I was in Duluth last weekend for a presentation at a Toastmasters educational/training event. Two friends came with me, partly because they wanted to hear me speak and partly for moral support and for a bit of a girls’ weekend. It was late on Friday afternoon when we got to Duluth. For several miles, I had been admiring and commenting on the bright, full moon in the crisp, clear sky. As we reached the edge of Lake Superior, the time of day could not have been more perfect. The sky was tinged with hints of blue, pink, and purple. It was dark enough for the harbor lights to be shining brightly and glowing across the water, but still light enough for us to clearly see the lake, the boats and the buildings. I was struck by the serene and stunning beauty of the view.

My first instinct was to whip out my camera – which I always carry in my purse – and take some photos. But since I was the one driving, this didn’t seem like the best idea. So I just captured the view in my memory.

I’ve been to Duluth only a few times before, and was never at exactly this spot at precisely this time. I was about to say as much while commenting on the breathtaking view, but one of my friends beat me to it.

“I’ve been to Duluth plenty of times before,” she said. “But I’ve never been right here at this time of day.”

Our other friend added her comments. This is my friend from Uganda, who was also responsible for my trip there in October. She’s lived in Minneapolis for ten years now, but had never yet been to Duluth.

“I’ve always wanted to come here and see Lake Superior,” she said, adding that she learned about America and the Great Lakes when she was in school in Uganda. Back then, she never dreamed that she would actually see them for real.

“Stick with me, Kiddo,” I joked. “I’ll show you around.” Then I pointed out that it was because of her that I saw Lake Victoria and the Nile River, which is something I never imagined I would do one day. So showing her Lake Superior was the least I could do to return the favor.

Had we turned around just then and driven back to the Cities, it would have been worth the trip.

The whole weekend was magical that way, and I’m still shaking my head in wonder. The two friends who were with me are women who know each other, but not as well as I know each of them. Yet they found common ground on some projects they are working on – and that each of them is passionate about – that is going to make each of them more successful in what they are doing and in what they want to accomplish. Not only that, but by working together, both of them will have a much easier time of it because each of them has gifts, strengths and talents that can benefit the other. I know enough about each of them, and about the work they are doing, to realize that their connecting with each other was a match made in heaven. It made me want to claim that my presentation – the reason we were all in Duluth – was actually just a pretext in order to get the two of them together.

Not that I didn’t benefit from having them there. In addition to the pleasure of their company and the fun of traveling and spending the weekend with two very dear friends, I felt like I had a whole team of experts and advisors with me for the weekend. Between the two of them, I had tech support and training, marketing and medical advice, spiritual guidance, a graphic design team, a personal assistant, a strategic advisor and a sales staff. Not to mention a cheerleading squad.

The presentation went well, the morning flew by, and before we knew it we were on our way back to Minneapolis. And as much as I enjoyed the glow of Lake Superior as we were driving into Duluth on Friday evening, I enjoyed even more what I saw as we were driving home on Saturday afternoon. That’s when I was looking not at the landscape that was all around me, but at what I could see when I looked inside – into the heart and soul of my friends, and at the love, admiration and respect we have for each other.

That was a stunning view, too.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on December 15, 2011.
© Betty Liedtke, 2011