long beards and black robes quietly, serenely working. (Robin Hood fantasy fulfilled. Mostly.) It’s unexpected. (Byzantine monks selling fruitcake next to a waterfall in the middle of nowhere? Come on!)
Mostly, I miss the entire region so writing about it allows me to imagine I’m there again.
Another thing that’s wonderful about The Jampot and associated monastery is something I never knew until recently. While I assumed that proceeds from the store supported the monastery, I only recently learned that a big part of their mission is to promote the arts. (Honey, bring home TWO Jamaican black cakes!)
They describe beauty, whether in nature or through the creative works of humans, as a path to the divine. I completely buy into that. Knowing their attitude toward the arts will make their cake taste all the better.