Letters to Liona: Hello from Grand Rapids!

Liona is my 8-year-old niece. She lives in rural Wisconsin where I grew up, and like a lot of starry-eyed country kids, she's fascinated by cities and dreams about traveling and seeing the world. I wanted to find a way to share my journey with Liona and give her a little snapshot of what life is like in different places, so I've decided to write her a letter each month. Thought you might enjoy following along, too.


Dear Liona,

Hello from Grand Rapids! I took the picture above on the street where I'm living, on the only day that it has snowed here so far in December. The building you see is more than 100 years old, and it's a big church that has a fancy name — it's called a basilica.

Grand Rapids is a medium-sized city in Michigan (it's not very far from Wisconsin). It has some tall buildings and a big river called Grand River, which the city is named after. A fun blue bridge stretches over the river — you can see it in the distance in the sunset picture below.

I'm staying here with my friends Brooke and Tim, and their kids who are named Hazel, Gus, and Walter. Here they are, dancing on the couch and saying hi!

If you came to visit me, this is what you'd see: a gray house with a happy yellow door, and a mat that says "Hello" right when you come in.

We've been having a lot of tea parties and tasty snacks, so we would definitely invite you to join us! Hazel is a pro at tea parties.

Grand Rapids is close to Lake Michigan, a lake that's so huge, it looks a lot like the ocean. Wouldn't it be fun to take a little trip there? Even though it's wintertime and WAY too cold to go swimming, I still love going to the beach to listen to the waves and look for treasures. I know you do, too. Let's go!

Here I am at the beach, all bundled up in the freezing cold. Brrrrr!! It's so cold that even the sand is frozen solid.

This is Big Red, the lighthouse on the harbor. Its light can be seen by boats up to 20 miles away!

The walkway and guardrails are covered with icicles, and super slippery. I almost fell down when I was taking this picture! Whoops.

Here's the coolest thing I discovered at the Lake Michigan beach: sand dunes! A dune is a hill of sand built by wind or water. I found all kinds of awesome patterns that the sand had made, all shaped by the wind.

Some of the shapes even looked like little statues of people, or animals.

I think the one at the bottom of this picture looks like a leaf, and the others look like seashells. What do you see?

Thanks for coming along to the beach with me! Now, I'm going to to warm up with some hot chocolate (and maybe a candy cane to stir it with, because it's almost Christmas!). I can't wait to see you soon, Liona!



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