Letter to the Editor: ‘My Heart Will Be in Ephraim’

I first went to Door County in 1981. I had just been through a painful divorce, and my 11- and 14-year-old daughters, suffering as well, rarely had a kind word for each other. We went to Ephraim in June (ah, the innocence of thinking it would be summer). We stayed in a small rental cottage at Knudsen House; the girls fought; the rain poured down; the north winds blew; and I thought I had never been in a more perfect place in my life. I fell in love completely and forever. 

Knudson House was our destination for the next 13 years until I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase a condo at Ephraim Condominiums. My grandchildren grew up there; my niece honeymooned there; my sister drives from Ohio every summer; friends return year after year. After retirement, I became a true seasonal resident, spending every year from May through October. 

My first thought when the pandemic reached us was, go to Door County. It breaks my heart that my sanctuary is now off limits. Of all the inconvenience, fear and pain of COVID-19, the greatest blow to me is that I must keep my distance from Door County. Intellectually, I understand completely. I know there are limited resources available, and I would never want to contribute to making a dreadful situation worse. In the face of so much suffering, my staying put is hardly a sacrifice.

But, emotionally, it’s another story. How calming it would be during this time of isolation to walk the less-traveled trails of Peninsula or Newport. How comforting to get in my car and just drive around the peninsula on those wonderful backroads. Sheltering in place with a view of Eagle Bay would be infinitely easier than doing the same in a Chicago suburb. 

But I will comply. I love Door County and my beautiful Ephraim far too much to jeopardize them. I will stay home until the “all clear” sounds. My self-quarantined body will stay in Mundelein, but my heart will be in Ephraim. 

Nancy Barkman

Mundelein, Illinois