My sojourn to Door County was filled with wonders. Seeing a great lake for the first time was awesome, but other aspects affected me just as much — the phenomenal beauty of the place, the frequent artistic touches, the prevalence of water.
Then there were the more personal wonders that added to my overall enjoyment of the peninsula — a hike along my host’s own trails around his wooded property (accompanied by his canine friend Rudy), driving his tractor (a first for me!), and meeting his lovely wife.
The best part of the journey, though, was my host himself.
I met John Beck at a now defunct social networking site called Gather, and though we’d been online friends for many years, this was the first time I met him in person. He has such a lively intelligence and wide-ranging interests that talking to him is a real joy. Learning, especially astronomy, seems to be a passion of his. He set up his telescope for me and introduced me to Jupiter. What a thrill to see Jupiter’s bands and four moons! He is also very knowledgeable about earthly places, especially Door County, which, along with his boundless patience, made him a perfect tour guide.
A second-generation doctor in Door County, John is now retired, but he was the Norman Rockwell sort of doctor we all yearn for but no longer can find. For example, when a woman went into labor after a major snowstorm, John not only went to her house and plowed their driveway, but plowed the road all the way to the hospital with the woman and her husband following in his wake. Such dedication!
He’s generous, donating his time to local environmental causes, teaching classes at the Learning in Retirement Center, and even carving a right-of-way through his property when a neighbor lost his previous way into the nearby property.
In a political season where prominent folks are going to grotesque and voluble lengths to try to convince us of their worth, it was my privilege to meet this quietly remarkable man.
(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)
Note: The whimsical photos of the fish and the man climbing into a cave were taken at the Learning in Retirement Center.