It doesn’t actually feel like spring in the Northland, but the first oceangoing vessel of the 2022 maritime shipping season arrived April 15th in the Port of Duluth-Superior after completing the season’s first full transit of the St. Lawrence Seaway en route to the Great Lakes’ westernmost port. The journey for the salty, Resko, originated in Ijmuiden, Netherlands. I missed the welcome ceremony but watched an ice-breaker working to open the water around the port just two weeks ago. The beginning of the shipping season.

Last month, I introduced Charlie and Caroline, main characters in my novel Finding Grace. I shared an excerpt of Charlie’s marriage proposal in a bird blind in Kearney Nebraska. This month, I’ll take you to their next stop—the beginning of their married life.

“Is this Mrs. Booker?” Charlie called her excitedly with the news. 

“This is Caroline Tate Booker. Who’s calling please?” She laughed with him as they both loved to hear the sound of their married names. “I miss you! How’s it going?”

“It’s done, they accepted our offer on the house.” He could hear her scream in delight. “And, they brought the price down based on our agreement to replace the windows, and furnace. So, I figure we can swing the financing with our new salaries and replace the furnace right away, and then wait a year or so on the windows.”

Charlie had found the perfect lake front house for them on the Scenic Highway between Duluth and Two Harbors. The older couple had built it themselves forty years ago, and it was in need of some upgrades, but the location was all they had dreamed of since they accepted positions in the northland.

Caroline had said “As long as we are near one of the Great Lakes, let’s get as close as we can get.” And Charles complied. He had traveled out twice to get the job done.

A week later the furnace was installed and he was on hand to accept their meager belongings from Iowa. When she arrived, he had flowers on the kitchen table and a big red bow on the tree outside the house. But it was the lakeshore that drew her.

“Charlie, I can’t believe you got us such a great spot!” Caroline ran the length of the shoreline and scanned the lake, her hair whipping in the wind. “It’s beautiful!”

He joined her at the edge of the yard where the high weeds bordered the rocks leading to the lake. “Yes, it is. And, the lake changes constantly. I’ve yet to see two days in a row where it appears to be the same color.” He pointed south. “There’s Duluth—most nights you can see the lights from the city. On the horizon straight across from us, Wisconsin.” He pointed again. “Sunrise direction.”

“I love it. We need to get some of those classic Adirondack chairs so we can sit out here and watch the water everyday! Maybe right here?” She gestured to a spot that provided a perfect view and was somewhat protected from the wind by a stand of fir trees at the northern border of the property.

Charlie felt his face bloom into a wide smile. He had hoped for this response, but hadn’t been sure she would be this enthusiastic. “Yes, of course we will Caroline—and now, let’s go show you the house.”

He gave a short guided tour that quickly ended in the bedroom and they spent their first afternoon as home-owners making it their own.

This excerpt from Chapter Three exudes happiness and hope.  One could say it was a propitious beginning for the unlikely pair. So, what happens next?